Bedside Remedies

Beauty sleep.

NUVO Magazine: Beauty Sleep

We all know that sleep is important, even if we don’t always make time for it. Sleep, or lack thereof, impacts us in myriad ways, from our productivity at work to the glow of our skin. And for something we spend a good chunk of lives doing, it’s worthwhile to ensure that we’re getting quality rest. We’ve all woken up on the wrong side of the bed and seen the results: puffy eyes, dark circles, and a dull complexion. And these are only the immediate consequences; long term, a lack of sleep can take a permanent toll and lead to prominent wrinkles. This is partly because skin cells regenerate faster at night than during the day. Without giving the skin a chance to replace the dead cells with new, fresh ones, the aging process is accelerated.

The solution: skin-surface beauty products that work double duty as sleep inducers to repair skin, body, and soul. “With over six billion people on our planet, about two billion of us are sleeping at any given time,” says Dr. Rubin Naiman, a clinical psychologist and sleep authority who co-developed the Origins Night Health skin-care line. In partnership with integrative health expert Dr. Andrew Weil, the pair spent two years consulting on the therapeutic formulas before creating a complete collection of combination relaxation-beauty products. An all-natural arsenal of lavender, mandarin, and chamomile feature prominently in the oil, cream, balm, and spray, which are also bolstered with ingredients like buckbean and St. Paul’s wort extracts to target and moisturize stressed skin.

“A common notion is that we can ‘swallow’ sleep, either with a glass of warm milk or a sleeping pill,” says Dr. Naiman. “But a big part of my work is about letting go of [having to take] something to sleep.” He advocates an integrative approach, starting with a bedtime ritual and followed by a gradual descent into the dream world. In fact, both falling asleep and waking should happen slowly. “These days, we model ourselves after machines,” says Dr. Naiman. “We expect to launch like a rocket ship out of rest and out of our dreams.” But that’s just not natural.

Most of us have damaging sleep patterns: we go to bed at inconsistent hours, we wake up with a jolt to a cup of caffeine to start the day, and a significant percentage of North Americans even fall asleep without changing for bed. The natural rhythm of our bodies yearns for a routine and a clear delineation between our day time and resting time. A regular bedtime, a warm bath or massage, and a few products formulated to prepare the body for a pleasant slumber can work wonders. And truth be told, the secret of these products lies in the scent.

Dr. Jane Roskams, a neuroscientist and an associate professor in the departments of zoology and psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, is an authority on scent. She points out the staggering (and largely unknown) fact that the biggest gene family in all of biology is the olfactory receptors. That helps explain the incredible power that scent has to stimulate our emotions and long-term memories. “Unlike with other senses, olfactory stimulation doesn’t have to travel to the thalamus to be interpreted but heads on a fast track directly to the limbic system, the area in our brain that governs our state of awareness and emotions,” Dr. Roskams explains. Even an apparently simple scent actually contains a complex combination of chemicals, each with the unique ability to stimulate emotions and feelings like hunger, desire, or relaxation.

As individual as a fingerprint, each person’s brain responds differently to the same scent. Throughout clinical trials, certain scent combinations and essences reign supreme when it comes to inducing sleep. “Lavender is the most-researched, well-tolerated and soporific scent,” explains Dr. Naiman. “We don’t want to knock people out but to tune into the sleep that they have within.”

To better tune into your rest, turn to a spa for a doze-inducing massage session. Vida Spa’s Nidra Sleep Treatment includes a blissful one-hour aromatherapy massage and a take-home sleep prescription (pill-free, it includes dietary and lifestyle recommendations). Just remember to book sleep treatments for the evening—you’ll want to crawl right into bed the moment you roll off the massage table.

At home, knead pressure points with a proven relaxing oil like Molton Brown’s Cedrus Temple Soother, or a full-body rub with their Soothing Body Oil. Next time you have trouble winding down after a long day, try working a sleep product and a temple massage into your routine. Then rest easy, sleep tight, and have pleasant dreams.