Sleep literally controls your eczema.
Many factors affect how bad your flare-ups can get but…
Did you know that sleep is the most important factor that determines whether you can REALLY heal your eczema, or not?
Studies show that people with eczema typically lose about 8 years of sleep in their lifespan.
Here, you’ll learn almost EVERYTHING about sleep and how you can conquer it, so you can have a real recovery.
Plus a bonus at the end.
How Painful Can Sleeplessness Get?
Sleep deprivation is an effective torturing technique, Russia used it on the Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin when he was a NKVD prisoner.
This man was kept awake for a few days and when he was allowed to sleep, he was awoken again and questioned, let’s hear his thoughts:
“In the head of the interrogated prisoner, a haze begins to form. His spirit is wearied to death, his legs are unsteady, and he has one sole desire: to sleep… Anyone who has experienced this desire knows that not even hunger and thirst are comparable with it.” – Menachem Begin
Sleep Deprivation Experiment On Rats
There’s a study on rats when they were sleep deprived for 32 days, all of them died.
Here’s the research.
The scientists came up with 3 main possible conclusions:
- Their body temperature dropped too low and got hypothermia.
- Their immune system weakened so much that their gut bacteria infested into other parts of their body.
- Stress levels combined with brain damage resulted in death.
Fortunately, there haven’t been any significant studies for human beings, who would like to volunteer…?
Actually, human beings are smarter because our body forces us to sleep if we ever happen to be extremely sleep-deprived, it’s consciously uncontrollable.
Ellen Marmur (MD, Dermatology) Tells You The Truth
The nervous system has two states in balance: the sympathetic system and the parasympathetic system (when you sleep).
“The sympathetic system, which is more in control while we’re awake, keeps the blood flow near the core of the body. While we sleep, the parasympathetic nervous system runs the show and blood flow shifts to the skin.”
But when asleep:
Additionally, skin isn’t under attack from the sun and the elements at night. This relaxed parasympathetic state allows greater circulation and oxygen flow to the skin, or peripheral vasodilation in medical terms. This is when the skin gets a lot of internal attention and repair mechanisms go into action, much like the night workmen at Disneyland who fix and restore the rides and clean the place up before the park opens the next day. Receptors spring to life within the blood vessels and grab amino acid molecules (the building blocks) to help build more collagen, and fluid and toxins are drained.”
What about the dark puffiness under the eyes? Here’s the explanation:
“Without enough rest, the skin doesn’t get this repair and restoration, and all that important activity isn’t being done. One example: when excess fluid near the skin isn’t transported to the bladder to be excreted, the result is puffiness. (The kidneys work more actively during the parasympathetic state to convey excess fluid from the circulatory system to the bladder). It shows up most around the eyes because there’s less fat in that area, so water retention is more apparent. As far as dark circles go, a lack of sleep doesn’t cause them (they have more to do with your anatomy, but accentuates them because your skin appears dull and translucent (due to that lack of blood flow to the skin).”
You see, sleep deprivation doesn’t directly cause its symptoms, sleep deprivation causes damages to your inner body WHICH RESULTS in symptoms.
It’s important to understand the cause and effect process, just as it is to understand itchy skin isn’t the cause of eczema, a damaged and toxic body is what really leads to these symptoms.
Eczema is a term classified for its symptoms NOT its cause.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Typical issues that everyone face (image credit):
Now, here’s how a lack of sleep can affect your skin:
- Abnormal stress levels induced by sleep deprivation will lead to increased inflammatory responses, this includes: itchy skin, wrinkles, acne and various skin problems.
- Sleep deprivation reduces the ability of the skin barrier (stratum corneum) to hydrate itself and to produce a protein, collagen (research), that helps lock in the moisture from evaporation.
- Poor function of the skin’s acid mantle, a protective barrier that is designed to ward off infections.
Signs of You Being Sleep-Deprived
- Can’t cope with stress levels.
- You have moody tempers.
- Poor memory.
- Cannot concentrate.
- You feel like eating more.
- Vision problems.
- Bad decision-making.
The most obvious clue: you feel like dozing off during daytime.
I returned all my sleep debts once and I stopped needing an alarm to wake myself up, I woke up automatically after around 8.5 hours every day.
Daily Sleeping Requirements
Although sleeping requirements for individuals may vary, only a rare percentage of the population has special genes that allow them to function with less daily sleep.
Understanding How Sleep Actually Works
Sleep is classified by two types: NREM (non rapid eye movement) and REM (rapid eye movement). Here’s a better description:
REM sleep is the time where we dream and are in the deepest stage of unconsciousness, this is the actual time where your brain gets its energy back.
REM sleep takes a total of only around 120 minutes split into multiple sessions of approximately 20 minute sessions.
NREM takes up the majority of your sleep, it’s a gradual transition from light sleep to deep sleep and finally into REM sleep, then this cycle (approximately 90 minutes) restarts.
