Getting enough sleep is the most important part of quality skincare. Think of how a bad night’s sleep affects us mentally. We start the morning feeling fatigued, sluggish, and drained — the consequences on skin health can be just as dramatic. There’s good news, though.
A full night’s rest is as beneficial as any spa day, and it’s free! To understand the role sleep plays in beauty and skincare, we need to look at what happens when we don’t get enough of it.
Beauty sleep — the key to healthy, glowing skin
The body is incredible at taking care of itself, but only when our daily habits don’t get in the way. While sleep is associated with resting, it’s also when many key functions become active.
Blood flow increases while we’re asleep, delivering nutrients to skin cells and balancing key functions. This also helps the epidermis repair UV damage caused by exposure to harsh sunlight. Even the processes that don’t happen in the skin play a role in its health.
Sleep promotes a strong immune system and regulates stress hormones like cortisol. High cortisol levels often lead to more oil production in skin glands. Too much of it can clog pores and create a surface for bacteria and other irritants that lead to breakouts.
What happens when we don’t get enough sleep?
Quality sleep has an amazing ability to restore, repair, and rejuvenate the entire body. When we don’t get enough of it, we restrict the processes that leave us with supple, glowing skin. The more sleep we lose, the more the negative effects add up.
A 2020 study looked at the impact of restricted sleep over six nights in 32 women. Dehydration symptoms started after just one night. This led to wrinkling as the skin lost moisture and became duller. After four nights of restricted sleep, surface texture showed signs of aggravation. Over the entire study, poor sleep affected elasticity the most.
Bear in mind that researchers only restricted sleep to four hours. While adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night, our lives are busier than ever. It’s not hard to find yourself trying to function with only half of that.
Like any healthy routine, getting enough sleep starts with forming a habit. When we don’t, we leave our bodies vulnerable and limit the skin’s capacity to protect itself. But how exactly do some of these consequences come about?
Visible signs of not getting enough sleep
The skin is a complex organ. It’s as sensitive as it is resilient, and we’re still learning about it today. Poor quality sleep doesn’t always impact the skin in the same way. Lifestyle, diet, weather, and stress can also weaken the benefits of quality sleep, but there are common causes we can look out for.
Let’s look at the visible signs of restricted sleep, and some of the best-known causes behind them.
Puffiness – water retention
While oversleeping can lead to puffiness in the face, not sleeping enough will do the same thing. Puffiness is the result of fluid buildup in the skin. There’s a myth that drinking water before bed causes this swelling, but it’s the opposite.
When the body is dehydrated, blood vessels enlarge, which helps them retain water. High sodium foods, caffeine, and sleeping face down can aggravate the puffy look. Drinking water and getting enough sleep will help regulate how much water the skin retains while keeping it hydrated and plump.
Dull complexion – poor circulation and stress
We all have an idea of what radiant skin looks like. Whether that’s a vibrant glow to even coloration, it all starts with quality sleep. This is when the skin balances the factors behind a healthy complexion, from stress hormones to circulation.
Stress slows down key functions responsible for cell repair. High-stress levels have the same impact on the skin as poor sleep does. Combined, the two increase inflammation while restricting blood flow, giving the skin a dull appearance.
This is how dark circles form under the eyes too. Luckily, getting enough sleep is a great way to regulate stress hormones while supporting skin vitality.
Wrinkles and fine lines — dehydration
Wrinkles are usually associated with aging and sun damage from harsh UV rays, but dehydration can make them more prominent. Dehydrated skin loses some of its fullness, deepening fine lines on the surface.
Keep in mind, though, that dehydrated skin and dry skin aren’t the same conditions. Dry skin is related to oil production and skin type. Dehydration is caused by a lack of water. Getting enough sleep is good for both conditions, but the treatments won’t be the same beyond that.
Premature aging – lower collagen production
Without enough sleep at night, collagen production slows down. Collagen deficiency can create issues throughout the body, from aching joints to thinning hair. On the skin, this tends to show up as signs of premature aging.
Collagen is the protein that gives skin its structure and stretchiness. It makes up 30% of the body’s cells and 90% of dermal fibers in the skin. This is why sleep restriction has such a profound effect on elasticity over time.
Collagen helps the skin handle complex movements without losing structure. It slows down the appearance of wrinkles and sagging. Skin will naturally lose collagen throughout the day, so healthy sleep is crucial for restoring it in the evening.
Quality sleep is the foundation of good skincare
Similar to the benefits of getting enough sleep, the consequences can add up over time. The body naturally does the things that promote healthy skin, but only if it has enough time. We can support these functions by making quality sleep a nightly habit.
The right beauty products can supplement skincare as issues come up. Habits like drinking enough water and winding down in the evening will also make sleep easier to come by. Just a few adjustments can make a massive difference to your skin’s appearance and overall health, especially with age.
As busy as our lives can get, nothing supports a good skincare routine like getting enough rest.