You can almost immediately tell when someone hasn’t gotten enough sleep. It usually shows in their face and skin. You may notice hanging or puffy eyelids, darker under eye circles, dryness, dullness, a gray undertone, or reduced glow.
This isn’t a coincidence. Poor sleep has been shown in multiple studies to be linked to poor skin health, faster-aging skin, and an increased risk of certain skin conditions.
We do so much to help our skin look great. While sleep may not be the first thing you think of when you think of skincare and skin health, it should be way up there. Sleep can have a significant effect on the health and appearance of your skin. That doesn’t mean you should give up on your skincare routine entirely; just make sure you’re including adequate rest into the mix.
How Sleep Affects Skin Health
Sleep deprivation can impact almost every aspect of a person’s physical and mental health. This includes the health of your skin. Consistently getting a poor night of sleep can lead to a wide range of skin issues from wrinkles and sagging skin to dark circles and paleness.
Getting enough sleep can help with a variety of skin issues including dry skin. The skin’s barrier doesn’t properly function when you’re deprived of sleep. This has been shown in multiple studies including one in the Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications. They found that sleep deprivation impaired the skin’s barrier which led to an increased level of transepidermal water loss and a loss of skin hydration. This loss of hydration or dry skin can lead to a flare of other issues including eczema and rosacea.
Dull/Off Tone Skin
Lack of sleep can cause dullness directly, and it can also worsen existing dullness or make it more apparent. Based on the study in The Journal of Clinical Medicine, less sleep can exacerbate any dullness in the skin on the face. Additionally, the same study found that sleep deprivation can also increase sallowness of facial skin.
Dark Under Eye Circles
Sleep deprivation contributes to the complex list of factors that create dark under eye circles, and makes them appear more prominent. According to the Mayo Clinic, fatigue can be one cause of dark under eye circles and fatigue can be exacerbated from lack of sleep, leading to more pronounced dark under eye circles that are often associated with staying up all night. To help reduce your fatigue and in turn, reduce the appearance of dark under eye circles, try to consistently get a good night’s sleep.
Collagen and Aging
When you don’t get enough sleep, the “stress/stay awake” hormone cortisol stays elevated in your body instead of dropping in the evening and with that persistent elevation, night time repair is blocked and inflammation becomes chronic. According to the Journal of Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, stress can have a major impact on collagen production and its integrity. Stress negatively affects your skin’s collagen through a glucocorticoid (steroid)-mediated process.
As the integrity and quality of collagen is affected, your skin can lose structure, juiciness, and elasticity which can ultimately lead to skin that is no longer firm, glowing, or smooth.
According to The Journal of Physiology and experts in dermato-endocrinology, growth hormone also plays a part in collagen production, which affects the skin’s appearance. Growth hormone is a crucial peptide hormone that stimulates growth, cell reproduction, and cell regeneration. It also stimulates collagen production. It should come as no surprise that the production of growth hormone is also connected to sleep according to The Journal of Clinical Investigation. When you don’t get a good night’s rest, growth hormone is less able to stimulate collagen production which increases the likelihood of forming lines and wrinkles.
Stress and Oiliness
The increase in cortisol from a lack of sleep can also affect the oil in your skin. When cortisol levels increase and stay elevated, cortisol receptors in the skin are excessively activated. According to a study in Sleep Medicine, cortisol triggers the skin to produce more sebum or oil which can lead to inflammation, rosacea, and acne, and other inflammatory breakouts. Finally, if you already have a skin condition of any type and don’t get proper sleep, it can make the issue worse.
According to one study in Royal Society Open Science, sleep deprivation can negatively affect your facial appearance and affect how much others want to socialize with you. Other studies involving rating the attractiveness of photos after a good night’s sleep vs. a poor night’s sleep suggest that “beauty sleep” is more than just mom’s mythology.
Skin’s Protective Barrier
According to the peer-reviewed journal, Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, a lack of sleep or poor sleep quality not only increased signs of aging, but also diminishes the function of the skin barrier and makes it more vulnerable to external factors like the sun, pollution, microbes, and weather (think windburn or extreme cold).
Tips For Better Sleep
Getting more and better sleep is sometimes easier said than done. But there are a few tips and tricks you can use to get better sleep and improve your skin’s health and appearance at the same time.
Keep a Regular Sleep Schedule
Waking up and going to bed at consistent times each day, including the weekends, ensures your sleep schedule is not disrupted. Your body will also start to recognize when it’s time to go to sleep.
Create a Quality Sleep Environment
A good sleep environment is quiet, dark, and kept at a cool temperature. Accessories that reduce noise and light distractions, like earplugs or blackout curtains, can help make your space more comfortable for sleep.
Frequent exercise offers many health benefits, including making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Exercising at least a few hours before going to sleep is recommended so your heart rate is not elevated before bedtime.
A quiet nighttime routine can help the body relax and prepare for sleep. Consider calming activities such as taking a bath or reading. Stay away from anything with flashing lights or a lot of noise.
Put Away Electronics
In the hour before bedtime, avoid devices like cell phones, TVs, computers, and other electronics. Exposure to blue light before bedtime can make it much more difficult to fall asleep.
Avoid Lying Awake in Bed
If you cannot fall asleep after 20 minutes of lying in bed, move to another room and do a calming, quiet activity until you feel tired. Then, go back to bed and see if you can fall asleep.
Schedule A Consultation
Scheduling a consultation with a board-certified physician dermatologist is a great way to ensure your skin’s health is on par with your new sleep schedule. At Art of Dermatology located at the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York, Dr. Krant can help you build a lifestyle routine and skincare regimen to ensure your skin is at its best.
To book a consultation, call our New York City office at (212)-488-5599 or new patients can use our online form.
Jessica Krant, M.D., MPH, is a board-certified dermatologist with specialized experience in cosmetic, laser, surgical, and medical dermatology, but above all, Dr. Krant is most proud to be a caring, comprehensive physician who takes the time to listen and send her patients home with a smile.