How To Develop A Skin Care Regime For Your Skin Type

Lady washing her face in the mirror

Lady washing her face in the mirror
For many of us, a skin care regime is pivotal to our morning and nightly routines. But for others, it’s a task that we don’t put too much time, effort or research into.

Many of us tend to buy one product and use that on an ongoing basis, failing to review what our skin needs at different stages in our life. And in the absence of professional care, an enhanced skin care regime will serve the skin well and your mood too, because healthy skin means a happy individual.

So, to help you achieve glowing skin, we have collaborated with the founder of O Cosmedics, Maria Enna-Cocciolone to develop an easy-to-follow guide on acing your skin care regime.

Your Simple Go-To Skin Care Guide:

Step 1 – Cleanse:

Lady cleansing her face

Cleansing is the first and foremost most important step when it comes to keeping your face healthy. This is because “cleansing ensures you have the perfect canvas for healthy skin and that active ingredients in serums and creams can penetrate the skin and get to work,” Maria explains.

But when it comes to cleansing, choosing the right product for your skin type is important. If you suffer from dry skin a balm or oil cleanser is recommended, whereas if you experience oily skin you may require light acids and or enzymes to deep clean the pores.

If your skin type is normal, a gel or light lotion cleanser will do the job. Once you have the right cleanser for your skin “simply apply the cleanser to your fingertips, apply to the face and neck and work in tiny circles to ensure you are cleansing effectively accumulating makeup, pollutants, dirt, and grime,” Maria details.

Remove the cleanser with a damp skin shammy or face wash. If you’ve worn makeup during the day, make sure you double cleanse and for a super-effective cleanse, use a micellar treatment gel to ensure you leave no residue behind.

If you have thoroughly cleaned it the night before, you can opt for a simply micellar cleanse as part of your morning routine. Maria recommends the O Cosmedics Micellar Treatment Gel for a quick cleanse and anti-pollutant support.

Step 2 – Correct:

Liquid being dropping into a hand

When it comes to correcting your skin, using serums allows you to target specific skin concerns. A serum is a liquid or gel that contains high concentrations of skin actives, which can penetrate deeper than other topical products such as moisturisers.

Serums allow you to target specific concerns due to their high concentration and potency. While most basic serums contain a combination of antioxidants that will brighten the skin, Maria advises as part of an effective skin regime to use vitamin C in the morning and retinol (vitamin A) in the evening.

Step 3 – Hydrate & Protect:

Lady adding cream to her face

Keeping your skin looking radiant and healthy at all times can be a difficult task, but it can all come down to ensuring it is hydrated and protected from chemical products and harsh sunlight. To ensure your skin is being looked after, ensure you hydrate it every morning and evening.

“Choose [a product] that not only hydrates and nourishes your skin but also treats specific skin concerns,” Maria advises. “A great starting point is O Cosmedics Immortal Cream,” which contains super-antioxidants and potent concentrations of V8 Peptide Complex.

This product is also a mega-dose of vitamin C and is commonly used to awaken and hydrate the skin, assist relaxation of muscles and help to reverse and diminish the signs of aging whilst providing a feeling of instant lift. Perfect for assisting line and wrinkle relaxation age prevention super hydration youth and radiance.

Skin Care Regime By Skin Type:

Dry, Dehydrated And Flaky:

Lady with dry skin

When it comes to dry and dehydrated skin, they are too different conditions. Dry skin means you are lacking oil, whereas dehydrated skin lacks water.

To treat dry skin, opt for an oil-based cleanser and treatment, as well as essential fatty acids (topically and orally). Dry skin can also benefit from a hydrating booster; whether it is a hydrating face oil, a twice-weekly replenishing mask, or a serum with hyaluronic acid.

It is also important to keep up your water intake and hydrate your skin from the inside out. When it comes to treating your dehydrated skin, different molecular weights (molecule sizes) of Hyaluronic Acid is recommended for use.

Oily Skin:

Oily skin is caused by an overproduction of excess sebum (oil) and requires active ingredients to rebalance the productivity. When it comes to cleansing your skin, choose products that contain retinol (vitamin A) and Niacinamide (vitamin B3).

Sore And Red:

Young lady with red skin

If you are experiencing sore and red skin, it is commonly an inflammatory response and should be treated with TLC. To help soothe your skin, there are two recommended treatment phases:

  1. Calming and soothing
  2. Healing and strengthening

“It is not recommended to use actives, or exfoliating products should be used whilst the skin is crying for help,” Maria explains.

How Often Should I Be Doing An At-Home Facial?

Man having an at home face mask

Facials can now be done in the comfort of your own home (and for a fraction of the price). To keep your skin looking flawless, at-home facials are recommended once or twice a week.

Too often, and you risk overdoing it, which can leave your skin irritated. “Simply dedicating 30 to 60 minutes a week to a home-facial can make all the difference and ensure the skin is clear, even and radiant,” Maria says.

But according to Maria, “the most important thing to remember is to stay true to a cosmedical skin care and giving yourself some self-love is imperative to healthy skin.” 

Read our blog on Iso Skin: What Is It And How Can It Be Prevented?

DON’T FORGET YOU CAN ALSO LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST WITH MARIA HERE.

Iso Skin: What Is It And How Can It Be Prevented?

Lady suffering from iso skin

Lady suffering from iso skin

This year has been the year many of us are ready to say goodbye to. It has challenged us in new ways we never thought were possible.

For the first time in our lifetime, we found ourselves locked up in our homes with nowhere to go. Shops closed, outdoor time and travel restrictions in place and interactions with the human race was a distant memory.

We were forced to isolate due to the world health pandemic of coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19. Since March 2020, our lives changed forever.

Isolation itself changed many different aspects of our lives. While it has changed the way we work and communicate, it also had a dramatic impact on our mental and physical health.

But other than the fear of catching COVID-19, many of us experienced another health concern. One that left us thinking “what am I doing wrong?”

Take a moment to think about this…have discovered you’ve suffered from skin breakouts but you don’t know why? Well, it’s safe to say, you are NOT alone.

That is why we have gone straight to the experts and uncovered the reasons why you’re suffering from the new diagnosis of ‘iso skin’ and how you can stop it in its tracks. But firstly, what is iso skin?

