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How to Look Fresh and Rested After a Sleepless Night

No sleep? No problem. Here are some key things to remember the next time you don’t get your needed shuteye.

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We’ve all been there. No matter what the reason, whether you’ve been partying till the break of dawn or furiously finishing papers due the very next day, all nighters leave us feeling a little haggard and weak. More often than not, you’re needed to perform at your best the following morning. While a quick caffeine fix can help you stay afloat, coffee does nothing to help you in looking well rested. It’s bad enough when you feel tired and drained, but it’s worse when the evidence is written all over your face.

According to a study conducted by the British Medical Journal, when people don’t get enough sleep, they are seen as less attractive and less healthy by others. This is because during our downtime, the skin performs some vital functions in keeping you looking your best. These include releasing toxins via the sweat glands, repairing and regenerating the cells that produce collagen (which is what keeps skin tight and supple), releasing melatonin (an antioxidant that fights fine lines and age spots), and reducing the amounts of cortisol (the stress hormone that causes discoloration and stretch marks).

But for some of us, an early night in isn’t so easy to come by. What do you do when your schedule’s a little jam-packed or when sleep isn’t just coming as easy as it should?

Relax; we’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide for you to make sure you always looking your best even if you didn’t get that much rest.

Be Prepared. Practice Preventative Care

Woman in Bed Drinking Tea 3

1. Have a Glass or Two

Always keep hydrated by drinking herbal teas, water, and juices. When you’re feeling parched constantly, it’ll eventually show on your skin, and can gradually lead to dryness, loss of elasticity and an increase in wrinkling. Avoid consuming a lot alcoholic and caffeinated beverages on a continuous basis. Alcohol is a depressant and damages your sleep cycle, while caffeine lengthens the 2nd phase of your sleep cycle, or the time which your brain reorganizes and processes the day. When you drink caffeine late in the day, it’ll keep you up and prevent you from falling asleep when its actually time for bed.

Moreover, these have a tendency of dehydrating you and your skin. Too much of both makes your blood vessels to dilate, and causes skin flushing and puffiness the morning after, according to CNN/InStyle.

2. You are What You Eat

Aside from drinking lots of the right fluids, be sure to load up on fresh vegetables and fruits. When you eat healthy, you stay healthy. Freshness is key. So avoid premade frozen foods when you can as those are packed with preservatives and salts. Fried foods aren’t ideal either. Not only are they bad for you in the long run, but also they’re also difficult to digest.

Eating once and plentiful for the day results in your body directing all your energy in digesting the food you’ve eaten. So keep meals small and light, but frequent. Not only will this help you in feeling alert, but this will also help prevent you from feeling sluggish.

Feeling peckish before bedtime? Why not give these foods an hour or so before you hit the sack.

3. Clean and Moisturize

woman in 40s moisturize face skin

Before going to bed, be sure to clean off all the make up, dirt, and grime from your face. Use products that include hyaluronic acid or shea butter to lock in hydration on your skin. It’s important to let your skin rest and breathe properly.

4. Quit Smoking

Not only is smoking bad for your skin’s overall appearance, (it affects your body’s level of hyaluronic acid for one), but nicotine can actually keep you awake and in certain doses inhibits the onset of sleep entirely.

5. Avoid Artificial Lights When You’re Nearing Bedtime

According to Dr. Nakamori Suganuma of Osaka University, Japan, “”Internet use affected self-perceived insufficient sleep more than TV watching…not only in younger Internet users but also in middle-aged or aged Internet users.” He and his team conducted a study that found that almost half of their participants reported the lack of sleep having a direct correlation with using electronic media (anything with a backlit screen, such as a computer or TV) prior to going to bed.

6. Take Supplements

Melatonin is an extremely important hormone for sleep, but as we get older, our body naturally produces less of it. Be sure to melatonin supplements or use products that have it to help your skin maximize its repair cycle during your downtime. Consult your doctor first on the right dosage for you.

7. Be Prepared

We already told you what are the essential must-haves in your travel make-up kit, and several of these will come in handy during your morning afters. Eye drops are a great immediate relief for getting rid of bleary, red eyes. A mineral water spray helps brighten your skin. Moisturizer and eye cream will keep your sallow and tired skin hydrated and rejuvenated. Don’t forget to put on some sunblock to protect you from the harmful rays of the sun

Remember: always be sure to keep a well-stocked make-up kit with you at all times. You’ll never know when you’ll need it!

Refresh Yourself Inside and Out

1.      Work from Within

a.   Bust a Move

woman running with dumbbells

Yes, moving around more than you really need to seems like the last thing you want to do, but a short burst of exercise is what you need to give your body that jolt of adrenaline and then some. A little light cardio consisting of say, a 10-minute jog around the block is just what you need to help you stay alert. If you a little pressed for time, then some stretching followed by some jumping jacks should do the trick.

Remember not to overdo it. You don’t want to burn out the little energy that you have.

b.   Think Blue

While your jogging, look up and keep your eyes on the sky. Of all the colors, blue prompts a photoreceptor in the eye that reduces the production melatonin.

c.   Play you favorite song

On your short run, why not play your current and favorite upbeat tunes? According to the Fundamental & Clinical Pharmacology, doing so will cause neurotransmitters to be released that will increase your alertness, focus and the speed at which you process information.

d.   Hydrate and caffeinate

Follow your coffee (a diuretic, or something that makes you pee more) with some water. This will help you feel more awake. The combination of not getting enough rest and too much coffee will usually leave you dehydrated, and can add to your feeling of fatigue, so rehydrating will help flush out the impurities in your system and will lessen the puffiness in your face.

