How Sleep Improves Your Skin
Follow these pre-bedtime steps for waking up with better skin. There’s a reason why your 40 winks are often referred to as “beauty sleep.” It turns out, in order to wake up each day with healthy-looking skin, people need plenty of shut-eye. Skimping on sleep can lead to a host of skin problems, according to top dermatologists.
“Sleep is important for all of the body’s systems and their functioning,” says Judith Hellman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. “As far as the skin is concerned, lack of sleep causes the stress hormone cortisol to be released, which in turn encourages inflammation in the skin, causing flare-ups in conditions like acne, psoriasis, and even eczema.”
The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep per night for most adults. Less than that can play a role in the development of wrinkles, sagging skin, and dark circles under the eyes. The reason? During sleep, your body delivers fluids to organs and tissues that need replenishing, while removing excess fluids from other areas. Cutting this process short is one reason sleep-deprived people often have under-the-eye bags (i.e., pockets of fluid). Skimping on sleep also increases levels of inflammation and stress hormones, which can destabilize your immune system, aggravating skin problems like acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
In addition, developing a healthy nighttime skin-care routine can make an impact on how skin looks in the morning. Follow these nighttime skin-care tips to wake up with better skin.
Always wash before bed.
Feeling exhausted is no excuse for ignoring basic healthy-skin habits, including cleansing your face before bed. Women should be sure to remove all makeup as well, as foundation and other skin-covering cosmetics may plug the pores and prevent skin from breathing overnight. Take two minutes before bed and wash with warm water and a gentle cleanser. Pat your face dry with a soft towel.
Which products to use overnight will differ depending on whether a person has dry, oily, or sensitive skin. A dermatologist can help determine a patient’s skin type. In general, a gentle cleanser followed by moisturizer is the way to go, says Robin Evans, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. “For most people, an emollient-rich moisturizer should be applied after properly cleansing, before bedtime,” she says. Look for a moisturizer that feels hydrating and soothing, but not overly heavy. For people prone to acne, look for products specially formulated for sensitive skin, meaning they are made without comedogenic (pore-blocking) ingredients found in some moisturizers and are less likely to be heavily scented, which can also irritate sensitive skin.
Check for antioxidants.
People who cleanse and moisturize their face each night and still feel like they wake up looking tired could benefit from products that contain antioxidants, including vitamin C and green tea, which can aid in overnight skin repair.
Consider anti-aging products.
No product is going to erase fine lines or wrinkles entirely but applying anti-aging serums and eye creams before bed can help. During sleep, the products sink into the skin, allowing for more potent results.
Give products a head start.
For best results, let your nighttime beauty products sink into the skin for a few minutes before heading to bed. Applying them about 15 minutes before lying down helps prevent them from either rubbing off on the sheets or getting onto your pillowcase where they may possibly irritate your eyes.
Get seven to nine hours of sleep.
During sleep, the body releases human growth hormone, a necessary ingredient for collagen production—the protein that gives people shiny hair, strong nails, and glowing skin. Skimping on sleep raises cortisol levels, which can interfere with collagen production. If bedtime has drifted later and later recently, try moving it forward in 15-minute increments over the course of a week or two until you achieve at least a seven-hour minimum.
This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation