Why a good sleep is so important?
- Regular sleep hours mean a younger-looking you
- Skin renews and repairs best during sleep
- Sleep helps you eat the right food for skin health
- Sleep nourished skin is rated more attractive
Sleep is critically important for good health, resetting our brains and our bodies, particularly the immune system, heart, circulatory system and the skin. And poor sleep is strongly associated with both lacklustre skin and visible signs of premature ageing.
In research carried out in Cleveland Ohio, published in 2015 in the journal, Clinical Experimental Dermatology, the skin of 60 women who had chronic sleep problems was compared to those with an ideal sleep duration of 7 - 9 hours a night. Good sleepers not only had significantly lower skin ageing scores but better recovery after exposure to UV light and a 30% greater barrier recovery.1
Our internal 24 hour body clocks are controlled by light and regulate sleep and much more. Skin cells have their own clocks, scheduling DNA repairs for the late afternoon and evening (after our peak UV exposure times). Night time is reserved for increased cell proliferation when this delicate process can proceed without interruption. But Mark Birch-Machin, Professor of Molecular Dermatology at the University of Newcastle, who is currently researching molecular markers of skin damage, sleep and appearance, thinks that these repair schedules may not be the full story. For instance, hormone levels alter with sleep.
Whilst experts agree the ideal quantity of sleep is between 7 - 9 hours for an adult - no one is yet sure whether quality of sleep (for instance, the amount of deep sleep versus dream sleep) is as important for the skin as it undoubtedly is for the brain. It's worth noting that skin cell turnover time ranges from 2 weeks in a baby to more than 2 months in a woman of 50 plus. This is partly thought to be due to differing amounts of sleep.
Sleep has an important role in regulating appetite through alterations in hormone levels. If we’re sleep deprived, we’re driven to eat more and worse, to prefer sugar rich foods – yes, we’re talking about the munchies. Sugars from diet bind to skin proteins producing new molecules called glycation end products which damage collagen making it less elastic. Glycation also alters water balance, making the skin grey and increasing dark circles.
We very quickly notice if our friends are tired. Fascinating 2013 Swedish research, published in the journal Sleep, showed that individuals could indeed detect signs of fatigue very accurately even from photos of faces shown for only a few seconds2. Sleep and health are so closely linked that there was a survival benefit in being able to spot those who might be ill, that should be avoided. Skin appearance is the key facial cue in this and even in our modern age, facial skin cues of fatigue continue to strongly influence our judgements of health and attractiveness.
Therefore, in summary, the research and the biology are clear. Sleep helps to lower the skin age with better recovery after exposure to UV light and it allows tired skin to repair through increased cell proliferation. It is also important in regulating appetite and internally affects our hormone levels which also have an overall effect on our skin. And outwardly, a lack of sleep can project an image of ourselves as being less healthy. So, in the future, when you wake up and look in the mirror and think about nourishing and protecting your skin, make a note-to-self to remember to build in a good nights’ sleep into your skin care routine, your whole body will thank you for it. Sweet dreams…
This article is intended as general information only. You should seek advice from a professional before starting any new regimen or course of conduct.