The sleep conversation seems tired: You know you’re supposed to score eight hours of z’s a night (and quit it with the iPad in bed, and stop pushing your bedtime back, and wake up at 7 a.m. even on weekends), but let’s be honest: We’re all guilty of neglecting shuteye. In fact, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 35.3 percent of us report sleeping less than seven hours in a 24-hour period, and 37.9 percent have unintentionally fallen asleep during the day. And so the cycle goes. We’re all tired. The CDC even considers insufficient sleep a public health problem. But spending less time in la-la land isn’t just detrimental to your physical health (lack of sleep has been linked to serious issues including diabetes, heart disease, depression, and obesity)—it wreaks havoc on your skin, too. Keep reading to learn how (and then, seriously, early to bed tonight).
1.Your skin gets stressed out, too. And that means more breakouts ahead.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the pesky stress hormone cortisol can tank your skin health like it tanks your physical health. The science: Cortisol levels naturally decrease while we sleep, says Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. That’s a good thing—lower levels of cortisol allow your skin to regenerate and protect itself, he says. Miss out on sleep, though, and that cycle is disrupted. “Persistently high cortisol levels can interfere with how well our bodies heal and can promote acne breakouts.” Ugh.
2. A good night’s sleep can keep you looking younger.
Back to cortisol for a sec: At high levels, the hormone contributes to the breakdown of collagen (a protein that’s key in helping your skin look young and fresh) and elastic tissue, says Debra Jaliman, a New York City dermatologist and the author of Skin Rules. What that means: premature aging. The other issue is that if you don’t sleep, your body doesn’t make as much human growth hormone (which stimulates cell production), so your skin won’t be as thick, she adds. Without time to produce new, fresh cells and fix yesterday’s damage, you’re practically welcoming accelerated aging—plus, collagen may prematurely stiffen (hello, fine lines and wrinkles!), Zeichner says.
.) And use an anti-aging cream at night so your skin can absorb it while repairing itself, says Jaliman.
3. Your defense system weakens.
While we sleep, our skin cells rev up production of protective antioxidants for the next day, says Zeichner. That’s important, considering that antioxidants (our body produces some of them, and we take them in through fruits, vegetables, or skin-care products) can reduce free-radical damage to the skin from UV rays.
4. Your skin will be seriously thirsty after an all-nighter.
Dry, flaky skin is never cute. But spend too much time away from the bedroom and it’s practically a guarantee. “Lack of sleep can promote inflammation along with skin-barrier dysfunction, leading to lack of hydration,” says Zeichner.
To prevent your face from turning into a desert, turn to a skin hydrating and plumping product with hyaluronic acid, says Zeichner. (Try SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator.)
5. Sleeping Beauty was onto something: Without a solid night’s rest, you’re not going to look your best.
Inflamed, dull, and dry—that’s what you can expect after a night of little rest. A recent Swedish study showed redder, more swollen eyes, dark circles, and paler skin after a night of no sleep, says Jaliman. The same study also found that sleep-deprived people were perceived to look sadder than they did after a good night’s sleep.
To put beauty first, consider a satin pillowcase, says Jaliman, so your face slides against the pillowcase instead of crinkling up on cotton. And no matter how tired you are, don’t forget to wash your face, says Jaliman. “You want to remove all of the pollutants and makeup from your skin so that you don’t end up with clogged pores and bumpy skin.” (#WokeUpLikeThis)
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