Skip to main content

Originally published Sunday, June 29, 2014 at 6:17 AM

  • Share:
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

The best beauty aid? A good night’s sleep

Tips from experts on how to induce a restful — and beautifying — night’s sleep.

The New York Times


Dr. Amy Wechsler, a New York dermatologist, recently had a patient walk into her office and point to a wrinkle that had not been there a week before.

“I asked what had changed in her life, and sure enough, she hadn’t been sleeping,” Wechsler said.

Beauty is sleep; sleep, beauty. But in our harried multitasking worlds, sleep, like truth, can sometimes be compromised.

Wechsler, the author of “The Mind-Beauty Connection,” said that there’s no quick fix to getting enough sleep, only a slow, mindful one.

“There has to be a plan; you have to slow down,” she said.

The main issue for most of us, according to Michael Breus, a psychologist who calls himself the Sleep Doctor, is anxiety.

“And for that you need something to calm your brain,” he said.

Breus treats patients with cognitive behavioral therapy techniques like “worry journals.” On one page a problem is written out, and on an opposite page a solution, right before bed. Even if the solution is “I’ll figure it out tomorrow,” said Breus, the act of writing out what’s keeping their brains awake helps his patients “close their minds to their lists of anxieties.” For those who wake up in the middle of the night, he offers an MP3 of a progressive muscle-relaxation meditation.

Rubin Naiman, a sleep and dream specialist who conducts workshops at ashrams and spas nationwide, emphasized that people should avoid trying too hard to fall asleep and that they need to learn how to “fall in love with sleep again,” adding that it must be invoked “through ritual and pleasure.”

To that end, Naiman was instrumental in forming the concept behind Sleep Studio, a store in New York’s SoHo that carries luxury skin-care products, silk pajamas and state-of-the-art mattresses.

Cosmetics companies are getting into the game with products like Kneipp’s Deep Sleep Mineral Bath Salt, with valerian and hops, and Éminence’s Age Corrective Night line, made with lavender. Bath and Body Works has an aromatherapy collection called Sleep, which includes a pillow mist, sugar scrub and massage oil. And Hope Gillerman’s essential oil line, which works with acupressure points to ease mind-body stresses, includes a product called Natural Rest Sleep Remedy.

Herbals with calming qualities include valerian and magnolia bark, according to Breus. As for the reputed soothing elements of lavender, he is supportive of it for setting the mood and causing a relaxation response but not for putting you to sleep.

“You don’t just sniff something and pass out,” he said.

Breus advised against alcohol before bed because it keeps you out of delta (deep) sleep, which is where most cellular repair takes place. “Plus it’s a diuretic, which means bathroom breaks will interrupt natural sleep,” he said.

But what if you forgo that glass of wine, complete your worry journal, take a warm bath, sniff your lavender pillow, drink some warm milk, read half of “War and Peace” and are still unable to fall asleep?

This is when Naiman’s Jedi mind tricks may prove helpful.

“Sleep is always there in the background of your consciousness,” he said. “These clinical attempts at sleep are imbued with a sense of determination, but that very thing undermines the process.”

So, Naiman said: “The core issue is learning to surrender, to let go. Sleep is delicious, it’s not just a servant of waking life. It’s to be indulged.”

Four weeks for 99 cents of unlimited digital access to The Seattle Times. Try it now!



Celebrate that amazing NFC win with a poster or tee shirt featuring The Seattle Times Jan. 19 front page. Order now!


Partner Video


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►