2. Fake It Until You Make It

a.   Scrub Down

Reenergize your entire body by scrubbing down your entire body to invigorate your skin. As you end your shower, gradually change the settings to cool to help stimulate blood flow. Apply some rich and creamy moisturizing lotion all over to hydrate your skin.

b.   Play It Hot and Cold

Give yourself a mini-facial. Take a clean facecloth, dip it into a mix of cold milk and ice cubes, and after wringing it out, place onto your face for around 5 minutes or so. If your skin is a little blotchy, suck on some ice while you wait.

No milk? Just soak and wring your face towel in hot water and leave on for 10 minutes. Then, thoroughly splash your face with cold water about 15 times. This is one of the easiest, cheapest, simplest ways to get your skin glowing.

c. Reduce Puffiness

Do you have bags under your eyes? You can get cooling eye pads from any drug store, but you can also make use of things you have in the pantry too. Green tea is packed with antioxidants and caffeine so soak two bags on cool water and place them over your eyes for 5 minutes. If you’re anticipating a long, sleepless night, soak the tea bags in milk the evening before, or freeze thin slices of cucumber. No cucumber? Some raw potato will do just as well too.

Always have a stash of your favorite eye cream in the fridge for occasions such as these. This makes the cream more soothing and relieving to your puffy, tired peepers. Remember to look for products that have revitalizing botanicals in them like chamomile, briar rose, or cucumber.

Are your eyes red, itchy, and bleary? Always keep some eye drops handy for immediate relief.

Don’t forget the rest of your face! Sleepless nights can lead to dehydration, so make sure you choose the perfect moisturizer to lock moisture back into your skin. For people who have oily skin, be sure to use something with salicylic acid to keep the shine at bay. If you’ve got dry skin, use a heavier type of cream. For people with mixed skin types, try something that’s water-based. Finish with some sunblock to help protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun.

d. Keep Your Make-up Basic, Simple, and Clean

makeup woman with earrings

Your skin is worn out from the night before, so its best to let it breathe and recuperate as much as possible by wearing no or minimal make up. If you must wear some, avoid heavy foundation and opt for tinted moisturizer instead to help even out your skin tone. When applying concealer, apply only minimal amounts- a dot on the outer, middle and inner corner of the under-eye area. Don’t put too much and make sure to blend to make sure it isn’t too obvious. To blend, use your ring finger and sweep the concealer in an outward motion until it is even all over the desired area. After, gently pat down.

If you feel like you could still use something to perk your look up, use a teensy amount of highlighter powder. Careful not to put too much or you might end up looking like a bewildered raccoon.

e. Open Your Eyes

Having trouble keeping your eyelids open? Use an eyelash curler to instantly give them a more alert and open look. Apply two coats of mascara to give them an extra oomph and perky appeal.

If you want to add a little color to them, avoid colors that will make you look more haggard. Anything dark or somber should be saved for another time (this also applies to your lipstick du jour). Soft coppers or caramels look great on any eye color, while green and purple hues just make your eyes appear redder. Using a nude or white liner, apply a thin line on your lower lids and dot the inner corners as well to really open them up.

f. Brighten Up

If you’re too weary to apply any make-up at all, but you don’t want to look like the walking dead either, add a little life to the apples of your cheeks by applying some bronzer then some peach-toned blush. This will also brighten your skin tone. The bronzer gives an extra layer of definition to your puffy, tired smile. Putting some bronzer under your jawline will help as well.

A bright, matte lipstick is your best friend during times of trouble. It takes the focus off your tired peepers. A vivid red or any intense shade of coral should do the trick.

g. Bad Hair Day Blues?

Running late and no time to wash out your greasy locks? Use some dry shampoo to help keep the oil away. Afterwards, blast your roots with a quick blow dry. Or even simpler, opt for a slicked-back, clean and simple bun or ponytail.

h.  Dress to Impress

When you’re running low on energy, what you wear helps you perk up your mood. Wear something bright to liven up your spirit. However, not all colors are your friends. Blues, greens, pinks, and purples should be worn for another day. Think vivid hues like neon shades and anything red, yellow, or orange.

The key to looking your best without rest is to make sure that your outfit is neat and tidy. If you look disheveled or messy, not only does it look unattractive, but also it’s a dead giveaway that you didn’t get much shuteye. Opt for something classic, structured, and simple. Anything tailored or well-fitted will help give the illusion that you’ve got it all under control.

If All Else Fails…

Still feeling tired and slow, and is your work affected by it? Don’t worry. According to the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, this is because during sleep, your brain is not only concretizing memories from the day, but it is also busy rearranging and organizing them. This is why you can think better and have different perspectives on things after a good night’s rest.

If you’re having trouble keeping up with the rest of the day, and you’re really craving for a little bit of shut eye to revive your senses, a caffeine-nap combination is very effective.  Simply take some coffee that’s followed with a bit of water, then take a short nap. According to Jim Horne, director of the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University, this makes the perfect combination as caffeine takes about 20 minutes to kick in. So when you combine this with a nap, you wake up feeling more alert and refreshed. Just make sure you don’t sleep any longer than this as you then move into deep sleep territory, and waking up from this state will leave you in a worse situation than you were in before.

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Niccole is a blogger based in Madrid, but is frequently in America and Asia as well. She's owned a private catering company, been a private language tutor, and a personal assistant.

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