“Iso skin is a result of COVID-19 and the pressure of living through a pandemic, being forced to stay home, living a more sedentary life and not being able to seek professional skin treatments due to clinic closures,” founder of O Cosmedics, Maria Enna-Cocciolone explained. “It can be an existing condition that flares up or a new one that is triggered by the stress that comes with living in uncertain times.”

3 Reasons Why Your Skin Is Breaking Out:

1. Stress:

Lady looking stressed

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that stress is the number one cause to our skin breakouts. Especially after the year we’ve had, where we have continuously been living in a world of uncertainty.

This is because when we stress, it releases hormones that increase testosterone that leads to oily skin. And when we have oily skin, our pores become blocked, causing us to experience breakouts.

“In one sentence, stress and skin are not friends,” Maria explained. “Stress triggers inflammatory markers, which can result in acne, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, dryness, oil imbalance, rashes, and hives.”

Stress can also affect our ability to digest and release toxins from within our bodies. “Stress can slow down digestion, which affects gut bacteria causing a cascade of bacteria in the body and can even be responsible for hormone stimulation that causes oil imbalance and triggers acne,” Maria added.

2. Diet:

Woman holding a glass of red wine

Spending more time at home has its ups and downs. But one thing that many of us can relate to is our growing relationship with the pantry and fridge – especially when we find ourselves procrastinating over a work task.

And as we continue to spend more time at home, many of us find ourselves snacking more and eating foods that are higher in sugar and carbs. This then impacts our hormone levels and causes breakouts around our mouth region.

But is it not just our diet that has changed, so too has our alcohol consumption. A new study from The Australian National University discovered that 20.2% of people reported that their alcohol consumption increased this year.

The study also found that one-in-four women who drank (22.8 per cent) reported an increase in drinking during May 2020 and one-in-five men (17.9 per cent) reported an increase in the same period. So next time you go to grab that block of chocolate or bottle of wine, maybe think twice about the consequences that may follow – your skin will thank you for it.

3. Masks:

Lady walking while wearing a mask

Many of us are now required to wear a face mask when leaving the house, whether it is at the shopping centres, at the doctors or on public transport. But what you didn’t know is that your mask could also be contributing to your irritated skin.

Introducing mascne. Yes, it is a ‘thing’.

“Mascne [acne mechanicha] is a new word and skin condition, which originates from acne caused by wearing a mask,” Maria explained. “Worn correctly and over extended periods the skin sweats, oil and redundant cells build-up, skin dries out and the imbalances clog pores causing mascne.”

We can minimise breakouts by thoroughly cleansing our face morning and night. “[And] if you choose to wear makeup [under your mask] make sure you choose a product that is clean and does not infuse toxic ingredients into the skin,” Maria said. “O Cosmedics 1Skin (pronounced one skin) Treatment Fusion Foundation is 97% Natural, is skin-friendly, preventing breakout and congestion.”

5 Quick Ways To Beat Iso Skin:

When it comes to beating breakouts, there are several approaches you can take. By making some lifestyle changes and switching up your skin care regime, you can help your skin flourish.

Here are five quick and easy ways you can begin to improve the healthiness of your skin:

1. Drink More Water:

Man drinking a bottle of water

We know; you have probably heard this many times, but it is true what the experts say… By drinking at least eight glasses of water a day it helps keep your body refreshed and provides it with the ability to flush any toxins, ultimately clearing your pores.

2. Eat A Healthy, Balanced Diet:

A salad in a blue bowl

Diet is a big contributor when it comes to achieving glowing skin. For healthy-looking skin, it’s recommended you consume meals that are high in fibre, whole grains and fresh fruit and vegetables, providing your body with nutrients to feed the skin.

It is important to also keep an eye out on foods that are high in salt. While you may be drinking enough water every day, if you are consuming foods that are high in salt, you are interfering with the positive results because these foods are stopping the water from reaching your skin and ultimately removing all the toxins.

3. Take Time Out And Meditate:

Person at the beach meditating

Yes, meditate. We all know breakouts can be caused by stress, so by taking the time out to meditate helps you manage your emotions and ultimately de-stress.

It also assists in adjusting your sleeping matters and reduces cortisol levels. So, use this time to remove yourself from the noise on social media, and the negativity in the world and meditate to relaxing music – do this daily and you will begin to notice a shift mentally and physically.

4. Move Your Body:

Man tying his shoes to go exercise

We know you probably don’t want to believe it, but exercise can improve the appearance of your skin as it helps balance out your hormones. When you exercise, you are delivering oxygen-rich blood to the skin to allow it to restore.

According to Maria, “lack of movement, fresh air and vitamin D can make an individual lazy, compromise circulation, slow down toxin removal and blood oxygenation.” So, make sure you dedicate at least 20 minutes a day to move your body and preferably outside, so you are exposed to natural vitamin D.

5. Feed Your Skin With The Right Products:

Lady fixing her iso skin with a face mask

While diet, movement and meditation contribute to healthy-looking skin, so does establishing a good skin care routine. When it comes to your skin, it is important to use products that keep it balanced, hydrated and nourished.

From picking out the right cleanser for your skin type and the perfect serums and moisturisers; each step of your regime is important to achieving gorgeous looking skin. Read our blog on How To Develop An In-Depth Skin Care Regime here.

But feeding your skin with the right products doesn’t stop at your cleansing products, it also includes the makeup you. According to Maria, choosing clean beauty needs to become your go-to beauty product.

“Look for Natural, Mineral or Organic,” she explained. “If the product isn’t one of those three then chances are everything else is a ‘chemical shit storm’ under the guise of a pretty camouflage,” the skin expert added.

DON’T FORGET YOU CAN ALSO LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST WITH MARIA HERE.

Movement: Essential Ritual #2

Man running in Sydney Harbour

Image of a lady performing some body movement

By Sam Makhoul

This is part of a series of articles relating to the four rituals, five habits and six hacks that systemise your life. Remember don’t rely on motivation alone.

Rely on repetition and automation. Not just in your personal life but also in business. A well-drilled team will always outperform a motivated one.

