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Eyes Wide Shut: A Guide to Better Sleep

Irving Penn for Vogue, 1991

Irving Penn for Vogue, 1991

Though often overlooked in our caffeinated existence, the importance of adequate sleep goes beyond its power to banish under-eye circles. A good night’s rest is as vital to our health as proper nutrition, hydration, and air. Sleep allows our bodies to repair themselves and our brains to process information. In fact, your mind is surprisingly busy while you’re dozing off; during sleep, you consolidate your memories and skills you have learned while you were awake.

On the flip side, sleeplessness poses a real risk to our health and well-being. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, people suffering from sleep debt (which means less than seven hours of sleep a night for adults) face a higher risk of suffering from obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and weakened immune function. According to Dr. Jim Horne, author of “Sleeplessness: Assessing Sleep Need in Society Today,” one of the most important factors to improve one’s sleep is peace of mind at bedtime. The reason why many people have insomnia in our frantically paced modern life is that our minds are constantly racing. The issues, problems, tasks and to-do lists in our waking life tend to creep in and intrude our sleep. And life in the smart phone is age is not helping. Quick glimpses of incessant notifications trigger agitated, nervous systems to release floods of hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline, causing blood pressure to spike and muscles to tighten.

8 Habits for Better Sleep

We’ve composed eight ways to help you develop a relaxing routine. Remember, by repeating a regular pattern, you condition your body and mind to realize that it’s time to go to sleep. Many activities people do in the evening can be overstimulating. So a bedtime ritual can help you to unwind before hitting the pillow. Snooze away, dear friends.

Create Your Own Sanctuary. For many people, interrupted sleep is caused by external factors such as light, discomfort, noise and uncomfortable room temperature. Treat yourself to a tasteful silk sleeping mask, spray a touch of lavender on your pillow, consider blackout blinds, adjust the room temperature (the last thing you want is to wake up either hot and bothered or chilly and shivering) and have earplugs handy. And, if your mattress isn’t up to standard, let that be your next big investment.

Move Your Body. Studies show that exercise such as brisk walking, light biking and yoga can function much like an antidepressant, decrease anxiety, clear the mind, and help bring on a restorative night of sleep. Also, working larger muscle groups such as your legs in your daily workouts helps physically exhaust your body, making it easier to fall asleep.

Take a Bath. Besides being a relaxing activity in itself, a warm bath helps the body to reach a temperature ideal for rest. Amp up the sleeping potential by adding Epsom salts to your bath.  Stress drains the body of magnesium, which helps to promote rest while improving the quality of sleep and concentration; and Epsom salts are rich in this essential mineral. When the salts are dissolved in warm water, the magnesium is absorbed through the skin and can replenish its supplies; the salts also help relieve your body of toxins.

Sip on Chamomile Tea. Not only can drinking a warm drink before bedtime makes you feel drowsier, but the naturally calming caffeine-free tea has also been proved to have a calming effect on the body.

Breathe. If you find it difficult to switch into sleep mode, try meditation or breathing exercises to get you in the mood. Take several long, deep breaths and focus on what you are grateful for today. By simply concentrating your attention on the positive attributes of your life can bring your whole mind and body into balance and eliminate any sense of anxiety. Headspace offers 10-minute-long meditation sessions which you can interact with on your smartphone, providing instant relaxation.

Eat for Sleep. Tart cherries are one of the few natural foods to contain melatonin, the chemical that helps control our body’s internal clock; we suggest eating some with breakfast and at night. Almonds are a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that’s necessary for good sleep. Black rice, sesame, and pumpkin seeds are also good sources. Meanwhile, bananas can promote sleep because they contain the natural muscle-relaxants magnesium and potassium, 

Get Some Sunshine. Starting your day with natural light exposure helps reset your biological clock. It also balances your body’s melatonin and cortisol level. 

Maintain a Regular Sleeping Schedule. Keep your circadian rhythms in check by adhering to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible. Yes, even on weekends.

  Written by Sofia Sosunov

Rolling Stones: The Ancient Beauty Tool that Will Instantly Brighten Your Face

Jade Roller image via thehoneycombers.com

(Jade Roller image via thehoneycombers.com)

When it comes to skincare rituals, it’s not just what you put on your skin that counts, but how you apply it. In a world of new and cutting-edge electric beauty gadgets and trends, an age-old Chinese skin-care tool seems to be making all the buzz.

Meet the jade face roller, a time-honored face massager that can be traced as far back as seventh-century China, where the lime green stone constituted an integral part of the Chinese beauty regimes. Also known for its healing and protective properties, jade is closely associated with balancing the chi (or qi), your body’s energetic life force. According to Chinese medicine, any number of physical and mental symptoms from anxiety to fatigue to actual pain can indicate a negative chi, which the stone is believed to have the power to ward off.

But even if that kind of spirituality isn't normally what you’re looking to implement in your skincare routine, you can still experience the more physical, youth boosting benefits of daily jade rolling as a form of a facial massage. Our facial muscles store a lot of tension, which can cause wrinkles and fine lines, especially around our forehead and eyes. Using the jade roller helps to iron out these kinks; in this way, the practice acts as both an immediate skin boost and a means of preventing the appearance of wrinkles.

