A good night's sleep can make you look radiant and youthful. And doesn't the world look better, too? A look in the mirror shows that your face does not have as many lines as it would without enough rest. There is decreased puffiness around the eyes, and you have a radiance that only comes with good health. Getting enough sleep is critical to the anti-aging regimen because while you sleep, your cells undergo a process of repair. When we look at hormone parameters from sleep, we find that sleep turns down the negative effects of cortisol and the bad neurotransmitters, like epinephrine and norepinephrine, that can be elevated during stress. Growth hormone is released during sleep—and growth hormone is the youth hormone.
A good night's sleep will enhance your cognitive ability. The day after a good night's sleep, you can think, problem-solve and remember far better than after those sleepless nights. During sleep, your body releases a hormone called melatonin, which has positive effects on your skin and your immune system.
Since sleep is so important to the anti-aging regimen, it is essential that you do what will enhance sleep and avoid what will interfere with sleep. Drinking alcoholic beverages in the evening may initially make you drowsy, but scientists know that after the initial effect of drowsiness, alcohol precipitates a burst of norepinephrine in your system. Norepinephrine is one of the hormones that go up with excitement or stress, and is the reason that many of us wake up at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning after alcohol ingestion. There is a burst of norepinephrine production causing you to come back to consciousness. It is also important that you avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and evening, because it may interfere with your sleep patterns. You should avoid any food that raises your blood sugar rapidly before you go to bed, because it will interfere with growth hormone production, robbing you of this essential anti-aging hormone.
Dr. Perricone recommends that the time before sleep be reserved for meditation. The bedroom should not be the place for important and emotional discussions with your significant other. This room should be reserved for rest and tranquility. You should take this time to empty your mind of all the details of your day—good and bad—or to pray if that is your belief.
While Dr. Perricone does not recommend pharmacological agents to induce sleep, he suggests a half to one milligram of melatonin 30 minutes before bed can sometimes be helpful in bringing on sleep. Your daily exercise program will help. You will sleep better and more soundly with physical exercise on a daily basis than you would being sedentary.