The Link Between Poor Sleep and Bad Skin

Young tired woman at office desk sleeping with eyes closed, sleep deprivation and stressful life concept

In our busy lives, the importance of sleep on our physical and mental wellbeing is often forgotten. Yet what if we told you that sleep can actually make you look better, too?! Sleep plays a significant role in your skin’s health, and can affect how healthy and old it looks.

We’re all guilty of doing it – neglecting our 8 recommended hours of shut-eye a night in favour of completing work, cramming for exams, or looking after newborns. According to the United States Centre for Disease Control (CDC), around 33% of American adults are not getting enough sleep. It’s obviously a health concern – but what you might not realise, is that sleep deprivation can cause huge problems for your skin. So, rather than spending your hard-earned dollars on expensive anti-aging creams and serums, you might want to consider making the time to get enough of that one thing we’re all lacking – sleep!

How Poor Sleep Affects Our Skin

  1. Lack of sleep increases cortisol. There is a reason it’s called ‘beauty sleep’, after all – a lack of sleep increases cortisol, leading to inflammation and puffy skin. That’s why your face feels so swollen when you’ve only caught a few hours of shut-eye. 
  2. Cortisol also increases collagen production – and collagen is crucial to giving our skin elasticity. Collagen is a protein that gives our skin the ability to bounce back and retain its firmness. When it is depleted, our skin begins to sag. This happens naturally as we age, but constantly skipping sleep can speed up the process.
  3. When we sleep, our bodies repair themselves. Human Growth Hormone (HGH) increases as we sleep, helping to rebuild and repair cellular tissue. It takes 28 days to regenerate cells in the body (on average) and it peaks every night at 2am! If you are constantly awake late, and not getting 8 hours sleep a night, the cells in your body have trouble regenerating. New cells will always look plumper, smoother and healthier than old, tired cells!
  4. Lack of sleep decreases the moisture content of your skin. When your skin is dehydrated, it will look duller, greyer, and older! 
  5. It decreases the PH content of your skin, causing your skin to look uneven and in some cases, red and blotchy.
  6. Dark circles and bags under the eyes. Nothing screams ‘sleep deprived’ like those dark circles! This is because lack of sleep causes blood vessels to dilate, leading to blue and purple shadows under your eyes – not a good look! Bags under your eyes are similarly caused by lack of sleep, as inflammation causes the skin under your eyes to become puffy and then sag. This usually happens if you sleep on your front, as liquid can pool in your eyes throughout the night.
  7. If you already suffer from breakouts or acne, lack of sleep will just make this worse. Skin conditions need rest and time to heal, and not getting enough winks gives your skin no time to regenerate.
  8. Your skin looks stressed, has wrinkles, or otherwise looks older than it actually is – our skin reflects our internal health. When you skip on sleep, you deprive your body of much needed nourishment and regeneration time. Your body removes up to 60% more of toxins when you get enough sleep – denying your body the ability to remove and replace dead blood and brain cells shows!

What Can We Do About It?

Rather than piling on the skincare creams and anti-aging serums, consider that nothing actually beats a good night of sleep. Bad sleep wrecks havoc on your skin in surprising ways that can’t be remedied by products! 

Take the time to take care of yourself, and make room for 8 hours of sleep a night.

If falling asleep early is a problem, take a warm bath, use aromatherapy oils, or practice meditation before bed. Reduce distractions in the bedroom like TVs, computers and phones, and make your bedroom a quiet and dark environment.

Doctors also recommend exercising in the early evening (not right before bed!) as this leaves you tired enough to sleep later, and is relaxing. 

Try to get out in natural light as much as possible and set regular sleep and wake times. This helps to regulate your body clock and sets a sleep cycle, allowing your body and skin to get the rest it needs!

Michael Dehoyos
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Michael Dehoyos

Michael Dehoyos, a health blogger at PhD Kingdom and Academic Brits. He also helps companies develop marketing strategies and improve their websites. You can also find Michael's articles at Coursework Help

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