Can a lack of sleep affect your skin?
Sleep is imperative for practically every function in your body so yes, sleep deprivation can have a huge impact on your skin in a number of different ways, especially if you are already suffering from a condition like acne or eczema.
The health of your skin is dependent upon a number of factors – your production of certain hormones, your ability to break down toxins and your immunity. Depending on how much sleep you get at night, all of these areas can be affected, resulting in skin that’s more prone to dark circles, premature ageing, blemishes and breakouts.
This can be a real problem, especially when you consider that 50% of the UK population on average gets only 6 hours of sleep a night.1 These figures are even more when worrying when you consider that this number has risen since 2010, with 33% of Britons now surviving on just 5-6 hours sleep a night.2
Whether it’s the rise of technology or the added pressures now placed upon on us by our work or family commitments, there’s no denying that poor sleep is definitely causing poor skin.
So how does sleep benefit our skin?
Okay, so sleep deprivation is bad news for our skin but how exactly does getting a good night of sleep help? Well first I think it’s important to evaluate how sleep can affect your body and how this in turn can have positive repercussions for your skin.
Sleep to detox
The chances are that some of you have tried a detox before. If you have, you were probably advised to get plenty of restful sleep and this is for a good reason. While you sleep, your brain is able to detoxify the body 10 times faster than while you’re awake!3
Not to mention that while you sleep, you experience an increased blood flow to your skin, giving your microcirculation a boost. This means that more nutrients are able to flow to where they are needed and more toxins can be removed and conveyed to the liver.
So you can imagine what happens if you don’t get enough sleep and this process is interrupted. Your skin won’t be able to get rid of impurities as efficiently and will struggle to receive the nutrients it needs.
You also have to consider that your skin is an organ of elimination. This means that if your liver is struggling to get rid of toxins, they can be expelled through your skin! This can cause you to develop dull skin and experience multiple breakouts, especially if you suffer from eczema and the epidermal layer of your skin is already vulnerable to impurities.
Sleep to get rid of wrinkles
Premature ageing is a major consequence of not getting enough sleep and a lot of that has to do with collagen, a structural protein which is often produced while you sleep. Sleep deprivation can restrict this process but it can also impact your hormones, especially your levels of cortisol.
This is a big deal as cortisol, otherwise known as the ‘stress hormone’ can have a huge impact on your skin. It exists in a delicate balance with melatonin, the sleep hormone, but if this balance is interrupted, you can experience a spike in your cortisol levels.
High levels of cortisol can suppress DHEA, the ‘youth hormone’ causing premature ageing. In fact it was estimated that sleep deprivation may double signs of ageing, as well as making it harder to recover from oxidative stress.4
Cortisol can also play a role in the development of acne. If you suffer from acne, you may have noticed that you experience more breakouts – this is because high cortisol levels can force your sebaceous glands to produce more oil.5
Sleep to prevent bacterial infections
I’ve already spoken about cortisol and sleep deprivation, but it’s important to elaborate about their effect on your immune system. Sleep is important for allowing your immune system to do its job properly and allows your digestive organs to rest.
Good sleep will ensure that your white blood cells are patrolling properly to ward off any nasty viral infections. And, since 70% of your immune cells are located in your gut, this can have a positive impact on your digestive health too!
However, if your adrenal glands become exhausted from producing too much cortisol, your immune system can become sluggish. When this happens, you can become more vulnerable to infections such as the cold or flu, but it also makes your skin more susceptible to the bacteria trying to permeate it. This is really bad news if your skin is already weakened due to a condition like eczema.
You also have to consider the effect that sleep deprivation can have on your digestion too. Your gut relies on a balance of friendly and unfriendly bacteria. If the unfriendly bacteria start to overpopulate, it can make you more vulnerable to candida yeast and you won’t be able to break down foods as effectively, leading to digestive issues such as bloating and constipation.
How you can sleep for beautiful skin?
I’ve told you how sleep can benefit your skin but how do you go about getting beauty sleep? Well first you need assess just how much sleep you are getting. If you aren’t getting an adequate amount of sleep each night, it’s important to think about why.
1 - Get rid of the gadgets
If, like most of us, you sleep with an iPhone next to your bed this could be the first culprit. As tempting as it is to watch videos in bed on your tablet or to send one last post before bedtime, these devices can impede your body’s production of melatonin, causing you to feel more awake at night. It might sound impossible, but I would ban all devices from the bedroom an hour before bed. Instead, try to focus on relaxing activities, such as reading a book or soaking in a nice hot bath.
2 - Cleanse and Moisturise
Whatever you do, don’t go to bed with your make-up still on. Not only is it unpleasant to wake up with yesterday’s foundation smeared over your face, most make-up will clog your pores overnight, leading to more irritating pimples in the morning. Instead, allow your skin to breath and use a natural cleanser to get rid of stubborn mascara and eyeliner.
You could also try hydrating your skin with an organic moisturiser. Organic products tend to have fewer suspicious chemicals that may upset sensitive skin, or you could try a natural alternative like coconut oil. Moisturising your skin helps to keep it in tip-top condition, looking fresh and dewy for the next day.
3 - Hydrate
Some of you might be put off drinking gallons of water before bedtime – after all, if the aim is to get a good night’s sleep, waking up at 3am with a full bladder isn’t such an attractive option. Providing you’ve been drinking plenty of water during the day, I wouldn’t necessarily advocate downing a glass before getting in to bed.
Instead, try to drink a glass of water an hour before bedtime and take a glass to bed with you to sip on. Drinking plenty of water can help your body to flush out toxins and it can help to keep your skin hydrated throughout the night.
4 - Think about your diet
If you’ve been scoffing on crisps and drinking coffee all day, the chances are that you won’t achieve a good night of sleep. Refined sugars and caffeine will only trigger your central nervous system, keeping you awake during the night as well as inflaming your skin. Not to mention stodgy, processed foods are more difficult to digest, which can interrupt your sleep pattern.
Instead, you do need to focus on healthier alternatives. Nuts such as almonds and walnuts are a good option – not only do they help to keep you fuelled during the day, they also tend to be rich in magnesium, a mineral that can help to support sleep.
Cherry juice is another nice option as tart cherries can help to boost your levels of melatonin! Not to mention, cherries are a good source of vitamin C, which can help to maintain your production of collagen.
5 - Consider your position
Believe it or not, how you sleep can affect your skin. Sleep wrinkles are a phenomenon caused by pushing your skin against a pillow, gradually damaging your skin over time. This normally occurs if you sleep on your stomach – a notorious sleep position that can affect everything from your digestion to your circulation!
Instead, train yourself to sleep on your back, or at least your side, to avoid continuously rubbing your face against your pillow.
6 - Try Dormeasan
Finally, if you are worried by your irregular sleep patterns, you could try Dormeasan, our natural herbal sleep remedy. Unlike conventional sleep medicines, Dormeasan has no drowsy side-effects and instead focuses on gently restoring a natural sleep pattern.
Prepared using organic extracts of Valerian and Hops, 30 drops half an hour before bed should ensure that you fall asleep easily and awaken refreshed in the morning.