Almost every list of tips for taking better care of your skin will include getting adequate, quality sleep. And when know that our skin will betray our lack of sleep in the form of dehydration, fine lines, under-eye dark circles, and an ashen complexion. It’s important to understand what is happening to our skin while we sleep, and how we can be sure that were giving our skin (and the rest of us) the quality rest it needs.
Calling it “beauty sleep” is accurate
A lot happens with our skin as we sleep. Perhaps most important is our skin’s increased mitosis – the cell division that occurs in order to renew and repair skin. While we are sleeping, our skin is working hard to not only regenerate itself, but also to undo the free-radical damage that occurs daily (from pollution, sun exposure, etc.). And the quality of sleep is a bigger factor than some realize, as it appears the majority of cell regeneration happens during REM sleep. So, in addition to getting that seven or eight hours per night, it’s also important to reach that deep sleep.
But cell regeneration isn’t the only thing we miss out on when we’re not getting enough sleep. Sleep increases melatonin – an antioxidant that can help fight fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging. Sleep also reduces levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. High levels of cortisol can contribute to thinner skin and skin discoloration, in addition to weakening the support structure of the skin.
You can help your skin get the most benefits while you sleep
One of the most important things you can do is to allow yourself to get the sleep you need. Banish all distractions (smartphone, TV, etc.) and give yourself plenty of time to get the 6-8 hours of sleep you need.
Another important issue is skin hydration. While sleep-deprived skin can be especially dehydrated, skin can still lose a lot of moisture during sleep. A topical moisturizer (usually a heavier moisturizer than you’d use during the day), along with getting plenty of fluids internally (drinking water and eating fruits and vegetables with a high water content, such as cucumbers and apples) can help skin retain more moisture during sleep.
It can be hard to get the sleep you need when you’re leading a busy life. But making the effort to get adequate sleep can go a long way toward improving your skin – and your overall health.