Sleep: Why it’s Important for Healthy Skin
Have you ever been tempted to cancel plans because you need your beauty sleep? Well, it turns out that beauty sleep is a real thing! Not only is the amount of sleep you get essential for skin health, but the quality is vital, too. Our bodies and our skin regenerate and heal while we sleep. If you’re not getting enough quality sleep, you are compromising your skin’s ability to carry out essential functions.
How Lack of Sleep Impacts Your Skin
Sleep deprivation causes stress on the entire body, including your skin. When you don’t get enough quality sleep, the cortisol (stress hormone) levels in your body increase, which triggers inflammation. If you suffer from acne, psoriasis, eczema, or other inflammation-related skin issues, getting proper sleep is crucial.
This added stress on the body is also damaging to your skin’s collagen. Since collagen is responsible for skin’s structure and elasticity, your skin may develop fine lines and wrinkles as the collagen breaks down. Other signs of collagen breakdown include thinner skin and lack of firmness.
Your skin also perspires more while you asleep. Perspiration is necessary because it releases toxins from the skin. It also hydrates the skin, which helps to prevent fine lines and wrinkles. If you are not getting enough sleep, your blood doesn’t flow as efficiently as it usually would, which results in a lack of oxygen in your blood. Poor oxygenation can cause the skin on your face and body to appear blotchy or ashy.
How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?
We’ve all been told that we should get at least eight hours of sleep each night, but is it really necessary? Yes! Your body and skin perform essential functions during each phase of sleep, and if you don’t sleep long enough, you’re missing out on some crucial benefits.
During the first three hours after you fall asleep, your body starts producing an essential hormone, called human growth hormone, in the pituitary gland. Among other things, this hormone is responsible for maintaining radiant and youthful skin. This hormone is used by the skin to repair everyday damage, which slows the aging process.
During the next two hours, the body increases its production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your circadian rhythm, or sleep/wake pattern. Melatonin also works as an antioxidant in the body to protect the skin from free radicals that cause premature aging.
And lastly, during those crucial final three hours of sleep, your body engages in REM sleep. This is when cortisol (the stress hormone) levels begin to decrease. The temperature of your skin drops during this period, allowing your muscles to relax and your skin to heal and regenerate.
How Do You Know if You’re Getting Quality Sleep?
Quality of sleep is just as important as quantity. If you find that you lay awake for a long time before you fall asleep, you wake up more than once during the night, or you lay awake for more than 20 minutes when you wake up, you are not getting quality sleep. Try turning off your TV and other electronic devices at least half an hour before you go to bed. These devices emit blue light that can make it difficult for some people to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Having good sleep habits is just as crucial for your skin health as your skincare routine and diet. Consider establishing a bedtime routine to make sure you get at least eight hours of sleep each night. You might just be surprised by the difference it makes in your skin.
About the Author
Olivia Hsu Friedman, LAc, Dipl.OM, MSOM, RCMDerm, is the owner of Amethyst Holistic Skin Solutions and treats eczema patients throughout the US in person and via video conferencing using only herbal medicine. Outside of the office, Olivia serves as the Vice President of the Illinois Society of Acupuncturists and is also one of two Illinois delegates to the American Society of Acupuncturists.