The Beauty of Slumber
Slipping into a new season provides a great opportunity to change rhythms. If your summer was dreamy and loose, transitioning to fall might mean a return to structure - and to good sleeping habits, one of the most fundamental paths to healing body, mind, spirit and skin.
We all know the telltale signs of a sleepless night - the dark circles and the dullness - but new scientific studies show that sleep deprivation effects every aspect of wellness, from cardiac health to brain function.
Of course, sleep loss also increases signs of aging - the fine lines, uneven tone and reduced elasticity. When we sleep, our cells work to undo the environmental damage of the day, making deep repairs at the foundation, and making sleep radically important for the skin. During sleep, collagen destroying cortisol levels are at their lowest, while growth hormones prolactin and melatonin, as well as anti-inflammatory beta-endorphins, are at their highest.
At the same time, skin is at its most vulnerable at night, with its ability to retain moisture greatly decreased, making a carefully chosen night cream essential. During this prime-healing span, when absorption is also optimal, skin needs rich nutrients, as well as protection against further moisture loss.
But while there are a handful of incredible formulas available to support health and healing, nothing can replicate the benefits of a solid eight hours of rest - yes, eight! Nothing beats sleep. I like to begin my evening ritual by cleansing my skin, reflecting on my day, gearing down with gentle intent. Another useful suggestion made by sleep experts is to turn off electronic devices a full 90 minutes before going to bed, switching over to reading instead. Another is keeping a consistent bedtime.
If you think of it, constantly altering your bedtime or waking time is like being continually jet-lagged. If you put your heart into it and commit to a new sleeping plan - even just for a month - I think youíll agree that the body simply loves this so-simple luxury. Down time is actually our prime time, re-balancing everything you need to meet each day with the full force of your spirit. Sleep tight!
Iíve often felt that my work comes through my hands, whether Iím working one-on-one in the treatment room or blending formulas in the apothecary. Touch is a transmission of energy, and of intention, holding so much potential in all that we do. Our hands communicate our thoughts with subtle eloquence, but they also facilitate our most important connections, not only through our work, but in touching the things and people we love, or so simply when we prepare a meal or bring flowers to a vase.
It feels especially wonderful to cherish these precise, beautiful instruments - our hands - with extra loving care. At the Spa, we always take time to protect and nourish the delicate skin of the hands, but also to activate their natural capacity for healing with massage, which so easily brings relaxation to the whole being.
You can try this at home: After a bath or a shower, try wrapping the hands in a warm towel for a few moments, then treat yourself to a simple hand massage with a massage oil or Body Lotion. Working in a circular motion will encourage micro-circulation. The formulation contains phytohormones that firm and tone the skin, while also stimulating cell metabolism and regeneration. Rose soothes the heart and rebalances the Qi. Geranium calms the nerves.
At the same time, while almost every ancient medicinal tradition utilizes healing pressure points on the hands to support wellness, there are two especially sensitive points which are easy to find: the webbing between index finger and thumb is richly sensitive. The point is called the Valley of Harmony in Chinese medicine, and helps relieve overall tension and any pain. The second point is known as the Gate of Spirit, and encourages emotional calm. When your hand is palm-up, itís easy to find a small indentation along the pinky side, just where the wrist and palm meet. Youíll know this vibrant spot when you find it! And you may discover that these points could do with an extra moment or two of focus.
Honoring the hands in this simple way can be a true pleasure.