Crystal Hammon is a writer and vintage fashion enthusiast who lives two miles from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Her blog, Dressed Her Days Vintage, is the pink champagne every paid writer needs—a place to say whatever she wants, however she wants. She covers the evolution of fashion, etiquette and culture, and celebrates the upside of life after 50. She loves Karina’s vintage dresses style. Follow her @DHDVintage or on Facebook.
Coco Chanel was way ahead of her times on a lot of things. One of them was getting enough rest. Although she was famous for her work ethic, Coco knew when and how to call it quits for a day. Rather than schlepping out to all the soirees in Paris, where she would have been her own best model, she sent society girls who loved to see and be seen wearing Chanel.
While they were out promoting Chanel, she was at home, quietly reading and resting. Her habit was to get in bed as early as possible so she was well rested for an eight-hour workday, which often didn’t start until noon, according to her biographer, Karen Karbo, author of Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons From The World’s Most Elegant Woman.
How many of the world’s problems might be solved if we all had such a deliberate plan for living. There’s no better example than the widespread problem of insomnia.
You have to wonder why something as basic as sleep requires training, but that’s exactly the case. The 24/7 world we live in is so tantalizing that sleep can hardly compete—or so we think. The only sleep routine some of us have is staring into our smart phones and IPads until we’ve lost track of time, not to mention the natural body signals that tell us it’s time for bed. And that’s just one of sleep’s many foes.
There’s a $20 billion industry of drugs, supplements, beds, sleep clinics and other products to help us get better sleep—and more of it. But our problem is mostly self-inflicted rather than from legitimate biological causes or anxiety. We tend to think of sleep as optional, but how many of us try to get by with less food or air?
I interview a lot of people in healthcare for my job. Their descriptions of what sleep does for the body make it sound like a magic bullet, especially if you’re concerned about aging well and looking your best. Why spend $80 on an anti-aging cream when a good night’s sleep may do just as well?
Here are just a few of the benefits from a good night’s sleep.
- Sleep has a close relationship with appetite and metabolism, which means it’s tied to maintaining healthy body weight. As an example, your body has less leptin, a hormone that controls your feeling of satisfaction after eating. Without it, you’re inclined to eat more and exercise less.
- Researchers once believed that insufficient sleep affected health in the long term, but new science shows that elevated glucose levels (a precursor to diabetes) occur after only four days without enough sleep.
- Better sleep lowers your risk of injury from accidents. If you’ve every walked around feeling like a zombie from a night of insomnia, there’s no need to explain that thought.
- In the deep REM stage of sleep, the body does its own repair work, turning over new cells. That’s particularly helpful to skin and other organs. Hey, they don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing. For further proof, one need only look at the before and after pictures of our presidents after four to eight years of sleep deprivation.
- Sleep boosts the body’s immune system, which helps explain why people often get sick when stress interferes with sleep. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather make time for sleeping than for being sick.
The basics of good sleep are really just common sense that most of us need to revisit. Have a regular bedtime. Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine close to bedtime. Don’t end your day with work (especially computer work), television or social media. Journal the next day’s concerns before you retire for the evening. You’re less likely to obsess over them once the lights are out.
If these ideas sound improbable, then consider glamourizing sleep. It seemed to work for Chanel, who held her age quite nicely, and worked right up until her death at the age of 87.
Here are fun ways to make rest more glamourous.
- Make a sanctuary out of your bedroom. Declutter the room, and remove anything that reminds you of work. Surround yourself with your favorite colors, art and objects. Redecorate with what you have or plan a small redecorating project that makes the room more inviting. For some of us, that could be as simple as making the bed when we get up in the morning, setting the stage for a restful night.
- Take a calming shower or warm bath before bed.
- Add an hour of prayer or meditation, preceded by time with sacred scriptures or words of inspiration.
- Choose a pillow that’s built for the way you sleep—hopefully on your side or back. Stomach sleepers, reform! Don’t you know it’s bad for your neck? Or at least that’s what my physical-therapist friends tell me.
- Indulge in silk or satin pillowcases—a double benefit because it’s easy on your skin!
- Buy yourself beautiful robes, pajamas and nightgowns.
You know what I love about my Karina Dresses? They’re so comfortable, I feel like I’m wearing jammies! After falling in love with this short-sleeve Lauren over the summer, I’m jazzed about the new pre-fall version and vintage dresses.
At one point, Coco Chanel had an all white bedroom with only a few precious mementos on her bedside table. That’s what she found calming. What’s your favorite way to fall asleep?