Build a Better Beauty Sleep Ritual

Osmia Night Body Oil— relaxing to the nervous system and so restorative to your skin.

Osmia Night Body Oil— relaxing to the nervous system and so restorative to your skin.

I absolutely love sleep.

I've said many times that good sleep is even more valuable than the most expensive night cream you can buy. It's so important for skin, energy, weight, moods—you name it—that I devoted a whole chapter to beauty sleep in my book Eat Pretty. Did you know that when you sleep your body secretes anti-aging hormones that boost skin cell production, increase collagen synthesis, and speed up damage repair? And that lack of sleep contributes to collagen breakdown, immune suppression, as well as slowed metabolism and cravings for sugar and simple carbs? Good sleep is a beauty MUST HAVE.

One key to getting the kind of sleep that's most restorative to your skin and balancing to your hormones is regularity. Your body, and nature, loves a regular cycle. Maintaining a similar schedule of sleep and wake times goes a long way toward optimizing your restorative pillow time. And the time you turn out the light and go to sleep is also key. I strongly believe that there is an ideal bedtime window (which varies in individuals but is between 9 and 11pm in general) for falling asleep to prevent a nighttime surge in cortisol, the stress hormone that has many negative effects on your beauty and sleep if it remains high. Find your ideal lights-out time (mine is 10:30) and try not to stay up past it.

And there's really so much more you can do to get fabulous beauty sleep. Ahead, I share some of the most effective strategies for optimizing your precious hours of beauty rest...

My top 5 beauty sleep rituals—practice them to look & feel better in the morning!

1. Shut off your devices at a reasonable time. When I'm on my computer or phone late, my sleep is noticeably worse. Blue light from screens is partially to blame, but your brain being keyed-up with work or social media plays a part too. I try to set a nightly shut-off time for my devices (say, 9pm) and stick to that as often as I can to protect my sleep health.

2. Sip something warm and calming. I keep a stash of herbal teas and reach for them when I want snacks, sweets, or chocolate late at night—which I know will disturb my sleep. Many herbal teas actually help relax you. Nighttime favorites include a digestive blend (see p 309 in Eat Pretty Every Day for ingredients), tulsi, or a Natural Calm magnesium drink, which further relaxes the body and prepares it for restful sleep.

3. Take a bath. You already know that baths feel amazing, but do you know why they're especially sleep-inducing? Baths raise your body temperature and then lower it when you exit the bath, signaling to your body that it's time for sleep. Add some salts and essential oils like lavender and sandalwood for even greater chill factor. I'd take one every night if I could, but I settle for days when I've been especially busy or stressed, and it helps me wind down.

4. Set aside nightly self-care time. Yes, washing your face counts as self-care. But I challenge you to do more. If you bathe or shower at night, definitely opt for a dry brushing ritual, followed by a head-to-toe natural or organic body oil or lotion. Your skin and body will be so relaxed, and you'll get the best sleep. Right now I am using the incredibly lovely Osmia Night body oil from the latest Beauty Heroes Discovery Box, and it's the best pre-sleep oil I've ever used. It combines more than a half-dozen organic oils (think evening primrose, hemp, kukui nut, avocado...) with organic French lavender and Roman chamomile, two classic calming botanicals that are ideal for nighttime. Overall, this particular oil is relaxing to the nervous system and so restorative to your skin. After this ritual, you'll feel so luxurious you'll want to sleep in silk sheets!

5. Clear your mind. Taking 3 minutes to write a quick to-do list for the next day helps me feel less stressed and more organized before getting into bed. Nothing keeps me up more than a racing mind. I also love journaling my thoughts, or even taking time to express gratitude, in my head or in writing, for the gifts of the day.

What's your must-do ritual for beautifying sleep? You can read more in-depth about the foods and habits that support great sleep in Eat Pretty!

Meditation for Beauty- and Win My Favorite Meditation App!

People ask me what I still struggle with most when it comes to beauty— is it sugar cravings? missing coffee? finding enough time to cook at home?

Nope, it's none of those things. My struggle is way more complicated than forgoing a brownie or cup of coffee— it's STRESS.

There are plenty of days when I toe the very fine line between balancing it all fabulously and feeling crushed by the weight of overwhelm. My mind switches between my roles as a mother, sister, wife, daughter, coach, author and editor like a flashing strobe light. And guess what? This is something we ALL deal with in one way or another. It's one more of our shared human experiences, and I think one of the best ways to deal is to support and empower each other to develop the tools to push back against stress mode when it hits.

My stress-reducing arsenal includes walking (living in a city, I love that I can fit in walks while running errands; walking instantly lowers stress), mindful breathing, my favorite magnesium drink Natural Calm, stress-busting aromatherapy, power naps (I'll admit, I've taken 10-minute power naps on my office floor when in dire need of a time out), and meditation. This last one is big.

I've dabbled in meditation for several years, but didn't fully commit until January 2015, when I set the intention to meditate for 10 minutes a day, every day. I don't know what's harder, sitting in meditation for 10 minutes, or finding 10 minutes to sit and meditate! I've tried all kids of apps to help me stay consistent when I'm traveling, and I finally found one that I love so much, I even use it when I'm at home. It's called OMG. I Can Meditate!, and I am so excited to give away ten 3-month memberships to OMG this week!

To enter to win one of ten 3-month memberships to the OMG. I Can Meditate! app, comment, tweet and/or follow, via the box below, by 6/5/15.

A screengrab from a meditation session in the OMG. I Can Meditate! app.

A screengrab from a meditation session in the OMG. I Can Meditate! app.

The connection between stress and beauty is real. Getting stress under control can be the key to restoring hormone balance, boosting the body's natural detox abilities, improving digestion, and lowering inflammation. Many of my clients struggle with breakouts that are connected to hormones and stress, and we work hard to develop ways to manage stress even as we build a diet that clears skin from the inside out. Stress greatly impacts sleep/wake cycles, weight and adrenal fatigue— all important for our overall beauty and wellbeing.

If there's one thing I would challenge you to do to lower your stress this year (and reap the added benefits of increased mental focus, reduced anxiety, and more radiant skin!), it would be regular meditation. Apps are great ways to start, and I fell in love with OMG. I Can Meditate!, for its beautiful images, relaxing narration voice (of its creator, Lynne Goldberg), and all kinds of cool extras— from bedtime meditations that help you fall asleep to kids meditations and 'missions,' where you choose your ongoing intentions. I'm still discovering all the content.

Enter to win your 3-month membership below— you will LOVE it!