Why a good sleep is so important?
1. Regular sleep hours mean a younger-looking you
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
2. Skin renews and repairs best during sleep
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.
3. Sleep helps you eat the right food for skin health
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.
4. Sleep nourished skin is rated more attractive
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.
Why have a different skincare routine at night?
1. Professionals recommend it
‘The skin barrier is more permeable at night which means products are absorbed better’, says dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto. ‘And the skin is being treated in the absence of external stressors’ adds Professor Birch-Machin at a point when it is in peak repair mode’.
2. Different products can be used at night
Some products, like retinol, cannot be used in high concentrations during the day because they react with light and may cause irritation. For example, SkinCeuticals’ range of retinol products range from 0.3% - 1% and should only be used as part of an evening skincare routine. Night products can be formulated differently, with a wider range of actives and concentrations possible once sunscreens can be excluded (sunscreens often restrict what else can be used).
3. Think of the practicalities
- No competition from make up
- It doesn’t matter what you look like, no-one’s going to see
- You’re less likely to rub anything off
Your night time routine
STEP ONE: Double Cleanse
‘The first essential for everyone is to cleanse’ says Dr Mahto. ‘During the day your skin accumulates a layer of dirt and microbes on top of your make up which will clog pores if not removed’. She recommends double cleansing, first with a micellar water and then with a mild foaming cleanser. ‘If this irritates, stop’. A cleanser containing a mild exfoliant is also an option here. ‘Exfoliants should be used at this step once a week if you have dryer skin or twice with normal skin’.
Here's our suggested night time regime for those wanting better tone and glow:
STEP TWO: Apply Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight
‘Using glycolic acid boosts collagen and cell turnover and is ideally applied at night’ says Anjali Mahto. Glycolic acid strength should be in the 4 – 10% range with the higher percentages more appropriate for nighttime use. You might need to start this slowly and always wear an SPF during the day.
STEP THREE: Apply moisturiser only if necessary
’Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight comes in a cream, so I would suggest that moisturiser isn’t necessary afterwards unless the skin feels red, sore, tight or scaly’ says Dr Mahto. She also recommends waiting 20 minutes before application.
STEP FOUR: Apply your favourite eye cream
Here's our suggested night time regime for those more concerned by ageing:
STEP ONE: Double Cleanse, as before
STEP TWO: Correct with Retinol 0.3
Dry the skin and apply Retinol 0.3. Again, start once a week and build up. Dr Mahto says ‘I would suggest in older skin in the initial phases, whilst tolerance is being built up to retinol, to use the retinol and the night antioxidant Resveratrol BE on alternate nights. However, when retinol is tolerated on a daily basis then it is possible to moisturise 20 minutes later (or use the Resveratrol BE at this stage instead if prefer.)’ You must always wear sun protection during the day whilst using retinol products.
STEP THREE: Moisturise
It might seem counterintuitive but your skin loses water faster at night than during the day. ‘With trans epidermal water loss (TEWL) highest at night, it makes sense to moisturise as part of your routine, particularly if your skin is prone to dryness’ says Dr Mahto.
STEP FOUR: Finish with your favourite Eye Cream
A.G.E. Eye Complex is a favourite for mature skin.
Now turn off the light and go to sleep!
This article is intended as general information only. You should seek advice from a professional before starting any new regimen or course of conduct.
1Clin Exp Dermatol. 2015 Jan;40(1):17-22. doi: 10.1111/ced.12455. Epub 2014 Sep 30. Does poor sleep quality affect skin ageing? Oyetakin-White P1, Suggs A, Koo B, Matsui MS, Yarosh D, Cooper KD, Baron ED.2Sleep. 2013 Sep 1;36(9):1355-60. doi: 10.5665/sleep.2964. Cues of fatigue: effects of sleep deprivation on facial appearance, Sundelin T1, Lekander M, Kecklund G, Van Someren EJ, Olsson A, Axelsson J.