From someone who couldn’t sleep at night due to itching eczema, I know for a fact that sleep is often the first thing to be sacrificed when we have this itchy problem.
But did you know that your gut and eczema actually heals while you sleep? If you or your young one is suffering from eczema, it is so important that you are able to reach the levels of eczema-healing sleep!
To help you do that, here we’ll look at 3 practical ways to achieve that particular healing sleep (that you can do tonight!), which will not only help you “sleep like a baby” but will also assist the healing of your skin!
But before we get into all that sleepy business, let’s address an important question:
“Why do I need to sleep?”
I remember always dreading whenever my mother would tell me and my siblings to get to bed and go to sleep. When I asked why I needed to sleep she told me that my body needed sleep to grow strong and tall. — which as it turns out, is actually true!
Deep sleep activates the production of the growth hormone (GH), which is why young children are recommended to get more sleep at night, as the production of the growth hormone greatly impacts their growing stage.
However, as we get older, the necessity of sleep doesn’t become less. As adults, we need sleep to grow other things too, and I’m not just talking about height.
Sleep activates organ and immune system repair.
If you talk to any wellness and sleep expert, they will most likely tell you that the ideal time for your body to regrow, repair, recharge, and replenish nutrients is during deep sleep. This is because it’s the only time of the day that you’re not moving, allowing your body time to finally repair itself.
Sicknesses and diseases are often fought off by our immune system during deep stages of sleep. The deeper the sleep, the more our body is able to fully take time off from being awake. Deep sleep allows your body enough time to replenish nutrients, heal body disorders and fix internal issues.
This is why you’re always recommended to get sleep and bed rest when sick, and not to overdo in physical activity.
When you sleep, you create the the most ideal time for your body to heal, as our muscles, cells, bones, organs, and even our immune system and gut, morph, heal, and grow during sleep, more than any other time of the day.
Your gut, eczema and skin heal when you sleep.
Now sleep works hand in hand with gut health, eczema and skin repair, because as I mentioned, your body’s immune system and other organs heal while you sleep.
Skin is your body’s largest organ, and during deep sleep your skin renews itself, growing new skin cells to replace older cells. Your gut and immune system also heals itself during sleep, which is extremely important in order to clear your eczema.
Of course, a healthy diet is necessary in order for your body to have the nutrients to build new skin cells, but sleep is when everything goes on and happens.
Think of the food as the building blocks, and sleep as the construction time. You have your necessary building blocks (healthy foods), but you also need the construction time (sleep) in order to make progress.
Healing your gut and eczema is a matter of balancing both a healthy diet as well as proper sleep. After all, you can’t expect to build a house without materials or time!
Quality of sleep vs quantity.
A question that often comes up about sleep, is how much sleep we should really be getting?
You might have noticed that I’ve been using the term “deep sleep” throughout this article, rather than giving an exact time. This is because the research on sleep shows that the “sleep benefits” linked to organ, immune system, and eczema skin repair have been based on subjects in stages of deep sleep.
What defines “deep sleep?”
Deep sleep refers to the time of the night that you’re basically “sleeping like a baby”. Some signs are that your body feels lifeless, your jaw has dropped, you’re not moving or restless, and sometimes you’re not dreaming.
It is only during this ideal deep sleep that your body is able to recharge your batteries, your kidneys are able to clean up your blood, your organs can detoxicate, old cells are replaced with new cells, and open wounds (including eczema) also heal during this time.
Now, it can take anywhere from 2-4 hours to get to this IDEAL deep stage of sleep, which is why it’s usually recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep a night in order to give themselves enough time to get to that deep stage.
However what’s interesting is that it’s been shown that actually only 25% of the time you sleep is the ideal deep sleep stage! The rest of that time is spent doing other things, like dreaming, moving around at night, or being restless and disturbed.
This level of deep sleep matters way more than the hours of sleep you actually get. For example, even if you sleep the recommended 9 hours, if you’re constantly waking up in the middle of the night, or disturbed by sounds or light, your body isn’t completely resting, and you won’t be at the ideal healing stage of sleep.
So how can we grow or maximize this 25%, in order to give our body more time to heal our immune system and eczema?
3 ways to achieve deep eczema-healing sleep!
There are several things that can disturb and keep you from reaching the deep stages of sleep, but today let’s focus on the 3 that affect us more than anything else, and look at ways to practically avoid them. These 3 things also affect the sleep of children, so if your young one has issues with eczema and isn’t getting enough sleep, follow the steps below to help them improve!
The 3 things that affect us most from achieving deep stages of healing sleep are light, diet, and inadequate melatonin.
Human beings are actually made to sleep in total darkness after the sun sets, and it’s only in the past 100 years or so since Edison invented the light bulb, that we’ve been able to manipulate light to shine after dark.
However, this is still fairly recent technology, and as such our bodies are have not yet adapted. As humans, we are still naturally used to sleeping in complete darkness and rising with the light.
The first step to achieving deep healing slumber, is to avoid light and sleep in absolute darkness. Light can especially affect the sleep of young infants and babies, who have just spent 9 months in a pitch-dark womb!
