I’m a night owl. I love curling up in bed at the end of the day watching Trevor Noah and channel surfing until the wee hours. That doesn’t bode well for a good night’s sleep and a fresh-looking morning face. This is one instance where staying woke is not a good thing.
Though it’s often said in jest, the words beauty sleep are based in fact. “Beauty happens at the cellular level. Sleep impacts cell recovery — including skin cells,” says New York dermatologist Dina Strachan, M.D., of Aglow Dermatology. “Sleep allows our cells to recover and perform optimally, contributing to a healthy, fresh and attractive appearance.” In other words, sleep deprivation can deprive you of your good looks. So there are benefits to catching those precious z’s. Here’s a list of some of them and how you can max them out:
It Happens at Night
1. Sleep helps to repair, replace and rejuvenate skin cells.
- The body releases proteins and hormones, including growth hormones that help repair the skin from environmental stressors and help skin recover from UV exposure and any other damage encountered during the day.
- All that biological maintenance helps protect skin barrier (the protective, outermost layer) function to put premature skin aging in check, defend against skin damage and prevent uneven skin tone.
- Studies show that an impaired skin barrier function from lack of sleep also causes a decrease in the thickness, elasticity and radiant appearance of the skin.
- Skin makes new collagen as we sleep. As skin’s collagen production increases, cells are plumped, helping the skin retain moisture so it looks soft and well-nourished. Remember those growth hormones? They’re also necessary for collagen production for healthy hair, nails and skin.
2. Sleep helps skin maintain moisture.
If you don’t get enough hours of sleep, the skin becomes dry. Poor sleep is associated with aging, Strachan says, and reduced skin barrier function also affects the ability of skin to stay hydrated, which is another sign of aging. Fine lines and wrinkles become more visible. Dry skin also causes inflammation.
3. Sleep helps control blemish-triggering inflammation.
“Stress hormones are affected by lack of sleep, so this may make acne flare and increase inflammation, which promotes aging,” Strachan says. According to the National Sleep Foundation, this inflammation can also cause flare-ups of psoriasis, eczema and other skin conditions. Stress and the release of cortisol can also contribute to hair loss and shedding.
4. Sleep normalizes fluid distribution to keep puffiness in check.
Dark under-eye circles and puffy eyes make you look tired. During sleep, fluids deliver nutrients to organs and tissues in the body, and excess fluids are removed. When the sleep process is hindered, says the National Sleep Foundation, under-eye bags can be created.
5. Sleep improves circulation, supporting healthier hair and nails.
The body boosts blood flow to the skin while we sleep. Sleep deprivation causes a decrease in blood flow to skin, which can be noticeable in the face by making the skin look dull and lifeless.
- Hair follicles (where hair growth begins) also receive nutrients, vitamins and minerals from blood flow. If blood circulation decreases, the hair gets less of the nutrients it needs, affecting vitality and growth.
- Fingernails and toenails are often telltale signs of overall health. Nails need blood flow and nutrients. Stress and lack of sleep prevent nutrients from getting to your nails.
Pro tips for boosting skin, hair, eyes and nails at night
- Aim for seven to nine hours. Turn in on time.
- To reduce eye puffiness, snooze with your head raised on pillows to avoid pooling of fluids in this thin, delicate area.
- Opt for a silk pillowcase.
- Wash your face with a gentle cleanser before hitting the sack.
- Keep a flask of water on the nightstand to fight dehydration.
- Choose the right moisturizer and use it nightly.
- Practice good sleep hygiene.