In our last article, we shared with you the most important daily ritual of all – journaling.  Now we will share with you the second most important ritual you need to do before journaling, without compromise every morning and early evening – movement.

A lot of us make excuses to abandon a ritual. Don’t blame yourself too much. We are hard-wired to crave food and comfort.

Recognise this and let it be your cue to fight the urge for comfort and go for growth instead. Let it be your trigger for tenacity.

All the research shows that delayed gratification is the key to success in all areas of life. You study hard, you graduate.

You work hard, you out-perform the competition and make more money. You save and invest your money, so you can afford to have more freedom later in life.

You put in the effort in your relationships, you have more intimacy and build bonds for life. You exercise, you have better health and energy as you get older.

You stretch, you get more flexible and supple. You eat live unprocessed food, you build healthier cells in your entire body including your eyes and skin.

You learn new things and meet new people, you get a sharper mind as you grow older and bolder.  Rarely does anything good in life come easily. You need to put in the conscious effort but that makes it all the sweeter.

Movement In The AM And PM:

Person performing movement activities

 

Before you perform the first mentioned ritual (journaling), it is absolutely critical to start your day with movement. Anything from a four-minute Tabata routine to a 30-60 minute jog, cycle, swim or whatever gets you puffing and sweating.

Exercise is best in the morning when your cortisol levels are highest; but not too early in the morning. There are a lot of experts who preach early morning exercise (before sunrise) but the science shows that this is not the most optimal time.

The optimal time starts at sunrise and peaks around 7-8 am. Exercise later in the day should be milder as the cortisol curve tapers off for rest and sleep.

What Type Of Moving?

Moving, just like going hungry, is natural. You need to listen to your body every morning and adapt the length and intensity to suit.

But there is never any excuse not to do anything. Even if you are unwell, still muster the effort to do a brisk walk for 15-30 mins – you will always be surprised by how much it lifts your mood and energy.

And the best form of exercise is one that you enjoy. Think competitive sport, dancing and training with friends.

The second best and most natural source of movement is walking, jogging or running. Generally, the shorter the time you have to exercise the higher the intensity should be.

When you don’t have much time, do at the very minimum a 10 minute Tabata routine. But never ever skip moving in the morning.

Why Is Exercise An Important Morning Ritual?

Person running up stairs

We live in a world where people rarely sleep straight through the night. Our mind is racing as soon as we wake.

We can be confrontational and edgy in the morning and our energy crashes and burns around mid-morning and/or mid-afternoon. Exercise neutralises these abnormal afflictions.

Most people think that exercise is for the body. Its biggest impact however is on the mind.

Science tells us that when you are in motion, your mind is on fire! All parts of the brain are active.

This kick-starts your cognitive engine in the morning and keeps you mentally sharp throughout the day; which means you will perform tasks faster and you will get more done in less time. And that means you can spend more time with your partner, family and friends.

Exercise also impacts your emotions in a profound way because it changes your body chemistry. It replaces adrenalin and cortisol (fight or flight) with dopamine and serotonin (inspiration and calm).

These are the neurotransmitters you should be running on all day and it all starts with morning exercise. Exercise also kickstarts your metabolism and stimulates your lymphatic system (for immunity).

Especially when you exercise in the sunshine without wearing sunglasses. Exercising in morning sunshine also promotes a deeper and longer sleep that same night.

In fact, exercise in conjunction with sunshine and sleep has been proven to be more potent than Prozac as an antidepressant. Sleep is the ultimate superpower for your overall health.

Why Is It Important To Exercise Before The Three Other Daily Rituals?

If you try to journal on waking without first moving you will have trouble calming the mind. Your mind is no match for adrenalin and cortisol.

You will be edgy. You cannot sit still let alone think straight.

We are wired to hunt and gather on waking, so we need to respect this natural rhythm and get moving. We need to also respect this cycle by eating low carb meals in the morning (if anything at all), moderate amounts of carbs during the day.

Think substantial salads and higher amounts of carbs as the last meal of the day. Think, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, broccoli; not pasta, pizza and bread.

Carb cycling in this way promotes healthy cortisol levels. After you move in the morning, you will find your body gets calmer and your mind clearer and these two qualities are the perfect prerequisites for journaling and the other morning rituals.

But can some exercise be doing you more harm than good? Find out by clicking here.

Want to read the rest of this series? You can find them here:

How To Get The Best Sleep- Part 2

By Sam Makhoul

The Definitive Guide To Sleeping Longer And Deeper:

In part one of this article on sleep, I outlined the latest stunning research which shows that sleep is more important than any other health protocol and impacts not just the body but cognitive performance and emotional wellbeing in a profound way. If you have not read part one, you can here: Is Sleep the Fountain of Youth?

In an age where artificial intelligence and technology is taking over jobs, it is very clear that creativity, imagination, strategic thinking and the ability to connect with others will be the most prized qualities for any person on the planet. Sleep is your superpower in promoting all of these qualities.

In part two of this series, I will outline the scientifically proven factors that impact good quality sleep, as they relate to the four elements:

  1. Duration
  2. Depth
  3. Continuity
  4. Regularity

Dysfunction in any one of these elements will compromise sleep. Knowing this will help you fix the cause. Later I will list some tips that induce sleep, but without fixing the root cause, those tips are useless.

It is very important to note at the outset that sleep is an innate quality. It will happen automatically with the protocols I am about to share.

So, this article will focus on returning you to your natural rhythm, where you will find sleep to be effortless. I know this from experience because I used to find sleep difficult and a waste of time because I had so much to do.

Today my respect for sleep has been deepened by the fact that sleep has transformed my performance in all eight areas of my life.

Depth:

Lady in a deep sleep

Depth is the most important element because, you will recall from part one of this series, that regeneration and repair of body and mind happen when you go into a long-wave deep sleep. Depth activates the mechanism of autophagy and production of human growth hormones.

The former helps you live longer, and the latter helps you look younger. The depth of your sleep is impacted dramatically by the following four factors:

1.    Not Enough Sunlight During The Day – Especially Morning Light: 

Exposure to natural light during the day is critical for the production of melatonin. This neurotransmitter gets produced naturally by the pineal gland.

Melatonin has two main functions. By day, it plays an active role in energy production by your mitochondria because it is a powerful antioxidant.