Like most of the beauty rituals that stand the test of time, the enduring appeal of the ancient roller lies in its utter simplicity. In fact, the mechanism is downright basic, much like a paint roller: It features an oval stone of pure jade, usually an inch to an inch and a half long, that's attached to a handle with a metal frame.

But don't underestimate the tool’s minimalist appearance. Once you master the art of rolling, it can become a real game changer. By moving the smooth stone across your facial muscles, you increase blood circulation, assist lymphatic drainage (which aids drain the body of toxins), reduce puffiness and diminish the appearance of fine lines. Moreover, the rolling motion helps the products you apply to penetrate more deeply into your skin, thus increasing their effectiveness. 

How to Use:

The process is gloriously straightforward. After applying your favorite serum or moisturizer, roll the jade roller in an upward motion, working from your neck toward the forehead. Et Voilà, that’s all, folks. 

Jade rollers can be used as often as daily or weekly, but we recommend using it in the morning to wake up your complexion, which is particularly refreshing in these hot summer months.

Insider Tip: Put the roller in the fridge 15 minutes before you use it for an added cooling effect.

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Written by Sofia Sosunov

 

 

 

Eat Your Way to Glowing Skin

Bae Yoon Young for Beauty+, April 2015

Bae Yoon Young for Beauty+, April 2015

While we are all about slathering our face and body with nurturing oils, beautiful skin starts with nourishment from within. In fact, what we eat has a direct effect on our skin, and a healthy diet abundant in antioxidants, vitamin C, good fats, collagen, and amino acids can mean the difference between a fresh, radiant complexion and a weary, puffy, one. Older skin cells are continuously shed and replaced by younger ones, and a steady supply of micronutrients is essential to support this rapid growth. When you eat the correct balance of foods, you feed your skin the vital nutrients it needs to stay, soft, supple and blemish-free.

To make things easier, we’ve compiled a list of eight beauty superfoods that will significantly enhance your complexion. Keep reading to see what they are.

BEETS

The powerful antioxidants in beets help fight signs of aging to keep skin firm and youthful. Their combination of minerals and vitamins (folate, Vitamin A, potassium, and magnesium) stimulates cell production and repair, protecting our skin from premature aging and wrinkles. Add the vibrant root vegetable to your morning juice along with apple, carrots and a hint of ginger for a delicious cleansing boost.

CHIA SEEDS

These antioxidant-rich seeds are packed with minerals and fiber as well as the perfect balance of essential fatty acids (packing almost 5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per 1-ounce serving). Consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids is credited for giving our skin that "glow" we all strive for while also leading to a visible reduction in inflammatory skin conditions like acne and psoriasis. Sprinkle chia seeds into smoothies and fruit salads, or soak them in almond milk overnight for a satisfying dessert.

BRAZIL NUTS

While you probably already know that Brazil nuts are a healthful snack, they are also a beauty food, as they’re a rich source of selenium, a powerful antioxidant which is essential for the immune system. A selenium-rich diet can help to protect against skin cancer, sun damage and age spots. Just four nuts will provide you with the recommended daily amount. Sprinkle them on your salad alongside other seeds, or carry as nutritious snack.

SWEET POTATOES

Adding these delicious beta-carotene-rich starches into your daily diet can combat lackluster complexions. The wondrous, skin-brightening combination of Vitamin A and Vitamin C in sweet potatoes works to neutralize cell tissue-damaging free radicals that cause the dreaded dulling effect. Sweet potatoes are also rich in biotin, which stimulates hair and nail growth.

SPINACH

This leafy green is high in Vitamin A, essential for promoting growth in skin and hair. Spinach is also loaded with Vitamin C, which is imperative for the building and maintenance of collagen, making it a no-brainer for any meal, juice, or smoothie.

PINEAPPLE

Tangy and exotic, pineapple benefits the skin by improving digestion, reducing inflammation, and removing toxins from the body. What’s more, it also helps in the production of collagen.

 

Antioxidant fantasy

Anti-oxidant fig fantasy

FIGS

The tiny seeds in figs are loaded with nutrients that help rid the digestive track of toxins and mucus, which may prevent important nutrients from getting to the skin. High in fiber, figs are a perfect sweet treat to aid in cleansing and detox. 

 

AVOCADO

Besides being a delight smashed on a crispy toast, avocados are an abundant source of vitamin E. Praised as a skin-beautifying antioxidant, Vitamin E is present in the human epidermal tissue, where it creates smoothness and suppleness. Studies also found that vitamin E  helps fight signs of aging by protecting the skin against oxidative cell damage as well as supporting healthy skin growth.

And lastly, it goes without saying water is imperative for a dewy, healthy complexion. Our skin needs moisture to stay flexible, and even mild dehydration will cause it to look dry, tired and slightly gray. After all, H20 isn't a beauty secret — it's a basic human need. So make sure to keep hydrated at all times (especially during these hot summer months). If you work in an office, keep a large bottle of water on your desk to remind yourself to drink regularly.

 – Written by Sofia Sosunov