A good night’s sleep is not only important for mental and physical health, but it also has a significant effect on your skin. Poor sleep can lead to dry skin, wrinkles, dark circles under the eyes (more tired appearance), and a weakened immune system, among other issues. This can impact health, appearance, and perceived social appeal1,2,3. Read on to discover what science has to say about the connection between sleep and skin health.
Did you know your skin has its own circadian rhythm?
That’s right, skin has a rhythm cycle that relates to oil production, skin cell stimulation (for good and bad cells), sensitivity reactions, and aging. Stress and shift work can therefore impact this natural workflow of the skin and impact skin health and skin reactions like acne, rosacea, and eczema.4,5
The Key Role of Sleep in Skin Health.
Sleep plays an important role in skin health because it repairs and renews cells, which helps keep skin looking vibrant and healthy. During sleep, the body goes through a process of restorative healing that affects your physical and mental wellbeing. Additionally, sleep can help regulate stress levels, which can reduce inflammation, as well as balance hormone levels that support cell growth.
Research Links Poor Sleep to Premature Aging and Acne Breakouts.
A study published in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology6 suggests that individuals who sleep five hours or less each night experience premature aging of their skin, such as wrinkles, dark spots, and reduced elasticity. Furthermore, sleep deprivation has been linked to acne breakouts due to increased production of the stress hormone cortisol.7 Therefore, getting an adequate amount of quality sleep is essential for maintaining youthful-looking skin.
So What Can You Do?
1. Establish a Bedtime Routine to Help You Get a Good Night’s Rest. To ensure that you're getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night8, it's important to create a regular bedtime and sleep routine as an essential part of any skin health plan. Just like diet and exercise, creating a consistent routine before sleeping can help promote healthy sleep and healthier skin. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and limit your exposure to bright screens at least one hour before sleep. Additionally, avoid caffeine late in the day, take a warm bath or shower to relax your body before bed, write down all thoughts that are worrying you to free your mind for sleep, read a book or listen to calming music before falling asleep.
2. Practice Stress Management Techniques to Improve Your Overall Sleep Quality. Stress is one of the main reasons for insomnia, which in turn can affect your skin by raising cortisol levels (the stress hormone). Regularly practicing stress management techniques like yoga, breathing exercises, or mindfulness meditation can help you get better sleep. These techniques can also reduce stress hormones that lead to breakouts and other skin problems.
3. Create a Conducive Sleep Environment Design a comfortable sleeping space that is cool, and with black-out curtains or eye masks to keep out light (especially important for shift workers). Fresh sheets and calming natural scents can also help set the stage for good sleep. Fight the urge to fall asleep in front of the television or electronics as this disrupts wind-down hormones. Incorporating these strategies regularly will signal your body that it’s time for rest and get you ready for a good night's sleep.
4. Supplements When All Else Fails If you continue to experience symptoms of poor sleep, there are products available to help improve your overall quality of rest, such as special pillows, cooling masks, weighted blankets, white noise apps, and supplements to support hormone regulation.
Melatonin – this ‘sleep hormone’ is naturally made in our bodies from serotonin, during darker hours of the day. Its level naturally rises about 2 hours before bedtime to help put you into a state of calmness which is helpful for sleep induction. Bright light during morning and afternoon helps signal melatonin release in the evening. Blue light exposure neutralizes melatonin’s effect. Melatonin supplements (1-3mg) two hours before bedtime may help if you have difficulty with sleep initiation.9
L-theanine – is a naturally occurring amino acid that helps promote relaxation and reduced anxiety levels by increasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), dopamine, and serotonin which can collectively help slow brain activity, and improve calmness.10 For sleep, it may help some fall asleep more quickly without negative sedative effects.
GABA – is a neurotransmitter (body chemical for cell communication) that helps clam brain cells from overwhelm, thus thought to help with sleep initiation for those whose brain is ‘racing’. It can be found naturally in some food sources and in supplements. According to a 2019 study, when combined with L-theanine, GABA can have a positive synergistic effect on sleep quality and duration when compared to either alone.11
5-HTP – 5-hydroxytriptophan is a natural by-product of tryptophan from the foods we eat. It is also found in supplements and helps our body produce more serotonin (helps regulate mood and sleep-wake cycles). In supplements it is thought to help increase natural serotonin, which in turn can help improve melatonin levels, and quality sleep.12
We have quality sleep aid supports available in the medi-spa for your convenience.
I hope this has been informative and helpful in strategizing good sleep habits to optimize your healthy, youthful, and refreshed skin.
See you at the spa soon.
Cindy Fehr RN(NP)
Cindy is an experienced RN(NP) residing in Southern Manitoba, Canada, with a passion to support her patients looking and feeling their best at every age. This blog is to support patients in gaining knowledge about skincare, medical aesthetics procedures, and health & wellness practices. It is her goal to share the knowledge she gains from continuous reading of research, and regular continuing professional development sessions. Pursuit of personal and professional growth is paramount to Cindy and she loves to share this learning with her patients.