Secondly, it promotes deep sleep at night. The best way to get more melatonin naturally is to eat out in the sunlight and get as much sun on your skin and eyes, especially in the first hour of the morning.

I recommend you only wear sunglasses when absolutely necessary. I also recommend the ancient practice of sun-gazing. This is beautifully covered in the book Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health by Mark Bunn.

2.    Too Much Artificial Light At Night – Especially From Screens And Monitors:

Research shows that we now spend 93% of our time inside surrounded by artificial light. We eat in front of TVs.

We work in front of computers. We play games on screens. We browse social media on phones. This is wrecking us.

It is disrupting natural processes that heal and regenerate us. It is disturbing critical neuro pathways.

Exposure to artificial blue and white light at night is suppressing the release of melatonin and therefore the depth of your sleep. It also impacts the duration of sleep – see below.

Here are some tips:

  • Replace your LED’s with low lux lighting which can reduce blue/white light by up to 80%.
  • Put dimmers on all your lights.
  • Light candles instead.
  • Eliminate screen time at least one hour before bed. Ideally three hours or as soon as the sun goes down. If you absolutely have to get on your devices for something urgent, then I suggest you use the Apps Flux or IRIS. Both Apps reduce blue and white light considerably, but I prefer IRIS because it also eliminates flicker on your laptop screen. This flicker has been shown to cause a stress response.

3.    Body Temperature:

Getting overheated at night stops you from getting into longwave delta deep sleep levels three and four. You need to ensure that your room temperature is between 17-19 degrees Celsius.

The best way to achieve this is to put your bedrooms on different temperature settings than the rest of the house. Secondly do not over-dress for bed or have thick bed covers. Thirdly, roll away from your partner after the initial cuddle at night.

4.     EMF Interference: 

Electromagnetic pollution from cordless phones, Wi-Fi routers, Bluetooth devices and all devices not in aeroplane mode will all impact your depth of sleep because these frequencies activate your sympathetic nervous system and stop you from going into long wave delta sleep. No ifs or buts, EMF is very bad for your sleep.

How Do You Know If You Are Going Into Deep Sleep?

You can measure whether you are going into a deep sleep through the use of biometric devices such as the Oura Ring. But I strongly suggest you put it in aeroplane mode, especially at night, and only sync it with the App when you are not wearing it.

Duration:

Clock ticking

Duration is important because we all need five, 90-minute sleep cycles every night. This adds up to 7.5 hours.

Every cycle serves a unique biological purpose. Duration is mainly impacted when you cannot get to sleep at the optimal time.

You end up going to bed late and reducing the duration of your sleep. It is imperative for your circadian rhythm and thyroid function to wake on or soon after sunrise.

So, sleeping in to make up the time only makes matters worse. (Your optimal time for sleeping and waking according to your chrono-type is discussed below under continuity). 

Here are the factors that impact your ability to get to sleep. Staying asleep is covered under continuity below.

1. Artificial light at night suppresses the release of melatonin so it also affects duration. In fact, for every 60 minutes of artificial light, you get after sundown, you suppress the release of melatonin by 30 minutes. This effectively delays the time for you to start feeling sleepy and ready for bed. You need to get Amish and eliminate all technology at night.

2. Not enough movement during the day makes you feel flat and stagnant. The body needs to get tired during the day for better sleep at night. Movement is also critical to neutralising the effects of work or life stress. 

TIP: If you cannot play a sport or have the time to work out, try minimum effective dose exercise throughout the day. Do Tabata three, four minutes a day and go for a quick walk before lunch and dinner.

3. Stress boosts cortisol and adrenalin to keep you in a state of fight or flight. This will lead to high blood pressure and a rapid heartbeat, which prevent you from getting to sleep. And even if you do get to sleep it will affect your continuity because chances are you will wake up around 3 am-4 am with your heart beating out of your chest.

Stress also raises your body temperature which we discussed keeps you from going into a deep sleep. The best way to neutralise stress is to slow down during the day and perform your tasks at a normal pace. Research shows that it is not the amount of work we do but the speed in which do the work that is the main cause of stress. So slow down. Read the tips by Carl Honore in his book, In Praise of Slow.

4. Too Many Thoughts. Sometimes it is not stress that keeps you up but thoughts that go around and around in your head of things to do for the next day. Getting things down in your diary gets it out of your head. The five to 10 minutes it takes to do this will save you precious hours of lost sleep. 

5. Feelings are bothering you. You will find it difficult to get to sleep if feelings bubbling under the surface are not acknowledged and processed. To heal you need to feel. We all experience rejections, failures, hurts, and disappointments. The best way to process them is to journal your feelings, using the Higher Branch techniques as espoused by our faculty member, Dr Guy Winch in his book, Emotional First Aid.

6. Eating too late and too much can stop you from getting to sleep and consequently reduce your duration. Especially foods that are high in fat. It is best to avoid food within three hours of going to bed.

7. Caffeine Consumption in the 12 hours before bedtime. Caffeine overrides the sleep-inducing effects of melatonin and keeps you awake for longer. Some people can go to sleep after drinking coffee but the research shows unequivocally that the caffeine stops them from going into a deep sleep. Therefore, they never get the benefits of autophagy and HGH.

The Best Tips To Induce Sleep And Improve Duration:

  • Have a bath, steam or sauna one hour before bed. This helps your body temperature to drop which prepares you for sleep.
  • Sleeping meditation.
  • Listening to comedy.
  • Use an acupressure mat. I use the Shakti Mat. It is incredibly effective.
  • Socialising by talking or playing board games or cards. 
  • Essential oils of lavender for stress or rose geranium for anxiety.
  • Exercise during the day, especially in the morning.
  • Do the four, seven, eight breathing technique. Breath in for four seconds, hold for seven and exhale for eight. Do this at least five times before you go to sleep. Do this during the next technique.
  • Ground yourself. Standing barefoot on green grass drains all the positive ions from your system and replaces them with the earth negative ions. The latter is healing and calming. It engages the parasympathetic nervous system.

Continuity:

Coffee cup in bed

It is natural to wake in the last sleep cycle of the night around the six-hour mark. But if you are waking earlier in the first four sleep cycles, then you have a continuity problem.

