It’s no secret sleep is essential for our overall health and wellness. After all, it’s during sleep our brain processes memories, our muscles repair their tissue and growth hormones are released. But did you know sleep actually impacts your skin health?
It’s true. The famed myth of “getting your beauty sleep” actually has validity too it. According to Dr. Elma Baron, Professor of Dermatology at Case Western Reserve University, there is a direct link between sleep deprivation and skin aging. This begs the question, how is our sleep and nightly skin care routine impacting our overall skin health.
To answer this question, we must first look at the primary function of our skin.
How the Skin Works
Our skin’s primary role is to act as a barrier that protects our bodies from harmful toxins. In layman’s terms, it’s responsibility is to keep the bad things out and the good things in. One of the things you want your skin to retain is moisture. When moisture rapidly evaporates through the skin it leads to dry skin, which causes itching, irritation, and in some cases, eczema.
What does this have to do with sleep?
Glad you asked.
Lack of sleep results in a decrease of skin barrier function. All this means is that poor sleepers, those who get less than seven hours a night, fail to retain moisture as well as good sleepers. Turns out, this accelerates skin aging. Yikes.
Here’s another kicker:
Inadequate sleep slows healing from sun damage. In an interview with Fox News, Dr. Baron pointed out that “the problem with lingering sun damage is it increases the likelihood of skin cancer and aging.”
This isn’t surprising, knowing that sleep is the body’s time to rest and repair. Like other systems in the body, the skin is also an organ that has to rejuvenate, repair and replenish, and that takes place during sleep.
So yes, there is truth behind the phenomenon of getting your beauty sleep. However, there are some myths out there too.
Myth #1 – Dark Under Eye Circles Are 100% a Result of Sleep Loss
At some time in your life you have probably heard the bags under your eyes you fight to cover with concealer every morning are a direct result of lack of sleep. Although that is not an unreasonable assumption to make, there is no scientific data to back that claim. Most likely, under-eye circles are a result of a combination of things, such as allergies, genetics and possibly lack of sleep.
Myth #2 – Better Sleep Results in Less Breakouts
Talk about wishful thinking! If there was one less breakout for every hour of sleep logged, we’d be sleeping 24/7.
While it would be nice to say getting more sleep would drastically improve the amount of breakouts we see, there are many other factors play a role in skin quality – such as genetics, skincare routine and diet. Sleep is only a piece of overall skin health.
3 Practical Steps to Improving Your Skin Health
Although there is no playbook for waking up flawless, there are some things you can do to get one step closer to healthier skin:
- Log more hours of sleep
Although sleep won’t solve all your skin problems, it plays a big role in skin repair and restoration. If you aren’t getting adequate sleep at night, take a look at your sleeping environment. Is your mattress ten years too old? Maybe it’s time for an upgrade. Perhaps you are drinking caffeine too late in the day. Assess your sleep hygiene. If you struggle from lack of sleep regularly, you may want to talk to your primary care physician about potential solutions.
- Avoid sleeping in makeup
We have all had those nights where we passed out cold before washing our face, and that is okay! Just don’t make it a habit. At the end of the day, remove your makeup from your skin to avoid clogged pores and breakouts. A rule of thumb for cosmetics is to avoid unnecessary contact when possible.
- Use a moisturizing cleanser before bed
Cleansing is important for everyone, even those who don’t wear makeup. Our skin encounters many external elements throughout the day (think dirt, pollution, weather and then some). We cleanse for basic hygiene.
Moisturizing cleansers are often recommended because they cleanse without drying your skin out or stripping your skin of the lipids you need. This type of cleanser tends to be more gentle.
We should do our best to protect the organ whose primary job is to protect us! For some of us, that starts in bed.