SPONSORED FEATUREWe spend roughly a third of our lives sleeping, so it's vital that we utilise this 'down time' in the best possible way. The process of sleep not only helps our minds to 're-set' and our bodies to refresh from the day, but our skin to focus on repairing the damage the daily stresses of life have often caused. However, for many of us sleep has become elusive because of the inevitable negative effects of technology; I for one often find myself on social media or answering one last email as I slip between the sheets. Being connected all of the time is counterproductive to creating the stillness and quiet that sets us up for optimal sleep. Sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan says: "What you do in the 60-90 minutes before you get into bed determines whether you're going to be able to access the deep, nourishing sleep that is absolutely vital for your wellbeing. Overloading the brain with information in the hour or so before bedtime leads to the frazzled, mentally overactive sleep that does very little to heal the mind and body and can actually leave you feeling more exhausted." In the search for the best beauty sleep ever, I've teamed up with Olay Regenerist to put some top tips into practice to see if they could make a difference to me. Could they make a difference to you too?
According to Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, the best thing you can do in the evenings is consciously undertake tasks that help you to relax. She recommends these top five tips for ensuring your body and mind are in the best place for optimum sleep:
TIP 1. Have a relaxing bath in the early part of the evening, although avoid doing this too close to bedtime if you tend to get very warm at night. For an even more relaxing experience, add a big mug of bicarbonate of soda or Epsom salts. The magnesium and salts help to detoxify and relax the muscles, which is particularly good if you suffer from restlessness at night. Soak deeply in the water for at least 15 minutes before drying your skin and moisturising. Be prepared to experience very deep sleep after a salt bath!
TIP 2. Switch off and withdraw from technology around 60-90 minutes before you go to sleep. Keep all technology out of the bedroom and never watch TV in bed. If you’re a fan of electronic readers, try to go back to an old fashioned book! Avoid watching the news or reading anything that makes you feel anxious, sad or afraid too. As we go into the initial stages of sleep we return to a childlike state of vulnerability in which we need to feel safe and secure; any niggles or worries are likely to become amplified and exaggerated at this time so fill your mind and heart with positivity.
TIP 3. Close your eyes, breathe deeply into your belly and mentally go backwards through your day - thinking of all of the small positive things that have happened. Give thanks for each thing, no matter how small. It might be receiving a nice text message from someone, getting a seat on a packed train, or a compliment from a colleague. Feeling the gratitude in your heart rather than merely thinking about it is even more powerful.
TIP 4. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and your mind is racing with thoughts of what needs to be done the next day, get out of bed, go to another room and write a list of everything that needs to be done. Do it on paper rather than on your device so that you can see clearly what needs to be completed, rather than holding it in your head or stimulating your brain with more electronics!
TIP 5. Just before you get into bed or turn off your light, hug someone that you love (if you can!) Breathe deeply and feel gratitude for having the person in your life. The combination of hugging, breathing deeply and gratitude triggers the production of the hormone oxytocin - which acts as a powerful anti-depressant, healing agent, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging agent. It also helps you to let go, relax and sleep. Even imagining doing this can produce these wonderful effects.
Although it's not realistic to complete these tasks on a daily basis, making a concerted effort whenever you can will definitely aid your sleeping patterns. For me, switching off murder documentaries and reading a mildly stimulating book has been a key part of achieving better quality sleep; I've also made a concerted effort to put down the phone at 10pm, giving my mind some time to relax and stop buzzing with information. I never thought about the power of a good hug either, but it's such a simple way to ensure you feel good before you drift off; my boyfriend and I definitely have a less disturbed night if we simply lie together and chat before bed - rather than watching another episode of Criminal Minds! In addition, facial massage is a great way to relax the senses and help get you in the mood for sleep; it's a simple way of not only ensuring the efficacy of your night cream, but helps to stimulate blood flow while releasing tension that may have built up during the day.
Celebrity facialist Anastasia Achilleos says: "Having spent 20 years massaging my own face as well as countless clients, I am always inspired to create simple and transformative ways of applying skincare." She's created a ‘Lights Out’ three-step night-time massage for the eyes, jawline and neck using Olay's Regenerist 3 Point Age-Defying Night Cream - which works at a cell level to regenerate and re-energise skin. "Teamed with massage, breathing and relaxation techniques before bed, it helps my sleep quality as well as helping re-energise skin during that precious time," she continues. Here is the simple three stage approach that anyone can do with a spare few minutes before bed...
STEP ONE: WARM UP
Lie flat (a natural way to massage skin.) Starting with both hands on your chest, just below the collar bone, take three deep breaths and exhale slowly. Put a pea-sized amount of the Olay Regenerist 3 Point Age-Defying Night Cream into the palm of your hands and slowly rub together in circular motions for a count of ten. Lay your hands over your face (fingertips should cover the forehead, palms across the face,) take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Slide your palms up and over the forehead, out to the temples and following the hairline down to the chin. Repeat for 30 seconds.
STEP TWO: ACTIVATE
Place your fingertips to your forehead again - this time, rest your palms on the cheekbone and press inward toward the cheekbone with your palm. Apply a little pressure and push the base of your palms (and cheekbones) up slightly – hold for 10 seconds before releasing.
STEP THREE: RELIEVE TENSION
Pinch your eyebrows with your thumb beneath the brow and index finger above. Hold this position for 10 seconds whilst taking deep breaths. Continue to gently pinch your brow bone and release, slowly moving out towards temples; using both thumbs, finish with three small clockwise circles at each temple. Place arms by your sides and take deep breaths; exhale slowly, feeling yourself switch off and getting in the mood for sleep.
I love this technique, as well as the Olay Regenerist Age Defying Night Cream. The key to its success is a unique Amino-Peptide Complex consisting of the pentapeptide combined with Vitamin B3, ProVitamin B5, Vitamin E, Green Tea Extract and Allantoin. This powerhouse of ingredients helps to increase skin firmness and elasticity, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, strengthen the skin’s barrier, improve skin tone and provide intense skin moisturisation. Hyaluronic acid also acts as a moisture net, drawing in and helping to lock in hydration for up to 24 hours. The cream itself is rich and luxurious, without being heavy or greasy. It's an absolute pleasure to use and massages easily into skin, aiding the technique Anastasia has created. Although I don't remember to massage the product in so intenseley every evening, when I do my skin feels even better and I definitely find myself slipping into the land of nod a lot quicker.
So will I be continuing the good work I've established over the last few weeks? As much as possible! Although my busy and ever-connected lifestyle often prevents me from taking as much time as I would like to get my mind ready for sleep, I'm definitely going to promise myself that I'll integrate these techniques three nights a week. I don't need to check my emails at 11pm, nor do I need to watch another episode of some crime drama that's not exactly enriching my life. I do need to switch off, relax, breathe deeply and get the most of my skincare products so I look refreshed and feel ready to face the day ahead.
Will you be putting some of these techniques to the test yourself?
The Olay Regenerist 3 Point Age-Defying Night Cream is available now, priced £29.99. Read my original review of the product here.
This is a sponsored post on behalf of Olay. All opinions are my own.