Some of the factors outlined in the section above on duration will sometimes affect continuity. For example, if your stress is high then cortisol will surge at night and wake you.

Thoughts and feelings that were bothering you during the day will creep in.  But what is it that makes you wake up, to begin with, and interrupt your continuity in the first six hours?

Typically they are:

  1. Drinking too many fluids before bed.
  2. Eating too much before bed.
  3. Consuming more than one drink of alcohol within three hours before bed.
  4. Falling asleep in front of the TV. 

If you do wake at night, the best thing to do is roll over and keep sleeping. Do not get up and out of bed to drink or go to the toilet, unless you indulge in the list of four things just mentioned.

What about sleeping tablets to help you sleep and stay asleep? Research shows that sleeping tablets grossly interfere with your REM sleep, which is critical for resetting your short-term memory.

This will make you foggy during the day and make you ineffective in performing your tasks, especially tasks requiring client connection and creativity.

Regularity:

Sleeping according to your chronotype can improve regularity, especially during travel and work commitments. If you are a night person and you try to go to bed before 10:30 pm, you will lay awake in bed thinking you have insomnia.

If you are a morning person and go to bed too late, you will get over-tired and have trouble sleeping. According to the research, morning people should go to bed around 9:30 pm and wake at 5:30 am.

Night owls should go to bed around 11 pm and wake at 7 pm. If you are an in-betweener, then anytime between 9:30 pm and 11 pm for sleeping and 5:30 am and 7 am for waking.

In all cases, however, it is imperative for all chronotypes to get plenty of sunlight within the hour after waking. If there is a factor that influences sleep and overall energy levels the most, it would be to practice light hygiene.

Direct sunlight during the day will boost your energy, and the elimination of artificial light at night will induce sleep. They both improve your gut health profoundly, where the majority of melatonin is produced during the daylight hours.

Just think of it this way: good bacteria prefer sunshine. Bad bacteria thrive in darkness. I wish you light and the softness of sleep.

Is Sleep The Fountain Of Youth? – Part 1

Lady sleeping in bed

Lady sleeping in bed with brown sheets

By Sam Makhoul

I really dislike this cliché “this will change your life,” but in this case, sleep will literally do so. What happens to us during sleep is truly remarkable.

It is the ultimate detox for the mind and body. It is a reset button. A reboot.

In fact, if there was a magic elixir or superfood that could help you live not just a longer life but a beautiful one, make you look young, boost your brain power, boost your performance, improve your relationship, make you fun and attractive to friends and family, energetic, enthusiastic. 

Humans are wired to value scarcity. So, we go in search of elusive superfoods or medicinal herbs that grow in unique parts of the world.

But we ignore the most potent health protocol that is available to us for free every night. Sleep!

This article is not just about giving the usual list of tips for sleeping better. That is secondary and found all over the internet. 

I write this article with my lawyer hat on to convince you intellectually of the importance of sleep. Only then will you start to respect sleep.

In my experience of coaching myself and clients, the behavioural change will never happen unless you have complete clarity of why you are doing something. So, I will be sharing the science of sleep and how it impacts every part of your life.

When you really understand what goes on at a cellular level, this will have a profound emotional impact on you. It will then motivate you to take sleep more seriously and make the lifestyle changes I will be recommending later.

Straight up, I am not a sleep expert. But I research and retain information really well and I have studied this area for many years and read multiple papers and books by pioneering scientists, especially in the last two years, where there have been huge advancements.

I have also tested the protocols personally and documented the impact it has had on my own health and performance. I do this with the help of my Oura Ring, which gives me all the data I need to track the results of every sleep protocol I implement.

As an entrepreneur, I often say that “data provides the clarity for business strategy”. That is no different in your personal life. 

This is perhaps the most important article you will read from me this year. It is a little long, but I make no apologies for that.

I respect you too much to give you a cursory summary of what I think is the most important element to your wellbeing that impacts not only your physical but also your mental and emotional health.

Sleep Basics

Sleep happens in cycles typically of 90 minutes duration. So, over an optimal eight hours sleep you will get five cycles.

During this 90 minutes cycle you go into four levels of sleep.  Level’s three and four being the deepest sleep where your brain goes into long delta waves.

Towards the end of the 90 minutes cycle you go back up to REM sleep (they call it Rapid Eye Movement because that is when you do your dreaming). As the night progresses and you go from cycle to cycle you have less delta sleep and more REM sleep, which is why you tend to dream more in the morning hours.

Imagine it like going up and down a ladder five times per night. You will notice from the diagram below that most of your deep sleep happens early in the evening.

Typically this peaks during the second cycle. And this is when you go into a state of autophagy (promotes longevity) and experience a surge of human growth hormones (promotes youth).

Diagram of the sleep stages

There are four layers to your health:

  1. Physical
  2. Intellectual
  3. Emotional
  4. Spiritual.

In this article we will discuss how sleep impacts the first three energies.

The  depth duration continuity regularity is what defines high-quality sleep. And it is the combination of all four elements that increases your ability to activate autophagy’and HGH.

Research shows that dysfunction in any one of these four factors negatively alters sleep and accelerates ageing and disease. Depth is how deep your sleep is.

Duration is the length of sleep. Continuity is how long you sleep without waking (especially important in the first four cycles).

Regularity is how often you experience quality sleep. Every day? Five times per week?

How Does Sleep Impact Your Physical?

Long wave deep sleep is critical for activating a mechanism called autophagy. The mechanism was recently discovered in 2016 by Nobel prize winner, Yoshinori Ohsumi.

It is a scientific term meaning your body goes into self-cleaning mode. It leads to the regeneration and repair of all your cells throughout the body via the lymphatic system and the brain, via the glymphatic pathway while you sleep.

Simply put, it destroys the old, damaged, and malfunctioning components of your cells – and rebuilds new and healthier ones. It’s like an overnight spring clean to replace old cells.

So, autophagy is your body’s unique way of naturally rejuvenating and defending itself from disease. Lack of good quality and quantity of sleep will cause a dysfunction with the mechanism of autophagy.

