Did you sleep well last night?
If not, the result may simply be dull skin - or worse.
Lack of sleep can make skin conditions worse - acne, sensitivity, redness, sagging, acne, dark circles around your eyes, eczema, are all affected by sleep quality.
Without sleep, skin looks ashy and dull. This is because, during sleep, blood flow to the skin is enhanced and cell renewal takes place. Without sleep, this process is impeded.
Sleep deprivation also causes hormone imbalance which will also affect your skin poorly. The hormone cortisol rises when sleep is not restful, causing inflammation system-wide.
Inflammation worsens conditions like acne, hyper-pigmentation, redness, sensitivity, dehydration, sagging and wrinkles.
Sagging and wrinkles
Increased inflammation results in breakdown of collagen and hyaluronic acid, which support the skin and keep it supple. There is inevitable breakdown of these substances as we age, but we can minimize the amount and avoid premature aging.
Too much inflammation upsets the water balance in the skin. Sleep is the time skin repairs itself by cleaning out damaged, older cells and replacing them with newer healthier cells, but it needs adequate water for these cellular processes.
Skin cell repair is made possible by release of various growth hormones, but these hormones show up only during REM sleep.
Acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, hyper-pigmentation
These are conditions made worse by inflammation. Inflammation causes changes in the acid/alkaline balance aka “pH” which weakens the skins immunity and invites in more free radicals; harmful bacteria over-run helpful bacteria causing an inflammatory cascade and producing more harmful bacteria.
Dark circles around your eyes
These have their genesis in lack of sleep, too. Without proper sleep, inflammation causes blood vessels to dilate, which shows as the characteristic blue or purple circle under or around your eyes.
What you can do
To optimize sleep’s good effects on skin, here are some tips for helping your skin get the best results from sleep, as well as how to get better sleep quality.
Best practices for skin before and during sleep
- always remove your makeup - sleeping with makeup on only invites more inflammation and “bad” bacteria
- after cleansing, moisturize your skin effectively. For most people this means you’ll need a richer night moisturizer or oil. These should be applied over moist skin.
- use sleep time wisely by applying treatment products such as serums (under moisturizer) or use creamy masks as “sleep masks” - just apply after cleansing and go to sleep!
- sleep on clean, cool, breathable sheets like cotton, linen or bamboo. Bamboo is especially good at minimizing bacteria and keeping skin cool.
- launder sheets in detergents that are not filled with chemicals. For your comfort at Calm, I use Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder. It’s hypo-allergenic and Earth-friendly. For acne clients, change your pillow cases each day to avoid build up of bacteria.
- sleep on your back. It causes less pooling of fluids in your face, especially under eyes. You will also avoid losing your night cream into the pillow case by sleeping on your back.
- Avoid alcohol 90 minutes before sleep as it disrupts the ability to achieve REM sleep and dehydrates your skin, impairing repair processes.
Tips to get better sleep
- early to bed, early to rise is what my Grandma said (I know, Ben Franklin said it first!). Some researchers claim that each hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours. In either case, you’ll need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep, so if you have to get you or yourself ready for your job or school, then you would certainly have to start sleeping long before midnight.
- Temperature - sleep in a cool, ventilated, dark, quiet room. Sleep is easier when cool but your body temperature falls at some point during the night so have a warm blanket ready. Cotton or bamboo is best for those who have hot flashes at night.
- Step away from the electronics! For some of you, unwinding is about catching up on social media or watching mindless television. However, blue light from electronics including cell phones, ipads, and tv’s makes your body think its daytime so falling asleep is tougher.
- Relax before bed. The hours before attempting to sleep are not time for scary movies, dramas, news programs which always seem to be bad news anyway, or anything that provokes too much emotion. Develop a new habit like drinking a cup of chamomile tea, praying or meditating, or a few gentle yoga poses.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal too close to bedtime. Some health experts advise finishing your dinner no later than 6pm. Sometimes a small snack helps people sleep, but avoid caffeinated beverages and sweets (chocolate is sweet AND has caffeine). Stick with small amounts of protein and complex carbohydrates, like a fruit with peanut butter, or whole grain cracker with a slice of cheese.