Sleep Your Way to Better Skin


If you’re not sleeping enough, your skin is suffering. We’re all guilty of not getting enough sleep but what most people don’t realise is that in the hours that we are asleep our brain is detoxifying itself and our skin is repairing and regenerating. Quality sleep is crucial to both your skin health and overall health.

“When we sleep, the body detoxifies itself. Our brain detoxifies chemicals that have built up over the day and so does the rest of our body. If you have too little sleep, you don’t get rid of those toxins as quickly as you should and this impacts your skin and body,” explains Ageing scientist Professor Derek Richard.

When you’re asleep your body boosts blood flow to the skin, collagen is rebuilding and repairing damage from UV exposure. A poor night’s sleep results in skin that ages faster and doesn’t recover as well from exposure to environmental stressors like sun exposure.

Chronic poor sleep can be tied to increased signs of skin ageing and can show in your face as the following symptoms:

  • Hanging eyelids
  • Swollen eyes
  • Darker undereye circles
  • Paler skin
  • More wrinkles and fine lines
  • More droopy corners of mouth

To sleep your way to better skin, you’ll need to understand the science behind the sleep cycle.

Circadian Rhythm

Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles of biological activity and are controlled by the way the body’s internal biological clock reacts to light and dark, which is why the circadian rhythm is tied to the cycle of day and night.

During the day, light exposure causes the master clock to signal alertness and helps keep us awake and active as night falls the master clock initiates the production of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep and helps keep us asleep during the night.

Skin Ageing

Our skin cells have circadian clocks and are directly affected by the amount of sleep we received each night. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule keeps our skin healthy and being sleep deprived can contribute to skin conditions.

During the day skin cells are in defence mode to protect themselves from UV exposure and free radical damage but when the sun goes down, your body switches to regeneration mode and kicks into overdrive to repair the damage done during the day. Here’s what happening to your skin as you sleep.

  • Human growth hormones are released: During the first few hours of sleep human growth hormones (HGH) are released which help repair skin cell damage and strengthen skin. Low levels of HGH are associated with dry, thin, and pale skin.

  • Melatonin production: Melatonin is released which works as an antioxidant, reducing skin ageing by fighting free radical damage.

  • Collagen production: This is triggered in your final stage of sleep and helps smooth skin and minimise fine lines and wrinkles.

  • Stress hormone cortisol decreases: Helps repair daytime damage. During poor sleep, cortisol levels are higher and can trigger inflammation which breaks down the proteins that keep your skin smooth.

There are some long-term effects of a poor sleep schedule and consistently poor sleep quality takes a toll on your skin. Poor sleepers have significantly higher signs of skin ageing compared to good sleepers that have better recovery of their skin barrier.

Here’s what you can do to give your skin a rest at night and wake up to radiant skin.

# 1 Get a Full Night Sleep

The best place to start for your skin and overall health is to get the recommended amount of rest each night.

“It depends on the person, but the optimal amount of sleep is between seven and nine hours,” explains Professor Richard.

#2 Cleanse Before Bed

You don’t want all the dirt, sweat and irritants that have accumulated on your face during the day to sink into your skin and do damage overnight. Therefore, it’s even more important to cleanse your face in the evening than in the morning.

Cleanser for dry skin, Hydro Gel Cleanser

#3 Use a Night Moisturiser

Sleeping in a low humidity environment as well as over washing your face can dehydrate your skin. Couple that with the fact that as we age skin oil production decreases, which is why you need a topical moisturiser at night to replenish lost moisture.

#4 Sleep on Your Back

Sleeping face down on cotton sheets can irritate and compresses your face for long hours resulting in wrinkles. While most wrinkles are caused by sun damage and the expressions we make when were awake, we can also create wrinkles by sleeping on our stomach or side.

#5 Elevate Your Head

Something as simple as elevating your head whilst you sleep improves blood flow and can help reduce bags and circles under your eyes.

Paying attention to how we treat our skin whilst we sleep is just as important as how we treat our skin in the daytime. It all comes down to maintaining a healthy body and mind.

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