Sleeping for a full eight hours is critical to maintaining the health of your skin. The benefits of sleep go beyond hiding blemishes. Your skin is a reflection of your inner health, and your lifestyle shows up on your face too. For example, you may have noticed smokers have more lines and wrinkles, and their skin lacks vitality. Insufficient sleep also affects the appearance of your skin.
Nearly a third of U.S. adults sleep less than six hours per night. If you do this regularly, it can increase the risk of various health issues and change the appearance of your skin. Let’s look at the ways too little sleep harms the health and appearance of your skin.
Loss of Skin Vitality
Dehydrated skin appears dry and lacks vitality, but it’s not insufficient moisturizer that causes skin to look deprived of moisture and lose its transparency. Even a single night of sleep deprivation can make your skin look dry and lackluster.
A 2020 study carried out by Korean researchers found when women in their 40s cut their sleep to 4 hours per night, their skin lost its glow and transparency. The effects became more pronounced, the more nights of shortened sleep the participants got. You’ve probably seen people whose skin looks starved of moisture. It might not be a lack of moisturizer; they might also need a good night’s sleep!
Another study conducted by researchers in Sweden unveiled another interesting finding about insufficient sleep and skin appearance. They asked 25 young and middle-aged women to sleep a full 8 hours one night, and then 2 nights with only 4 hours of sleep. Before their sleep sessions and afterward, they photographed them.
Then, they asked subjects to rate their social appeal based on their appearance. The subjects rated the women who got less sleep as less attractive and less healthy. Of course, it’s not a good idea to judge people based on their appearance, but the study shows how insufficient sleep can affect the way others perceive you.
Changes in Skin Color
Healthy skin has a pinkish glow due to good blood circulation and oxygen delivery to skin tissue. Research shows sleep deprivation reduces blood flow to the skin and makes it appear paler and less rosy.
Dark Circles Around the Eyes
The thin skin around the eyes shows the effect of too little sleep the most. Some people who have had a bad night’s sleep have dark circles under their eyes. When you don’t get enough sleep, the blood vessels around your eyes dilate. Since the skin is so thin here, it’s easier to see the dilated vessels and the extra blood those veins carry. This gives a blue discoloration and sometimes puffiness.
You can reduce puffiness by placing two tea bags in the refrigerator and applying one to each eye. Lie down for 10 minutes and let the bags work their magic. The cold temperature reduces the puffiness, while the tannic acid in the tea helps contract the dilated vessels that cause the skin around your eyes to swell. Of course, that fix is only temporary. The longer-term solution lies in getting a good night’s sleep.
Loss of Skin Elasticity
The same study mentioned above of Korean women who slept 4 hours per night for 6 days found that insufficient sleep also reduced skin elasticity, the ability of skin to “bounce back” in response to stretch. Poor skin elasticity contributes to fine lines and wrinkles. Of all the parameters they measured, skin elasticity was reduced the most by a lack of sleep. In the study, only one night of sleeping only 4 hours led to reduced skin elasticity. So, it doesn’t take much missed sleep to damage the integrity of your skin.
Reduced Skin Regeneration
Keep skimping on sleep, and you’ll interfere with your skin’s ability to regenerate. Skin is constantly turning over, the process by which old skin cells are eliminated and new ones take their place. Healthy skin turns over about every 27 days. Insufficient sleep can hinder skin cell turnover and even affect skin healing. Sleep increases the stress hormone cortisol, and it has negative effects on healing. Plus, cortisol increases acne outbreaks.
The Bottom Line
Now you have another reason to get your beauty sleep, literally. So, don’t skimp on slumber; it’ll show on your face! See also: 5 Ways Your Skin Can Benefit from Vitamin C Serum
- Jang SI, Lee M, Han J, Kim J, Kim AR, An JS, Park JO, Kim BJ, Kim E. A study of skin characteristics with long-term sleep restriction in Korean women in their 40s. Skin Res Technol. 2020 Mar;26(2):193-199. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31692145/
- Sundelin T, Lekander M, Sorjonen K, Axelsson J. Negative effects of restricted sleep on facial appearance and social appeal. R Soc Open Sci. 2017;4(5):160918. Published 2017 May 17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5451790/
- The effects of sleep deprivation on your skin. (2021, April 14). Openaccessgovernment.Org. Retrieved March 17, 2022, from https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/the-effects-of-sleep-deprivation-on-your-skin/110335/