The mind in particular will experience an abnormal build-up of B-Amyloid plaque on the very part of the brain which facilitates sleep – the pre-frontal cortex. Over time, this leads to even more sleep dysfunction, which clogs up the brain even more, accelerates cognitive ageing and contributes to the development of early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s. (Reference: Dr. David Rubinsztein, professor of molecular neurogenetics at the University of Cambridge).

When it comes to the body, poor quality sleep predictably leads to a multitude of physical ailments like:

  • Auto-immune diseases from increased inflammation
  • Poor thyroid function
  • Increased insulin/glucose resistance (pre-diabetes)
  • Shortening of your telomeres (these keep you young)
  • Skin ageing
  • Eyesight dysfunction
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • And a dramatic increase in the risk of cancer.

In relation to cancer, studies also show that shorter duration of sleep has been found to reduce the number of natural killer T cells by up to 30%. T cells are what fight cancer cells.

Over time, chronic sleep deprivation of under six hours per night dramatically increases the risk of cancer, especially coupled with the lack of exposure to daylight and lack of vitamin D. Interestingly, the research also shows that poor quality sleep tends to increase the amount of food you eat.

It increases ghrelin cells, which lead to an exaggerated hunger response.  High quality sleep on the other hand increases leptin cells.

These cells inhibit hunger and regulate energy balance, so the body does not trigger a hunger response when it does not need energy. Additionally, poor quality sleep increases your cravings for the wrong foods.

This is because the lack of sleep impact your gut health. Poor sleep leads to an overgrowth of bad bacteria that crave the wrong type of foods, typically, high in sugar, fat and salt.

In fact, science is now showing that good quality sleep from a healthy circadian rhythm is more important than pre-biotics and pro-biotics in the regulation of good gut health. If this is not bad enough, research shows that people who get six or fewer hours of sleep per night are four times as likely to get ill after being exposed to the flu virus.

But wait, there is more. Poor quality sleep reduces testosterone levels, which is critical for your libido (and relationship), fat metabolism, muscle strength and bone density.

Still, need more evidence of the importance of sleep? Let’s move to the impact on your mental and emotional health.

How Does Sleep Impact Your Intellectual?

Lady waking up in bed

Poor quality sleep (especially influencing depth and duration) impacts your cognitive and work performance in a profound way. As we enter this age of automation and artificial intelligence, the key skills of creativity, imagination and strategising will become super important to your success.

Sleep impacts all of these three key skills in a profound way. In a recent study performed by the team at Berkeley University led by Professor Matthew Walker, they stunningly found that even one night’s sleep deprivation impacted cognitive performance by 40%.

This is a huge impact. They found that you need sleep to prime the brain before learning and processing new information and you need sleep; after learning to retain or store that same information you learned.

So, sleep before, stores information in the short-term memory (the hippocampus part of the brain) and deep sleep after allows you to transfer that same information into your long-term memory (the cortex). This allows you to reset your short-term memory for use the next day.

Meaning, if you do not get enough deep sleep, your short-term memory does not reset efficiently and therefore impairs your ability to learn and process new information the next day, because that part of the brain has a limited storage capacity (approx. 16 hours). Think of it like a USB stick.

Therefore, a good sleep of depth and duration will have the benefit of clearing your short-term memory reservoir for use the next day.

How Does Sleep Impact Your Emotional?

There is a strong correlation between high EQ and personal performance. Poor quality and quantity sleep impact your emotional stability.

It increases activity in the emotional part of the brain (the amygdala), which becomes 60% more reactive due to the dampening down of your rational brain (the pre-frontal cortex). This is an immediate trigger for anxiety which in turn negatively impacts your ability to sleep.

This leads to a vicious cycle of sleeping less and experiencing higher anxiety. Dr Walker’s research lab shows that this negative loop eventually leads to social isolation because people who are sleep deprived show a strong tendency to distance themselves from social interaction.

Moreover, it showed that the issue was compounded because they were in turn shunned by others; which caused more social isolation and inevitably depression. This is what the R U OK movement is essentially trying to avoid.

Depression causes your hippocampus to shrink, which then impacts your short-term memory. Earlier, I outlined these were critical for your creativity and strategic thinking, and therefore your performance at work and in business.

Poor sleep also amplifies the stress response in a unique way. Your tolerance level drops, your irritability rises, and you are quick to anger.

Hardly good qualities for optimal work performance. In fact, the negative emotions of anger, fear, anxiety and depression (even general unhappiness) will drain your physical energy and this dramatically reduces your effectiveness in all areas of life.

The Definitive Guide To Sleeping Longer And Deeper:

In part two of this article (read it here), I discuss the four elements to good quality sleep. They are duration, depth, continuity and regularity.

I list the major factors that negatively impact these four elements. Knowing this will help you fix the root cause of poor sleep.

And when you do this, you will find that sleep becomes as innate and natural as breathing and drinking water. More specifically I outline the following:

  • Depth: The two major lifestyle changes that will increase the depth of your sleep and activate autophagy and trigger high. These protocols will work almost immediately.
  • Duration: The two major causes of a reduction in the duration of your sleep. And how to prevent them with two simple techniques. I also share with you seven techniques that will induce sleepiness so you can get to sleep on time every night.
  • Continuity: The three major reasons why you are having interrupted sleep and how to sleep through the three sleep cycles of the night where you are most prone to waking. Refer to the diagram above.
  • Regularity: How sleeping according to your chronotype can increase regularity, especially during travel and work commitments. I share the exact best time to sleep and wake according to your chronotype.

The Power of Laughter

Three people running

Three people running

By Sam Makhoul

Firstly, I need to clarify what a life-hack is. It is a lifestyle protocol that will boost your energy, help you sleep better, boost your immune system and ultimately make you live longer.

Why is laughter a life-hack that is in my top six? Just like a bodybuilder will focus on compounding exercises such as squats, the six life-hacks, including this one on laughter, all have a compounding effect on your health. 

In other words, the impact is far-reaching inside the body. Let me explain why laughter is so important to your health by explaining its impact on your physical, mental and emotional health.

