Is Beauty Sleep Real? Understanding The Connection Between Skin and Sleep

Is Beauty Sleep Real? Understanding The Connection Between Skin and Sleep

We’re all trying to get more rest and quality hours of sleep, so we can look and feel our best. But what actually happens to your skin while you sleep? Is there any science to back up the notion of  beauty sleep?

I caught up with board-certified dermatologist Dr Jessica Weiser, MD FAAD ahead of World Sleep Day on March 18 to get down to the science of sleep and skin.

Sophia Chabbott: Happy World Sleep Day, Dr. Weiser! Let’s jump right in! So, is beauty sleep a real thing? 

Dr. Jessica Weiser: Yes! Sleep is the time when the skin restores and renews. After cleansing away makeup, sunscreen, pollution and debris, nighttime skincare products are applied to help the skin refresh itself overnight.

S.C.: What are some telltale signs that you see in a patient’s skin when they aren’t getting sufficient sleep, or quality sleep?

J.W.: Inadequate sleep can lead to dull skin, fine lines, uneven skin tone, acne breakouts, and under eye hollows, puffiness, or darkness. 

S.C.: Can you explain a bit about what happens in the skin when you sleep? 

J.W.: Skin produces collagen when you sleep. Additionally, there is increased blood flow to the skin which brings oxygen for healing and simultaneously detoxifies  the skin. With sleep, muscle tone in the face can be more relaxed leading to softer facial expressions and fewer facial furrows.

S.C.: How does the sleep-skin cycle change as you age? 

J.W.: As we age, our bodies break down proteins like collagen and elastin much faster than we produce them. When we are young, we have higher collagen levels in general and therefore skin is more plump and firm. With little sleep, aged skin has less reserve and shows a more significant increase in lines and wrinkles than younger skin. 

S.C.: What types of products or ingredients do you recommend when it comes to nighttime skincare?

J.W.: At bedtime, restorative products are ideal. Look for products with retinol or ask your dermatologist for prescription Retin-A to stimulate collagen production. Alternatively, for more sensitive skin types look for products with peptides, defensins, Bakuchiol, or other retinol alternatives. For drier skin types look for glycerin or hyaluronic acid based serums to draw moisture to the skin surface for a plumping effect. Follow retinol or serum application with a high quality moisturizer to trap in active ingredients and repair the skin barrier. 

S.C.: How many hours of sleep do you advise for healthy-looking, refreshed skin?

J.W.: According to sleep experts, a minimum of 8 hours is ideal. For skin, there isn’t a magic number but more is certainly better than less. As adults, it isn’t always possible to get 8 hours nightly but aiming for consistent sleep each night is helpful.

S.C.: Aside from time, are there any other recommendations you have for waking up looking rested and refreshed?

J.W.: Minimize sugar intake, alcohol consumption, and pollution exposure. Make sure to wash your face every night to remove makeup, sunscreen, pollution and debris from the day. 

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