Is there any truth to the phrase “beauty sleep”? It turns out, there is. As important as sleep is for your physical and mental health, it may be just as important for your hair health. Not getting good sleep puts the body under stress, and stress is a major culprit when it comes to poor hair health.
But what is “good” sleep? For most adults, that’s 7-9 hours of sleep a day, falling and staying asleep within 20 minutes of lying down, and waking up feeling refreshed (meaning you got a few cycles of deeper REM sleep in). If you’re ready to improve the quality of your sleep — and, by association, your hair — here are nine ways to make sure you’re getting the best Zs you can.
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1. Set your sleeping and waking times.
Try to go to sleep and get up at the same times every day to get your body to anticipate a regular sleep schedule. This is especially important if you have a hard time falling asleep or waking up. You’ll be surprised by how well consistency works!
2. Avoid sleep-disturbing substances too close to bedtime.
That includes nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine, all of which can mess with your body’s sleep patterns. Need an afternoon coffee? Experts recommend cutting yourself off by 2 pm, because a cup even six hours before bedtime can disturb your slumber that night.
3. Exercise regularly.
Even 10 minutes of exercise a day can improve how well you sleep, as it causes the body to rise and then drop in temperature in such a way that lulls you off to sweet, sweet sleep. Not only that, but exercise can, at the very least, tire you out, which usually results in some quality shut-eye.
4. Set your room to optimal sleep temperature.
The body sleeps best at cooler temperatures — usually 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit is cool enough to encourage the body’s natural drop in temperature when sleep is near. A room that’s too warm causes restlessness and can compromise sleep.
5. Limit screen time before bed.
The blue light from TV, phone, and computer screens mimics daylight and interferes with the body’s natural melatonin production, making it harder to wind down for bed. Opt instead for reading a book, journaling, listening to a podcast, or another less-stimulating activity before bedtime.
6. Turn your bedroom into a sanctuary.
If limiting screen time before bed still isn’t enough, take your screens outside of the bedroom. For some people, restricting bedroom activities to only sleep or sex is necessary to create a literal division of sleep and not-sleep. Make sure your room is also cozy and calming. A light, relaxing scent like lavender can ease a tense body, and surrounding yourself with plush pillows and blankets will get you ready to tuck yourself in.
7. Hang blackout curtains.
In the same vein as curbing access to screens before bed, limiting exposure to actual sunlight can help keep you asleep, especially if you’re prone to waking up at odd hours in the middle of the day or night. A set of blackout curtains will keep your room dark once the sun comes up.
8. Switch to silk pillowcases.
If your hair is prone to breakage, sleeping on a cotton pillowcase might be making it worse. Try switching to silk pillowcases (or an entire silk sheet set if you want to get really luxurious) to reduce friction if you toss and turn.