THE BLOG
11/20/2014 03:50 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Best Anti-Aging Treatment in the World

It can quickly reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, eliminate dark circles under your eyes, rejuvenate and improve your skin's color, texture and tone, protect against premature skin aging and can increase your skin's ability to recover after exposure to the harmful effects of the sun. It doesn't come in expensive packaging or at an exorbitant price. Instead, it is freely available to all who wish to avail of its rich bounty.

What is this anti-aging treatment?

It's called sleep.

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It's been shown that getting a good night's sleep doesn't just make you feel good on the inside, it also makes you look good on the outside. Research on the effects of sleep deprivation found that compared to those who'd had a good night's sleep, sleep-deprived individuals appeared less healthy, more tired, and less attractive than those who'd had a full night's sleep. The faces of the sleep deprived were viewed "as having more hanging eyelids, darker circles under the eyes, paler skin, more wrinkles and fine lines, more droopy corners of the mouth, redder and more swollen eyes." In addition, those suffering from sleep deprivation looked sadder than after normal sleep, and sadness was related to looking fatigued. "Sleep is the body's natural beauty treatment," Axelsson, the lead researcher said. "It's probably more effective than any other treatment you could buy."

A study conducted on the relationship between sleep and skin aging found that poor sleepers showed signs of premature skin aging and a decrease in their skin's ability to recover after sun exposure.

How much sleep do you need?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 7-8 hours a night for adults:

"In the past century, we have reduced our average time in sleep. Though our society has changed, our brains and bodies have not. Sleep deprivation is affecting us all, and we are paying the price. (The U.S. National Sleep Foundation).

And the price we pay is not only that of looking old before our time, but also of increased risk of chronic medical conditions:

"What many people do not realize is that a lack of sleep, especially on a regular basis is associated with long-term health consequences, including chronic medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, and that these conditions may lead to a shortened life expectancy." (Harvard Medical School).

Research reported by Harvard Medical School has also identified a relationship between inadequate sleep and weight gain. Studies have shown that individuals who regularly get less than six hours sleep are much more likely to have a higher than average body mass index (BMI) while people who sleep eight hours have the lowest BMI.

Why are we getting so little sleep?

For a lot of people, the demands of a busy schedule means that "something" has to give, and that "something" is often sleep. As one woman remarked, "By the time I get the kids to bed, the kitchen cleaned up and the lunches ready for tomorrow, its midnight and I'm up at 6."

Some people get so used to feeling below par from lack of sleep that they believe that the way they feel is "normal." Take Joe for example. He reported that he hadn't had a good night's sleep since the birth of his twin sons seven years earlier. It was only when he got his sleep pattern back on track that he realized what he had been missing.

Many believe that starting early and finishing late is what real men and women do. Sleep is for wimps. Getting by on four or five hours is seen as a measure of strength -- a badge of honor -- something to be remarked upon and admired by others.

There appears to be a commonly held belief that we don't need any more than five or six hours sleep a night. Because it's possible to get by on five or six hours, we assume that we don't need more. We might like more, but getting more, is not a necessity, instead it's seen as a luxury that many people can't afford. A new "norm" has been set for sleep that takes no account of the essential role that sleep plays in keeping our minds and our bodies fit and healthy. While exercise and a nutritious diet have become synonymous with healthy living, sleep has not been given the same priority.

The unfortunate thing is that once a "norm" has been set, there is an expectation that individuals will adhere to that norm. This is evidenced by the changes in work practices in recent years. More and more people are now expected to work longer and longer hours and to be available to respond to calls and emails late into the evenings and at week-ends.

And finally, a piece of research that should make even the most sleep-sceptic individual sit up and take notice. This research shows that sleep plays an essential role in the removal of neurotoxic waste products that accumulate in the brain during wakefulness. While we sleep cerebrospinal fluid "washes" through the brain, flushing out waste toxins. Sleep is essential in order for this process to occur. One of the waste toxins removed while we sleep is called amyloid-beta, a protein fragment that forms plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.

What does all of this research tell us?

It tells us that we really do need to prioritise our sleep -- we need to ensure that we are getting the recommended daily amount 7 - 8 hours.

For tips and resources on how to get a good night's sleep, you might like to check out my website.