Sleep and the effects on your skin

17 March 2022

So we all know how we feel when we aren’t sleeping enough or have had a bad nights sleep but really how does it affect our skin?

The first serious study was carried out by Estee Lauder in 2013 and the overall results demonstrated that there was a significant difference between the skin state in women with and without skin disorders with the former having more surface wrinkles, pigmentation and less resilient skin.

However skin restoration was slower in women with a sleep disorder for example redness after sunburn persisted for over 3 days, replenishing moisture levels after barrier damage also took 30% longer to heal compared to cases that had no sleep disorders.

Women suffering from sleep disorders were more likely to have excess body weight and interestingly tended to judge their attractiveness lower than women who slept enough!

It turns out also from other studies that have been carried out ,even one night of insufficient sleep can reduce moisture levels in your skin significantly. The more sleep deprived, the drier the skin becomes and more damage to barrier function. Changes in your skin will include increased flaking, reduced shine and opacity, appearance of redness and increased depth of wrinkles. Skin texture changes such as fine lines can manifest after 4 nights of sleep deprivation. Your skin will also become less elastic.

Good restful sleep is uber important for all of us but be aware that negative skin changes can also be seen if you sleep well. Good sleep is the foundation of well being along with nutrition and exercise.

Interestingly if you do not sleep well, be careful when having high intensity aesthetic treatments such as laser resurfacing and chemical peels as they will take longer than average to heal and restore.

There are also some skin changes that occur when you are sleeping. Transepidermal water loss intensifies in the evening and at night (drinking more water in the evening will help reduce this) which is why children suffering from atopic dermatitis sleep badly due to increased itching and adults with dry skin feel like their skins are taut and want to apply moisturiser at night. Sebum on the other hand decreases at night with the lowest point around 4am and a peak at noon.

Your skin is more permeable at night and microcirculation is enhanced which makes the penetration of active ingredients more effective. Hence the importance of skincare application at night.

The means that the effect of skincare applied at night stronger but the side effects of applying intensely concentrated solutions is increased. This means ingredients such as retinol are safer when applied in the morning. Leave your less intense skincare for use before bed and you will get similar results.

Poor quality /less sleep has also been linked to damage to your skin cell DNA, resulting in amongst other things, more serious UV damage.

So how do you adapt your skincare to sleepless nights? The most important thing is to try and improve your sleep. Skin damage aside, there is now a direct link to an increased risk of diabetes, blood circulation disturbances, endocrine and digestive systems diseases and even some types of malignant tumours. Sleep deprivation must be treated. Some things that can help are avoiding white light in the evening, opting for dimmed yellow light instead. It is important to not overeat and go to bed on a full stomach.

Checking social media is also a no-no as the blue light on your device disturbs melatonin synthesis. A comfortable bed, cool air and good ventllation are key as well as a quiet and dark bedroom.

As for skincare, try using skincare products that improve generation and restorative properties. Night creams that contain stem cells of plant origin, niacinamide, wakame extract and green tea will all help.

Applying a thicker and more nourishing cream at night will reduce increased moisture loss and eliminate that taut skin feeling in the morning. 

There are some skincare ranges available that will help regulate your circadian rhythms and some key ingredients to look out for should contain caffeine or niacinamide.

Until recently a thicker cream at night was recommended with a high concentration of stimulating ingredients , however today there are light emulsions that trick your biological clock and restore all your processes that should normally happen when you are asleep.


#sleep #effectsonskin #skinscience


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