Whether we are escaping the mundanity of our restricted lives or the messiness of our social media feeds, a woman’s nighttime routine has become a much-needed tool to disconnect and relax. In this series “How I Wind Down…”, we speak to a lot of different women about how they prepare for a restful evening.

Olivia Arezzolo
Credit: Supplied

Did you know, that 46 percent of Australians have experienced insomnia throughout the pandemic according to the Sleep Health Foundation’s Annual Report from 2020? Given the recent lockdown, that number could be higher. It’s unlikely that you’d speak to anyone that sleeps well right now and more importantly, aren’t feeling the draining affects of our current world order. And if you’re like us, then your skin isn’t doing too well either.

Despite common misconceptions, beauty sleep is real. According to a 1996 report, Physiology Of Growth Hormone Secretion During Sleep,“Sleep is vital for good skin health, with 70% of the human growth hormone (a catalyst for collagen production), produced in slow wave, deep sleep.”

In an important reminder to nurture your wind down routine, Edible Beauty has unveiled a limited-edition Sleeping Beauty bundle set to encourage the most calming nighttime routine. We’ve spoken to many models, artists, influencers and even entrepreneurs on how they prepare for a restful night of sleep. But there has been no one more fitting than an expert in the field. Meet Australia’s leading sleep expert, Olivia Arezzolo.

In a special edition of How I Wind Down, we put our burning questions about sleep to the academic on World Sleep Day. Some of the responses might surprise you.

GRAZIA: What are the best things to do before bed to calm an anxiety-ridden mind into sleeping mode?

“I definitely recommend my signature bedtime routine – each step pronounces melatonin production, which is an antithesis to anxiety. Specifically, this is: block out blue light (editors note: try these), diffuse lavender, have a goodnight phone alarm, have a shower, take a magnesium based sleep supplement, meditate or read and have an eye mask. The scientific reasoning is below.

1. Block out blue light, two hours before bed: An academic paper in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found regular room light, from dusk to dawn suppresses melatonin by 71 percent. Less melatonin = you find it harder to fall and stay asleep.

2. Consume lavender – a clinical trial by Medical University of Vienna found lavender capsules improved sleep quality by 45 percent, and reduced anxiety by 59 percent.

3. Goodnight phone alarm, 60 minutes before bed: labelled with the words “SLEEP BETTER” to kick you off your sleep sabotaging tech.

4. Have a shower or bath: the drop in core body temperature as you emerge from a steamy shower into a cooler bathroom is a cue for melatonin synthesis.

5. Have a magnesium based sleep supplement: a clinical trial in academic journal Nutrients found just four weeks of magnesium reduced anxiety by 31 percent.

6. Meditate or read: a recent trial by Stanford University Medical Center found those meditating were able to fall asleep 18 minutes faster – from 39 minutes to 21 minutes.

7. Use an eye mask – protecting you from sleep sabotaging blue light when you sleep.

How do you suggest we shift our body clock from a late 1am bedtime to earlier? What strategies can we implement over time?

“The signature bedtime routine again! The reason we stay up so late is because we are exposed to sleep saboteurs – with the primary being blue light.

“Further to that, reset your circadian rhythm in the morning by waking up with sunrise – this suppresses melatonin in the early morning, reducing fatigue, and ensures the sleepiness hormone is released early that evening too, which facilitates an earlier bedtime.”

Is my period affecting my sleep cycle or is it all in my head? Can I combat this?

“Not in your head at all! Academic research shows up to 33 percent of women experience more sleep disruptions the weeks before and during menstruation.”

“This largely stems back to oestrogen: Research shows fluctuations in 17B-estradiol (circulating oestrogen) increases light sleep (stage 2 NREM), and decreases REM sleep, which usually supports mood stability.

“Second to that, oestrogen helps regulate our core body temperature. As melatonin is only produced when the body has a cool core body temperature, this helps explain why during your period, you may sleep lightly or wake frequently through the night.

“To combat this, having an air con set to a reasonably chilly 18 degrees can help, as can sleeping with undies only – it promotes heat loss.

How can we ensure that when we actually get to sleep, that we stay asleep and have a quality rest?

“If you wake through the night, a fundamental – and often surprising tip – is to get up. This ensures that you keep your bed for bed only, and over time, your bed becomes a cue for sleepiness.”

“If this happens to you, go into the lounge, pop some blue light blocking glasses on and read.”

How do you personally wind down after a busy day?

“I’ll take a walk along the beach – I like to tune out to the world and tune into the ocean sounds. I love to cook something delicious with a glass of wine too. After that, an extra long guided meditation is my go-to!”

Can you describe your nighttime beauty routine?

“It’s luxe, slow and very fulfilling! Starting with a cleansing milk in the shower, a toning mist and a serum, all by Edible Beauty, I complete my skincare ritual with their Sleeping Beauty Purifying (overnight) mask, and by popping my rose quartz crystal mask on for about 10 minutes – which came in their new Sleeping Beauty bundle available via the website. If it sounds decadent, it is, and it’s fantastic.”

When we don’t sleep, how does your complexion change?

“It compromises collagen production – 70 percent of growth hormone, the catalyst for collagen, is synthesised in slow wave sleep. As many ladies would know, less collagen leads to fine lines, wrinkles, saggy, and dull skin.”

How do you decorate your space to assist in falling asleep?

“Having a curated sleep sanctuary is critical to getting your best night’s sleep – without a doubt.

“Removing all tech and keeping your phone on the other side of your room; and placing your favourite books and journal around your bed is one of the key steps. It’s far too easy to have a sneaky scroll last thing before bed and then all of a sudden, it’s hours later. Self-confessed too, I know from personal and professional experience, keeping tech far away is one of the simplest and easiest ways to fall asleep faster.”

What time do you go to sleep?

“I’m a bit of a grandma. I love a 10pm or 10:30pm bedtime. And I have zero qualms about it. I’m getting my beauty sleep, after all.”

Shop our favourite nighttime pieces, below.

Edible Beauty Sleeping Beauty Bundle, now $149. SHOP NOW

Bompies Posey Sleepwear, $199. SHOP NOW

Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid + Peptide Lip Booster, $36. SHOP NOW