These cycles are critical for the body and the brain. NREM sleep consists of four stages that can last anywhere from five to 10 minutes each. Stage one and two are beginning or light sleep stages in which a person usually can be easily woken up. Stage three and four are deeper sleep stages that are not as easily awoken from. During stage three and four, the body is actually hard at work. During this time, the body releases a growth hormone responsible for repairing tissue, building muscles and bones, strengthening the skin, and boosting the immune system.
As the sleep cycles rotate throughout the night, each period of REM sleep becomes longer, with the first period being as short as 10 or 15 minutes and the last being up to an hour. Understanding this concept is the foundation behind understanding the need for an adequate amount of sleep each night.
If the body goes through such essential physiological repair modes during REM sleep, it is clearly essential that we provide our bodies with that opportunity. The amount of sleep each person requires depends on several factors, but on average, most adults should be getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night. As we age, we spend less time each night in REM sleep, a factor that can possibly be a contribution to the natural aging process.
A lack of sleep has clinically shown to have detrimental effects on virtually every function of the body. Think about the way you look and feel when you have not had a good night’s sleep. There are many chronic diseases that are associated with lack of sleep. An estimated 90 percent of people who suffer from insomnia do not only suffer from such diseases but can also develop life threatening conditions. The most common diseases that can increase when there is a lack of adequate sleep include stroke, heart disease, heart failure, heart attack, high blood pressure and diabetes.
A lack of sleep also has a direct effect on the skin. Clinical studies have shown that, following a few nights of missed or inadequate sleep, one will visibly notice puffy eyes and sallow skin. If this goes on for a length of time, you will begin to notice lackluster skin, dark circles beneath the eyes, and fine lines around the eyes and even the mouth.
Inadequate amounts of sleep on a regular basis can possibly increase the production of cortisol, a stress hormone that many people produce enough of on a daily basis. Unfortunately, this increase in cortisol production has a direct impact on the critical strength producing protein of the skin – collagen. Every person can identify at least three negative effects that they have personally experienced after not getting enough sleep, such as the ability to think, focus, and be attentive and rational. What about the ability to handle difficult clients, situations or emotions when you are overly tired? How good are you at being creative, thinking outside the box or being motivated on four hours of sleep? Can you drive well, exercise or de-stress when you are exhausted? And next is the most important question of all... how good are you to yourself when you simply need another hour of sleep? To think that all of this can be turned around with an extra little shut eye seems like a no-brainer to me!
The fact goes without saying; lack of sleep affects every part of you, your day and your life. We so easily get caught up in the responsibility and chaos of each day. Things that we have created for ourselves, that are not nearly as critical as we think, have come to consume our efforts and hours. At the end of the day, what really matters most to you? I know personally it is the see you tomorrow waves from a school full of educated students; the laughter in my kids’ voices; and the goodnight kiss from my husband.
Be sure to get adequate sleep and allow your body heal and re-energize for tomorrow. Do it to be healthy, to be happy, to be successful, and to be youthful, do it for one reason... do it for you!
Michelle D’Allaird is a New York State licensed aesthetician and International CIDESCO Diplomat. She is the owner of the Aesthetic Science Institute aesthetic schools in Syracuse and Latham, N.Y. She is a consultant and educator for international cosmetic companies around the world. D’Allaird is a contributing author to major industry trade magazines, as well as a host and speaker for International Congress of Esthetics & Spa conferences in Miami, Philadelphia, Dallas and Long Beach. She is also a co-author of Salon Fundamentals aesthetic textbook. Her expertise lies in education and curriculum development for aesthetic, medical and laser courses.