Physically:

  • Decreases the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin
  • Lowers blood pressure because it boosts nitric oxide and dilates the inner lining of blood vessels. It even increases HDL.
  • Increases the circulation of antibodies that boosts resistance to infections
  • 60 seconds of hearty laughter relieves tension in your muscles for up to 45 minutes. That makes it more potent than Valium without the side-effects
  • It relieves depression

Thoughts (Mind):

  • Laughter (or even ‘humour’ without having to laugh out loud) boosts dopamine to the brain and thus increases the sense of pleasure and reward.
  • It changes brain wave activity towards what’s called a “gamma frequency” and this amps up memory and recall. 

Ultimately the combination of mind and body benefits lead your mood to greener pastures. You have peace of mind and sleep better at night.

Suddenly everything seems manageable, even pain or loss or failure. You smile more.

You have an air of self-confidence and you start attracting good things and good people into your life, including customers. Most importantly it will improve your relationships with family, friends and your partner.

I coached one client who said that until he learned how to laugh, his kids found him too serious and scary. When he learned to let go and laugh more he was getting more hugs at home.

In fact, research shows that people who are fun, witty and smile often are voted as more attractive. Not bad for a life-hack aye? Which is why it comes in at number four in our series.

How To Increase Laughter In Your Daily Life:

  • Surround yourself with people who feel like sunshine – in other words, who make you laugh and are easy going. Physically, we do feel warmer from laughter.
  • Listen to or watch, comedy – preferably at a live comedy show. One of my nightly rituals is to listen to comedy every night before I go to sleep.
  • Read our article Yes But Are You Having Fun? There are many spiritual teachers who believe that our highest purpose in life is to play, have fun and spread happiness.

Read more from this series:

Life Hack #1: Grounding & Sun Gazing

Life-Hack #2: Eating Properly And Maximising Nutritional Absorption

Life-Hack #3: Oil Pulling & Your Amazing Saliva

Life Hack #5: Your Sixth Sense

Life-Hack #6: Let There Be Breath

Why You Need To Think About Oil Pulling And Saliva

Two people hugging

Two people hugging

By Sam Makhoul

Poor oral health has been strongly linked to heart disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s. In addition, certain diseases such as diabetes can lower the body’s resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.

But that’s only part of the story. What most people don’t realise is that oral health is not just about protecting your teeth and gums, it is about protecting an important immune function performed by your saliva.

I know this topic might be a little gross but it is important, which is why it made the top 6 life hacks in our 4-5-6 system for daily living.

I will share a simple preventative technique that will impact your health in a profound way, make you more attractive and boost your resistance to disease. It is an ultimate preventative superweapon. And it is quick, easy and cheap.

But first…Science.

Saliva is also one of your body’s main defences against bacteria and viruses. It contains antibodies that attack viral pathogens, such as the common cold and even HIV.

It also contains proteins called histatins, which inhibit the growth of candida. When these proteins are weakened by poor oral health and some illnesses, candida can grow out of control.

Saliva is also good for your sex life because research shows that healthy saliva has testosterone in it, which explains why kissing has been shown to be the ultimate aphrodisiac. It stands to reason that if you have poor oral health, you will reduce your libido and be less attractive, not just on the sensory level (bad breath) but on the hormonal level.

Inflammation, Heart Disease & Alzheimer’s:

Oral inflammation due to bacteria (gingivitis) plays a role in clogged arteries and blood clots. Bacteria in the mouth may cause inflammation throughout the body, including the arteries of the heart and brain.

It enters the bloodstream through bleeding gums. This inflammation causes the development of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries, increasing your risk of a heart attack, stroke and the build-up of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain, which leads to dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Most people are taught the three main protocols to good oral hygiene.

1. Avoid sugar
2. Floss your teeth at night
3. Brush teeth morning and night

But there is a fourth protocol, which is super effective at preventing the inflammatory response of poor mouth hygiene. It will protect your heart and your brain, which seem to be the most susceptible to inflammation.

Oil Pulling:

This protocol has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine well before we had toothpaste and toothbrushes. The following is what you should do morning just before you perform the four-morning rituals shared in previous articles.

  • Brush teeth and tongue in the usual way
  • Use a tablespoon of coconut oil and sesame oil
  • Put one drop of essential oils clove and oregano or thyme
  • Swish the oil in your mouth for 5-20 mins. I perform this during my morning jog. It is time-efficient and also forces me to breath through my nose which is much healthier than mouth breathing.
  • Do not swallow because the oil extracts all the bacteria and other toxins from in-between gums and teeth.
  • Spit out thoroughly, preferably in the garden. If you cannot do the garden then do not use coconut oil because it will harden in your drainage pipes. Just use sesame oil.

For a definitive guide on this protocol, please read this article by our faculty member and health researcher, Mark Bunn: Oil Pulling the Ayurvedic Way.

Last Word:

I am surprised at how many people I come across are obsessed with diet and exercise but give very little attention to oral hygiene, eye and hearing health. These three senses are so important to overall health and wellbeing.

Read more from this series:

Life Hack #1: Grounding & Sun Gazing

Life-Hack #2: Eating Properly And Maximising Nutritional Absorption

Life Hack #4: The Power Of Laughter

Life Hack #5: Your Sixth Sense

Life-Hack #6: Let There Be Breath

Why Eating Properly Is Important For Your Body

How to eat properly

By Sam Makhoul

Today we focus on the life hack for healthy eating. First, we want to point out that eating healthy can be unhealthy.

We are not against healthy eating, but we are against an obsession with diets and labels. Your emotional wellbeing is much more important to your overall health than what you eat.

Yes, food is medicine at the cellular physical level but sunshine, sleep, socialising and fulfilment is a much more potent medicine on the emotional level. Furthermore, the focus on what to eat is a one-dimensional view of healthy eating.

Eating is a process that starts with what food you buy, how you store, how you cook, when you eat, how much you eat and your mental state when you eat. The process can break down anywhere along this value chain.

The process is only complete when you absorb what you eat.

The Three Essential Tests:

We live in an age where bio-metric testing is accessible. Don’t second guess what is healthy for your own unique cells.

Get tested. Avocado is not healthy for everyone.

Nor is kombucha or coffee or eggs or goji berries or whatever is the latest craze. Conversely, eating gluten or dairy or meat is not bad for everyone either.

