Insomnia can impact anyone, at any age. As well as being exhausting, it often has a negative effect on the appearance.
Tired-looking skin and even dark circles can be the result of a lack of sleep. So it is important to identify a problem quickly and find the right remedy for you.
Overcoming sleep deprivation can be hard. You may need to change your routine or, for a prolonged, incessant problem, seek medical help.
Some insomniacs don’t realise they have a problem, because few sufferers are actually awake all night.
How To Tell If You Are An Insomniac
To determine if you are suffering from serious sleep disturbance, have a look at these common symptoms:
- Struggle to drift off at night
- Do not have a full night’s sleep because you keep waking up
- Wake up in the early hours and find it impossible to fall back to sleep
- Feel tired when you wake up
- Unable to nap to ‘catch up’
- Irritability and difficulty concentrating
- Regularly fail to achieve the recommended seven to nine hours’ sleep a night
Insomnia can often present in more than one way, and you may have several of the symptoms listed above. The NHS has a helpful tool which can help you determine if you have a problem or not.
Causes Of Sleep Deprivation
The menopause is a common time for sleep problems to develop. I found I’d wake up at 4am and then be up for the rest of the day (especially in the summer months), feeling lethargic, with no energy throughout. Depression and stress, caffeine and alcohol, and plain noise can all be factors. Even an uncomfortable bed.
Prescribed medication can also disrupt sleep. Betablockers, corticosteroids and some antidepressants have been linked to insomnia.
Shift workers are especially susceptible. And cancer treatments often disrupt sleep. Steroids given to help prevent reactions during chemotherapy can be pretty hellish (I know!). Though I am not on them now, my sleep disruption has continued during targeted cancer therapy with Herceptin and Perjeta.
This scientific study makes for interesting reading.
Why Does Lack Of Sleep Impact The Face?
To put it simply, lack of sleep ages the skin. It accelerates the ageing process, because the body has not had enough rest for cells to renew. As well as causing dark circles, bags can develop under the eyes. The eyes can also become bloodshot.
But they are not the only problems. Poor sleep patterns can lead to thinning hair (not much of a problem for me at the moment because I haven’t got any!). It is further linked to wrinkles, weight gain and sagging skin.
If that sounds bad, another side-effect is spots!
Although over-the-counter remedies are available, experts warn against using them. Instead, they recommend a completely natural approach.
How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep
You should aim to have a regular sleep pattern, going to bed and waking up at similar times each day. If you don’t feel tired, wait until you are before getting your head down.
It may be hard, especially if you are feeling anxious or stressed, but try to relax. The NHS recommends reading or taking a bath. Simple things like investing in a comfy bed and pillows, good curtains and limiting noise to the best of your ability can all help.
For some people, a weighted blanket can make a huge difference. Others use ‘white noise’ (available for free on common apps like Alexa) and avoid caffeine drinks for many hours before going to bed.
While exercise is highly recommended to encourage sleep, it actually ‘wakes you up’ – so it should also be avoided too close to bedtime. Large meals and being glued to any kind of screen in the immediate run-up are further no-nos, not to mention napping during the day.
Incorporating a simple three-step skin care regime into your bedtime routine can also help you to unwind.
If you still find it impossible to relax, you should seek advice from your GP. Surgeries are still operating despite the Covid-19 pandemic, though you may have to complete an e-consult form before being offered a one-to-one appointment.
Sleep problems can be tackled, but they can take time and patience to completely resolve. If you have a tip for me, please leave a comment below.
There is information about a soothing sleep set in this feature: Cath Kidston Gifts Designed To Delight, Soothe and Calm – Regime Skin Care
Sources: NHS, American Journal of Physiology.