Sleeping beauties: celebrities love sleep too

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Ever wondered how your favourite celebrity always looks so good? The secret could be as simple as getting enough quality sleep.

Sleep and skincare experts agree that good quality sleep is one of the best beauty and anti-aging treatments available. While we sleep, our bodies heal and repair damage, such as from daily stresses and UV rays, that can age us. So the more quality sleep you get, the better – and younger – you’ll look and feel.

The proof? Here’s a selection of beautiful people who reportedly love their sleep:

  • Elle MacPherson says her number one beauty tip is sleep – read more by clicking here.
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones reveals to Vogue that sleep is her big beauty tip – click here.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow tells readers of her lifestyle website, Goop, to get some sleep – read it here
  • Kim Kardashian says that sleep is her best beauty tip. Click here and here to read more.

  • Kate Moss reveals that sleep is one of her top beauty secrets – click here.
  • Eva Mendes says “no thanks” to kids and “yes please” to more shut eye. Read more by clicking here.
  • Lisa Snowdon tells The Sun that “beauty starts in bed”. Click here for more.
  • J-Lo claims to sleep 8 hours every night – read more by clicking here.
  • Cameron Diaz reportedly likes her sleep too much to become a mum – click here.
  • Denise Van Outen looks after her skin by getting plenty of sleep – click here for more.
  • Evangeline Lilly’s heath tip is to get eight hours of sleep – read it here.

My top tip: Swap the expensive creams and facials for more good quality sleep….then buy a new dress with all the cash you’ve saved!

Could a lack of sleep be making you fat?

I spent the weekend in the lovely English countryside with my other half. It was wonderful….until 5am yesterday morning when we had to drag ourselves out of bed – after around five and half hour’s sleep – and drive back to London for my other half’s 7am start time.

After the initial shock of getting up in the middle of the night (it felt like that, anyway) I felt exhilarated by my early start. The sun was coming up as we drove and by 6:30am I was in London and ready to start my day, having already listened to the morning news on the way in.  I’ll admit it, I felt rather smug.

Things started to go downhill at about 9am. I suddenly felt tired and lacking in energy. Despite my usual daddy-bear-sized bowl of porridge only a few hours earlier, I also felt very hungry. I wanted thick white toast smeared with butter and jam. And Crunchy Nut Cornflakes. And chocolate biscuits.

I managed to get through the day, succumbing to my rumbling stomach only once or twice more than usual. It took sheer determination to stop myself from finishing off the box of Maltesers in the cupboard though.

I mentioned my increased appetite to my other half, after polishing off three large chicken fajitas for tea last night. He, too, had felt especially hungry that day – although he is constantly hungry so I’m not sure how remarkable that is!

I reflected on our conversation later that evening. Was our greediness that day a consequence of our lack of sleep the night before?

First thing this morning – after an early night and a glorious eight hours of sleep – I did a spot of research. And there was my answer in black and white: according to a number of scientific studies, a lack of sleep increases feelings of hunger, which can lead to eating more and gaining weight.

I found three 2004 studies[1], that had all found a link between sleep and the hormones that are involved in regulating appetite – ghrelin, which makes you feel hungry and leptin, which suppresses appetite. These studies found that people who slept for shorter durations had increased ghrelin levels and reduced leptin levels. Wow!

One of these 2004 studies, reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, also found that sleep deprivation affects our food choices. In that study, when sleep was restricted, the participants craved calorie-dense foods with high carbohydrate content.

In a recent study, reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in March 2010, the participants (healthy, normal-weight young men) took in 22% more calories, on average, when they’d slept for four hours the night before, compared to when they slept for eight hours. The average calorie increase after a night of restricted sleep was about 560, equivalent to a Dominos cheese and tomato pizza!

This is fascinating! The results match my own experience completely – increased appetite, craving carbs and eating more calories than normal. What an eye-opener.

So, the next time you’re feeling extra peckish, consider whether your sleeping habits could be to blame. And, if you’re trying to lose weight, getting some more quality sleep could be the key to shifting those pounds!

[1] Karine Spiegel, PhD; Esra Tasali, MD; Plamen Penev, MD, PhD; and Eve Van Cauter, PhD (7 December 2004)“Brief Communication: Sleep Curtailment in Healthy Young Men Is Associated with Decreased Leptin Levels, Elevated Ghrelin Levels, and Increased Hunger and Appetite”, Annals of Internal Medicine, vol 141: pp 846-850

Does the lack of sleep make you fat? (7 December 2004) Bristol University Press Release

Shahrad Taheri, Ling Lin, Diane Austin, Terry Young, Emmanual Mignot (December 2004) Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index Public Library of Science Medicine

New study links lack of sleep to an early death!

If I didn’t have enough reasons already to improve my sleeping habits, here’s another one to add to the list. New research, reported in the journal Sleep, found that people who regularly slept for less than six hours a night were 12% more likely to die prematurely over a 25 year period than those who slept for the recommended six to eight hours each night.

To read the BBC News’ article about the findings, click here.

Wonderful sleep

Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care

The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath

Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,

Chief nourisher in life’s feast.

~William Shakespeare, Macbeth

It’s clear that sleep is necessary for us all and that getting enough good quality sleep can make a huge difference to the quality of our lives.  According to sleep experts, it can make us happier, healthier, better looking and more productive.  Brilliant!

It’s also well-documented that many of us don’t get enough of this wonder remedy. Let’s face it, it’s difficult to fit in several hours of uninterrupted quality shut eye every night and work full-time, run a home, be a good partner, daughter or son and friend, keep up to date with the news, read the latest Pulitzer prize winner……and the list goes on and on. Fitting it all in and raising a child or two on the side seems like an impossibility. With endless to-do lists and the ability to work on them 24 hours a day (anyone else been up at 2am placing their Ocado order?) it’s easy to let our sleep suffer. And even when we finally allow ourselves the luxury of going to bed, exhausted, we can’t sleep or we wake in the night or we wake up feeling groggy and unrefreshed.

So, how can we attain the perfect night’s sleep, every night? With so many doctors, sleep experts, mums, next-door neighbours, etc, etc, offering their tips for getting a better night’s sleep and companies promising us our best night’s sleep ever if only we buy their bed or herbal tea, who has the time or energy to test them all out?

……Welcome to my blog, amylovessleep! I will be testing every sleep tip, trick, theory and product I can get my hands on and sharing my experiences about what actually works.

Since what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another, I urge you to join me in my pursuit of life’s “chief nourisher” – wonderful sleep!