For better sleep, I recommended using a black out curtain, as it will shroud your entire body in darkness, allowing you to sleep undisturbed.
Now, if you’re thinking of using an eye mask, it’s not the same thing. It won’t work as efficiently for one simple reason: the epidermis of your skin has receptors that pick up light signals around you. These basically act like your second eyes.
When these receptors pick up light, they send a message to your brain telling you to ‘wake up!’, and this signal will disturb your overall sleep. Even if your eyes are covered, you will still find yourself waking up restlessly if your skin receptors pick up light signals.
This is why some people (including myself), sleep much better with a sheet or cover. When our body is covered we’re putting it in darkness, and it doesn’t get disturbed with light–it’s kind of like an eye mask for your body.
Sleeping with a black out curtain, or covering your body so that its in total darkness will tell your body, “hey, it’s time to sleep!” and can actually help you to fall asleep faster, maximizing the deep healing stage.
If you’ve ever got the night sweats after a pizza night, then you know where I’m going with this. Diet is extremely important for sleep because if you eat an excess of unhealthy foods throughout the day, your body is going to be uncomfortable and restless during the night.
Before I healed my gut, I used to have problems sleeping at night whenever I ate inflammatory foods, especially gluten.
As inflammatory foods cause irritation in your gut and immune system, they can disturb your digestive system, making you suffer at night. Also, not only do inflammatory foods inflame your gut, affecting your sleep, but they usually don’t bring any nutritional value for your body to use as building blocks.
Remember, when you reach the deep stages of sleep, it starts to be construction time! That means we need to give our body nutritional foods to use in order to repair our skin or health problems.
Stay away from inflammatory foods at night, in order to avoid disturbing your body during sleep. Also, make sure you’re eating nutrition dense dinners, in order to give your body more building blocks to work with.
3. Inadequate melatonin
Melatonin is a sleeping hormone, that is often referred to as the ‘Dracula of hormones’, since it only comes out at night. This natural hormone is made by your body’s pineal gland, located just above the center of your brain. When the sun goes down, the pineal gland is activated and begins to actively produce melatonin, which is then released into your blood.
As the melatonin levels in your blood rise, you’ll start to feel less alert and sleep becomes more inviting. Usually these melatonin levels in the blood stay elevated for about 12 hours, and start to lessen when the sun comes up, around 9am.
Without sleepy melatonin, it’s almost impossible to get to that deep sleep stage. If you have inadequate melatonin in your blood levels at night, you won’t be able to sleep deeply at night. We want more melatonin!
One thing that reduces melatonin production is the sunlight. Interestingly, the pineal gland that activates during the night, won’t produce melatonin unless the person is in a dimly lit environment. This is another reason to sleep in complete darkness to reach the deep stage of sleep.
On the topic of light, you should know that modern technology also inhibits the production of melatonin. The artificial blue light that comes from your TV screen, laptop, or cellphone, tricks your brain into thinking that it’s daytime, which ultimately inhibits the melatonin production.
This becomes a big problem, because by the time you actually want to go to sleep, you don’t have enough melatonin in your blood stream to make you sleepy!
One way to increase melatonin is to have an “light curfew”. This means that a couple of hours before going to sleep, you get off your electronics and put them somewhere else that won’t bother you at night, as well as dim the lights so your body can start producing enough melatonin to make you sleepy.
I hope this post helped you learn more about the critical importance of sleep, and why eczema and your gut needs sleep in order to heal.
As most of us don’t have the luxury of sleeping 8 or 9 hours a night, hopefully by following these 3 practical steps you can start to reach the deep stages of healing sleep and maximize the time you DO have!
Do you have any tips on how to sleep better at night? Did these tips help? If you have any questions on eczema and sleep, leave me a reply below!
PS: Don't know where to start? Sign up to my free series The Clear Skin Plan !
What can i do if i scratch in my sleep? I can fall asleep easily but often find myself waking up with scratch marks that definitely weren’t there the night before… is there some way to prevent this?
Hi there, great question! I’ve published an article on how to stop eczema itching. Check it out here: stop itching eczema naturally. Feel free to check it out, I think it can really help you!
Emily Porter says
Wow! Thanks a lot for these great tips! They are really helpful and your article is really informative, I really learned a lot! 🙂
I have one question though. I am really wondering about the root cause of eczema, is it natural (especially in newborns) or is it caused by unclean environment? Thank you for your time!
It can be both — eczema can be hereditary, but also as children’s immune system’s are not yet fully developed, they are more susceptible to allergies from outside elements. That’s why a lot of young children develop eczema, asthma, allergies to pollen, etc.
These tips are consistent with other articles I’ve read about improving sleep, and with my functional medicine doctor’s advice. Thanks! If you can’t do the electronic screen curfew a couple hours before bed (maybe a deadline the next day!), another thing that can help is to where blue-light blocking glasses when you use screens at in the evening. This can also help with ambient light.
Hi! Glad you enjoyed the article about sleep and eczema, thanks for sharing the tip about light blocking glasses.