If there are one of two things you can catch a pageant contestant doing after the show, it is either one, eating donuts, or two, taking the famous sleeping photo.
Who doesn’t wake up in the morning and think about the next time you will be back in bed? Or worse, you find yourself hitting that infamous snooze button just a few more times. Admittedly, sleep is the best thing ever, right? We all love it and could probably use more of it. Sleeping is not only crucial to a better mood and day but it is also the easiest (and laziest) way to work out.
If you are not getting enough or the right amount of sleep, you are hurting your chances of winning your dream crown. Here are several reasons why sleep is important for your pageant prep and how to improve your sleep tonight.
1. Improve Performance
“Not sleeping means you cannot get rid of the calories as fast,” Dakolios said. “Which, in turn, will make you crave more junk food and trip up your diet. Women need more sleep than men.”
In a Standford University study, college football players who tried to get around 10 hours of sleep for seven to eight weeks had faster sprint times and overall performance on game days. More sleep improves brain function and cognition. It is no surprise students who cram at the last minute or sacrifice sleep to study often have lower grades.
Sleeping can help improve your creativity and ability to store information in your long-term memory rather than your short-term memory.
Think of sleep as an opportunity to recharge your brain. (Read: How To Make A Performance Entertaining)
2. Weight Loss
You build muscle and lose weight while sleeping. This is the time the body is repairing the cells and tissues from the day’s workouts and other activities.
Brian suggests contestants aim for seven to nine hours of straight sleep with no interruptions.
“What you’ll find is a contestant won’t get the results they want when it comes to weight loss if their sleep pattern is constantly being disrupted,” he said.
This includes those late night trips to the bathroom. If you wake up at 7 a.m., usually you want to go to bed around 9:00 to 10:30 p.m.
When you are asleep, your body releases growth hormones. Another study that followed the sleep habit of 500 people for 13 years found that the people who got less than seven hours of sleep a night over time were more likely to be overweight or obese. (Read: How To Lose Weight (and safely) For Your Next Pageant)
3. Get Beautiful
There is a reason why it is called “Beauty Sleep.” Sleeping drastically improves skin health. Remember the growth hormones mentioned earlier? Part of those hormones includes collagen production. With an adequate amount of sleep, your skin will look radiant, firm and bright.
At night, your skin cells are regenerating and the facial muscles that create lines and wrinkles are in a relaxed state. Prevent those heinous bags under your eyes with proper shut-eye and your makeup artist will thank you.
Bonus Tip: Ditch the salty food ahead of bedtime. This will only puff you up and make you look more swollen.
Want more beauty products that won’t break the bank? Try some DIY tricks using products in your own kitchen.
4. Improve Mood
Who doesn’t feel like a Negative Nancy after a poor night of sleep? Good sleep can prevent irritability and making impulse or rash decisions. Anxiety and stress levels decrease overnight, so you wake up feeling refreshed.
According to Brian, “When you are stressed, your brain is releasing cortisol. Without sleep, your cortisol levels increase thus your stress levels increase and the melatonin needed for sleep decreases.”
Melatonin is a brain chemical that resets your body clock at night. Your brain releases this chemical as you unwind in the evening to help you fall and stay asleep. You can disrupt this chemical release with too light. Your brain will think it is still time to be up even though it is late in the day.
“Light restricts melatonin from being produced,” Brian said. “Turn off the lights and limit light exposure in your bedroom when you sleep. Your eyelids are thin and light can still see light with your eyes closed, so it is best to sleep in total darkness.”
Tips to Improve Sleep
The closer your pageant, the more items you have to do and things running through your mind. If you really want to know what a pageant contestant is thinking about in the months, days, weeks and hours up until competition, think of it as having 100 tabs open on your computer. As your competition draws near, one thing you do not want to sacrifice is sleep.
If you do not sleep well, everyone (including the judges) will notice. Here are some simple tricks you can start doing right now to get a good night’s sleep.
Is your pageant quickly approaching? Check out our Tips For Getting Enough Sleep During Pageant Weekend article to help you right up to your competition.
If you have 1,000 things running through your mind, have a notebook or pad next to your bed to write down everything you are thinking about. Getting your thoughts organized and in writing is the best way to avoid having them haunt you at night and keep you up.
Brian calls this a brain dump.
“Be honest with yourself about your tasks to do the next day.” Then forget about them and go to sleep.
Eating too late at night keeps your body up as it is working to digest. If you cannot stay asleep, watch the carbs you are eating at dinner.
“You want to aim for a meal that is high in fiber and has a low glycemic index,” Brian said.
Think, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, beans, granola, peas, legumes and corn.
Stop drinking caffeinated drinks around 1 p.m. Coffee and green tea are best in the morning. Drinking caffeine too late in the day can cause you to stay awake longer at night.
People sleep better in colder temperatures. According to Brian, setting your room temperature at 68 degrees is best for a person to fall asleep.
Some of the best late night activities to fall asleep include stretching, 15-30 minutes of yoga, taking a good bath (throw in Himalayan Pink Salt, Apple Cider Vinegar, Magnesium or Lavender oil for added benefits), 15 minutes of meditation or reading a physical book.
(Here are some more sleep mistakes you are making and how to correct them tonight!)
Bonus Tip: The light from your phone will block melatonin levels, so if you have an iPhone, turn on the night shift option to switch the blue background light to a dimmer yellow. Set it to come on around 8 p.m. and turn off when you wake up. It will change automatically. Go to settings -> Display & Brightness -> Night Shift to set your hours.
It’s important to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day, including weekends. Using the weekends to catch up on lost sleep works against you. Sticking to a regular sleep seven days a week will allow your body to perform at its peak and also keep your hormones at a regular schedule too.
On top of the walking, interview prep and wardrobe shopping, do not forget to take your health into perspective and turn completely off at the end of the day.
Best of luck, ladies!