NREM sleep is the period of time where your body goes through all kinds of biological functions and maintenance. There are actually 4 stages of NREM sleep, and the last 2 stages of NREM sleep is the period of time where your skin gets treated and maintained.
If you want to promote healing for eczema, you need enough stage 3 and 4 of shut-eye every night.
It’s the time when your body secretes growth hormones and repairs body tissues, including skin cell production.
(More information on the stages of sleep)
The Biological Clock Inside Us
Our body has an inner clock based on the 24 hour schedule, this is how it works:
It’s called the circadian rhythm.
Your inner body clock gets naturally adjusted by sunshine, so you should be sleeping when it’s dark and waking up along with the sunlight.
How To Deal With Sleep With Eczema
If itches ever happen at night, you can’t control them because you were unconscious. Here are several tips to make the best of it:
Dust mites: did you know that millions of tiny little bugs are on your bedding, pillow, skin and clothes feeding off your dead skin cells right now? People can be sensitive to the protein found in their excrement, learn more about these tiny bugs.
Air pollutants: install an air cleaner or purifier to get rid of all the harmful allergens and bacteria in the air.
Humidity: use either a humidifier or dehumidifier in your room if the humidity levels in your place get too extreme.
Temperature: depending on the size of your room, make sure your room is cool enough for you at around twenty-something degrees, because heat is an itch trigger.
Topical treatments: apart from the regular moisturizing routine, you could also apply an anti-itch herbal skin paste before dozing off, this helps reduce your likeliness to scratch at night. Learn how to make your own herbal skin pastes for eczema.
Light clothing: make sure you are not wearing anything artificial, tight or restrictive that will prevent your skin from breathing; blocking the pores will irritate the skin tissues and cause itches.
Safe scratch clothing: there are items that can prevent you from causing damage due to scratching at night, for example: long sleeved clothing, gloves and the popular Scratch Me Not (infants only).
Practical Advice on Better Sleep
My personal tip is to maintain the same sleeping pattern everyday and if I ever accumulate sleep debts during weekdays, my goal on that day is to find time to take my recovery nap as soon as I can (for at least 90 minutes so I can actually get those REM sleep, remember?).
Naps are useless if you never get to REM, so stop taking those 30 minute naps.
This is to avoid piling everything up for the weekend to sleep in, so you don’t mess up your inner body clock.
- Don’t eat right before you sleep.
- No foods high in spiciness, sugar and fat.
- Avoid acidifying foods such as corn, Coke, vinegar; refer to the acid-alkaline food charts.
- Avoid foods high in natural chemicals such as MSG, refer to the natural chemicals potency tables.
- No substances that affect sleep: caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and all kinds of sleep-related drugs.
- Cut down your omega-6 intake and raise omega-3 (check out problems with today’s diets), omega-3 promotes sleep, too.
- Do some stretches right before sleep, I personally do a routine of 4 sets of leg stretches every night before I go to bed.
- Try reading a physical book before sleep, it induces sleepiness.
- Exercise a few hours before you go to sleep, but not right before it.
- Don’t nap too much during the day, just sleep early at night.
- Don’t use too much brain power, don’t think of complicated things or trying to solve a problem before you sleep. Nighttime is for simplicity.
Natural Foods That Promote Sleep
- Chamomile tea
- Warm milk
That’s because these foods contain sleep-promoting nutrients including: tryptophan, magnesium, Vitamin B6 and B12.
BONUS: How To Wake Up Without Extreme Tiredness
Here’s a trick to help you wake up with an extreme reduction in sleepiness, it’s more of a brain hack.
We need REM sleep to really get those energy recharges. The problem is, when we have messed up sleeping times, sometimes we wake up during deep sleep.
Waking up in REM causes extreme tiredness, because you’re suddenly getting disturbed from strong unconsciousness.
The trick is to deliberately time yourself to wake up during NREM (light sleep).
We know that a sleep cycle takes about 90 minutes and then another cycle begins again starting at stage 1 NREM – the amount of repetitions depend on your age. Rather than setting an alarm clock at a specific time such as 7am in the morning, use a countdown timer for ONLY multiples of 90 minutes.
For example: I’d ONLY wake up after sleeping for 90 minutes, 180 minutes, 270, 360, 450 and so on.
Use a countdown, not an alarm.
Extra Sleep Resources
Sleepdex – a website with information all about sleep.
How Much Sleep Do You Need? – this article has some good information on sleep cycles and needs.
How To Sleep Better Tips – some nice tips to help your sleep.
Vitamins and Supplements – here are nutrients to take to promote sleep.
To Eczema Sufferers
Sleep is a critical trigger to eczema symptoms, and if you’re aiming for the fastest recovery possible, make sure you have enough hours.
Most people don’t have sleep disorders; we just have a busy life that gets us sleep deprived, not to exclude internet use and TV use.
Let’s simplify: get your required hours every night, and your body will do its job best to promote skin healing.