Lack of sleep has been shown to raise levels of cortisol and glucose, causing health problems such as hypertension and type II diabetes, both of which make you age much more quickly.
Although we used to think that lying in bed made us lazy, seven to eight hours' sleep a night is vital for good health and to keep our weight steady.
Research has shown that compared with people who sleep eight hours a night, those getting five hours have 15 per cent lower levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin and 15 per cent higher levels of hunger-increasing ghrelin. But sleep deprivation does more than wreak havoc on your body, as its effects are written all over your face too.
Daily Express Beauty expert Lesley Reynolds says: "Skin cells turn over more quickly when you sleep. If you don't get enough sleep your skin won't renew itself and will start looking dull, especially as you age when cell turnover slows down."
Also, skin temperature rises when you sleep, allowing topical treatments to penetrate the skin more effectively than is possible during the day. Then there's the common sign of a lack of sleep: dark circles.
While puffiness is determined by genetics, shadows are often aggravated by lack of sleep, which can cause some blood to seep from the tiny capillaries beneath the thin skin under your eyes.
Night time can be the first chance your mind has to process your life and the day. At this time, thoughts race through the brain and can keep you awake.
Try Lesley Reynold's relaxation tips:
- Keep a regular bedtime ritual, including getting to bed at the same time (preferably between 10pm and 11.30pm), using orange lighting one hour before turning in to help you relax.
- Switch off all computers, phones and bright lights at same time.
- Lower the temperature in the house. Keep the thermostat not higher than 68.
- Gentle yoga and breathing exercises before bed are great. But light reading or a little television won't hurt.
- If you just can't seem to calm your mind, try calming your breath.
- Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge behind your upper front teeth. Breathe in through your nose to the count of four. Hold your breath to the count of seven.
- Then, to the count of eight, breathe out through your mouth. Repeat three times.
- The darker the bedroom, the better for maintaining crucial melatonin levels. Blinds can help.
- Turn the alarm clock face away from you. The first thing you do when you can't sleep is look at the clock!
- Throw most pillows off the bed. Being more or less horizontal is conducive to many of the physical changes associated with drifting into a deep sleep.
- Skip caffeine and alcohol. Instead try a cup of chamomile tea.
- Quit smoking, as it puts a stimulant into the bloodstream.