We have all heard of “beauty sleep.” The more sleep, the better we look, so the belief goes. Why is that? We have all noted that when we are sleep-deprived, the lower lid bags become more noticeable and the look of our skin is rather lackluster. When we’re young, it takes more sleep deprivation to generate this look, but as we age, baggy lower lids and lackluster skin seems to show up with little provocation!
What happens at night that renews our skin? There are a number of theories, according to Robert Haas who writes in Life Extension Magazine from April, 2011.
• Chronic sleep debt may affect collagen production. Collagen is the framework for the skin and a loss of collagen leads to wrinkle production.
• Sleep loss is thought to decrease the amount of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) that the pituitary gland secretes, resulting in a thinning of the skin.
• Our bodies produce more of a certain type of steroid called glucocorticoids, or “stress hormones,” when there is an inadequate amount of quality sleep. The most important glucocorticoid is cortisol, which in large amounts is thought to adversely affect the appearance of the skin. It appears to do so by interfering with collagen production as well as by damaging immune function.
Theories and speculation abound, but there is finally a scientific study that proves the truth of “beauty sleep”, according to Marissa Hicken who writes in the August 12, 2013 edition of NewBeauty.com. Researchers at Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio have recently reported that, “Inadequate sleep is correlated with reduced skin health and accelerates skin aging.” They discovered that inadequate sleep was associated with two things:
1. The skin appeared more aged than in persons who get adequate sleep. There were more fine lines, uneven skin tone and reduced elasticity. On the other hand, coarse wrinkles and freckles that result from sun exposure were not more common.
2. Recovery of the skin from injury was slower. For instance, the redness from sunburn was found to resolve more slowly.
“This research shows for the first time that poor sleep quality can accelerate signs of skin aging and weaken the skin’s ability to repair itself at night,” says Dr. Daniel Yarosh of Estée Lauder. The company has recently launched Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II, a topical serum that is said to help skin maximize its natural nightly renewal.
If you’re serious about skin rejuvenation, perhaps it’s time to try to increase the amount of your beauty sleep?
What do you think? Please feel free to comment.
George Sanders, M.D.