So, please don’t buy into fad diets and health evangelists. By getting tested you will find out what foods should be avoided for your genetic type.

You can do three tests to start with. Blood test, hair mineral analysis and the gut microbiome.

See a qualified health practitioner. And yes, some doctors are now also doing these tests – it is not only for naturopaths.

The following 14 eating rules provide the real answer to eating properly. They reflect the fact that our nutritional requirements change in a 24-hour cycle and in an annual cycle of spring, summer, autumn, winter.

So, being paleo, keto or vegan is not really an accurate label to put on yourself. You need to live in tune with the natural cycles of the earth.

This seasonal living is the single most important principle for healthy living. The seasons affect us at a physical and emotional level.

We feel different in winter compared to summer. We want stillness and crave more comfort foods in winter; soups v’s salads.

Summer is about relaxing in the sun. Autumn is about reviewing, reflection and tacking stock of our lives.

Spring is about growth. The more we mirror nature and adapt to these cycles, the healthier we will be.

When To Eat, How Much To Eat And How To Eat:

Lady delivery two plates of healthy food

1. Eat More Protein In Winter:

We are generally less active in winter and so we need to eat fewer carbs. Eating more protein curbs your appetite for carbs.

2. Eat More Carbs In Summer:

Nature produces fruits higher in sugar carbs in summer for a reason. We are more active in summer and therefore need more glucose for fuel.

3. Eat Fruits And Vegetables In Season:

Even meats and fish are seasonal.  Our body needs different nutrients at different times of the year depending on the changing season, especially spring and autumn. Respect that. For example, it’s not always healthy to eat blueberries year-round! Your body needs to create its own antioxidants sometimes and different antioxidants from other sources. Reliance from one source like blueberries can make your cells lazy.  Example two: Some seasons require citrus to ward off colds and flu.

4. Eat In A Window Of 8-12 Hours Preferably During Daylight Hours.

You need to abstain from food the other 12-16 hours. Be careful from fasting for periods longer than this without the guidance of a health practitioner because fasting can boost adrenalin and stress you out. And stress is much more harmful than not detoxing.

5. Don’t Snack Between Meals:

Allow yourself to go hungry before eating your next meal or snack. Going hungry means your body has processed the last meal. How long it takes depends on your activity level. The more active you are the quicker you will go hungry. Don’t reach for snacks simply because they are there.

6. Exercise Or Move Before Your Meals:

Exercise expands the glucose in your cells so they are ready to take in more glucose. If your cells are overloaded with glucose, they will store the excess as fat. In fact, I would rate this as the number one rule.

7. Eat Out In Sunlight Or Nature:

The sun on your skin and eyes produces leptin cells and these are important in regulating how much you eat. They are the on/off button for your hunger.

8. Don’t Eat Heavy Meals After The Sun Goes Down:

If you cannot sleep because you are hungry, then eat very light low-fat foods like papaya or berries.

9.  Eat More Of Your Carbs As The Last Meal Of The Day:

But… only if you have a stressful day and feel like you have been running on adrenalin all day. Make it clean, slow-burning carbs from vegetables such as sweet potato, pumpkin and broccoli. Whilst eating more carbs at night may not be great for your waistline, it is better for your mental health because carbs will help you sleep. You should always trade sleep for any other fitness goal.

10. Do Not Overeat:

There is a tipping point where the fuel you get from eating is cancelled out by the energy you burn in digesting your food. Overeating also taxes your organs and temporarily surges cholesterol and lipid proteins. Most arteriolosclerosis occurs after a big heavy fatty meal, especially at night.

11. You Are Not What You Eat But Rather What You Digest:

Eating in a relaxed state will help you absorb more nutrients. If you are stressed, all food becomes toxic in your body.

12. Relax Before You Eat:

Exercise will generally put you in a relaxed state but if you are stressed you need to also meditate before you eat to switch on your ‘rest and digest’ parasympathetic nervous system.

13. Don’t Have Intense Discussions When You Eat:

Don’t watch TV or scroll devices while you eat. You are disrupting the connection between your sense of sight, smell, sound, touch and taste. The brain sends a signal to your body to release the right enzymatic spectrum to digest the food you are eating. When you are not engaged with your food, you will not digest your food efficiently.

14. Rest After Eating:

The process of eating has not finished until the nutrients have been absorbed, so it is important that you stay relaxed and rest after a meal. That is when most of your absorption occurs.

Read more from this series:

Life Hack #1: Grounding & Sun Gazing

Life-Hack #3: Oil Pulling & Your Amazing Saliva

Life Hack #4: The Power Of Laughter

Life Hack #5: Your Sixth Sense

Life-Hack #6: Let There Be Breath

Can You Eat Junk Food And Still Be Healthy?

Deep fried foods and lollies laid out on a mat

Deep fried foods and lollies laid out on a mat

By Sam Makhoul

The answer is YES. But we’d like to pose an even bolder question.

Can you eat junk food, smoke and drink alcohol and still be healthier than someone who eats healthy? The answer again is yes.

You hear stories of people in France who live over 100 and yet they smoke and drink alcohol. How is that possible?

The answer is very simple and seems to be lost on a lot of people who oscillate from one fad diet to the next. What most people don’t realise is that there are more important elements to your wellbeing than what you eat.

Food feeds the physical part of you. But your thoughts and feelings are much more powerful than that.

So ask yourself the following more important questions:

  • How much do you eat?
  • How late do you eat?
  • Are you relaxed when you eat?
  • What do you do before or after you eat?
  • Do you play sport?
  • Do you go for walks in the bush or near the ocean?
  • Do you get lots of sunlight?
  • How much deep restorative sleep do you get?
  • Do you socialise and have fun with friends and family daily?
  • What is the state of your love life and relationship?
  • Are you feeling fulfilled at work?
  • Are you waking up every morning with a purpose?

You can eat healthily and still not be a “well” being. Conversely, you can eat unhealthily and be full of life force and incredible performance.

So the secret to a successful, long, rich life is to live a holistic one is where you not only eat healthy but also live healthy. And this is through your eight tress of eight – or as we describe at A Higher Branch, The Power Of Eight.

To learn more about The Power Of Eight and how to live a holistic life, read here.