I basically called my mom for help. Except when I say mom, I mean an esthetician.
While caring round-the-clock for a newborn (and she is a jerk), I went two weeks without sleeping more than three hours a night. I started daydreaming about dark, dreamless sleep, a Valley of the Dolls sleep. (Remember the campy classic's drug-induced "Sleep Cure?")
The National Sleep Foundation recently revealed not only how much sleep is ideal for different age brackets, but how few of us are actually getting that sleep. Adults should be getting in the neighborhood of seven and nine hours a night, and could even sleep around 10 hours a night without feeling like a lazy sack.
As much as I would have liked to go the route of a doctor-prescribed coma, I got my beauty rest the old-fashioned way: an early bedtime. Maybe it took me three nights to watch the 40th Anniversary of Saturday Night Live, but it was oh-so worth it.
We've all gone without sleep before, but when you make a habit out of it, it can be hard to get back to a ‘normal’ pattern. Running a constant sleep debt can cause your body to go into "sleep shock": a condition that can cause lower sex drive, delayed immune response, inhibit motor skills and mental function, not to mention put you at higher risk for all sorts of serious health problems.
Lack of sleep can also cause you to gain weight and age your skin. When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones that inhibit your impulse control and make you crave simple carbohydrates, which seems especially unfair. Aside from making you mow down a bunch of sugar and what that can do to your skin, stress causes your body to pump out cortisol, which can cause inflammation and the degradation of collagen, making you look like a zombie. And after prolonged sleeplessness, the effects are essentially permanent. Yikes!
I wanted to use two measurements: mental acuity, and skin health. To measure the mental haze, I took Luminosity’s matching quiz, weighted for attention span and mental clarity.
I also took some no-makeup selfies to see if there’d be a visual difference in my skin as well.
Sit down, as the results may shock you.
Let’s just dive right in with this picture of my face.
My skin is reactive and angry. My regular routine of oil-cleansing made my face red and caused weird breakouts. I had blotchy, itchy red spots crop up for no reason. There are obvious rough patches near my mouth, and I have cryptkeeper eyes.
The worst part was I just couldn't think straight, and I was easily distracted from the task at hand. I searched high and low for my hairbrush and found it tucked lovingly amongst the cheeses in the fridge. I was in such a fog that I said “I love you” before hanging up the phone with my bank.
But after some sleep, everything changed.
After a haircut and a week of serious rest, I look like this.
No more weird, itchy flare-ups, my eye sockets aren’t visible, and mystery breakouts stopped. And while that’s all well and good, check out the difference my new score on the mental acuity test:
This really made the think about how much better I manage my time and focus when I’m rested. If skin is any indicator of overall health, I was scared straight into getting more sleep. While it initially seemed like a waste of time, my productivity plummets without it.
So go the f#*% to sleep! It’s one of the easiest and best things you can do for your health!
- How many hours a night do you sleep? Do you notice a big difference if you don’t?
- What’s the longest you've gone without sleep? How weird did it get?
- Now I’m addicted to Luminosity as well--has anyone else used it?