There’s an old Irish proverb that says:
“A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.”
I think most of us can agree on the truth behind those words, but it’s the sleep part that seems to be more and more of a forgotten cure. Despite being generally familiar with the immense benefits of getting enough quality shuteye each night, many of us are not getting the sleep that we need. This one biological act affects virtually every area of our life spanning from our general mood to our ability to concentrate; it simply makes everything better the next day, especially the health and appearance of our skin.
Turns out, the idea of getting your beauty sleep isn’t just a fairytale. It’s rooted in very real and stringent science. Read on for a deep dive into precisely why sleep may just be the forgotten step in efforts to protect skin health.
The Impact of Sleep on Your Skin
Think about the last time you woke up after a bad night’s sleep. What did you notice about the person looking back at you in the mirror? Here’s a selection of things you may have seen:
The Academy of Sleep Medicine found in a study (1) that sleep-deprived participants had skin that appeared paler than usual. Your face can look whiter and less healthy, with skin that lacks its typical youthful vibrancy. Interestingly, that sallow sheen may have echoes of your tired and lethargic mood.
The general pallor to your facial skin isn’t the only thing you may notice. The lack of restorative shuteye likely made it feel much drier as well. As a result, it could appear less supple, less plump, and in need of hydration.
The nature of someone’s eyes can be another telltale sign they’ve slept poorly. It’s the delicate skin around them that can be particularly revealing. Often, your eyelids will become swollen and puffy, almost as if you’ve been crying or rubbing them throughout the night.
Dark circles are arguably the most common skin-related symptom of poor sleep. Because the skin beneath your eyes is so thin and fragile, it doesn’t take much for those pesky dark marks to arise. As a result, you can be left looking just as tired as you feel.
Wrinkles and Fine Lines
Recall the lack of suppleness in your skin that we talked about before? Well, this isn’t just aesthetic. According to a recent study in The Journal of Sleep Medicine (2), your skin literally loses its elasticity even after a brief period of sleep restriction. This, in turn, can lead to the development of newfound fine lines and wrinkles.
People get acne for a variety of reasons, so one can’t blame those breakouts exclusively on a lack of sleep. It could, however, be part of the problem. A reputable study in Clocks and Sleep (3), for example, concluded that “subjectively worse sleep quality is associated with objectively worse acne.”