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We’ve heard our moms say it. Our friends say it. We’ve probably even said it ourselves. Most likely before a first date or some fancy event.
The phrase, “I need to get my beauty sleep,” is one women have heard and tossed around for most of their lives. But where did the assumption that sleep can make you more beautiful? Did this theory just infiltrate our minds when Disney created an entire blockbuster movie off this concept — a princess called “Sleeping Beauty” little girls would look up to for decades? Or is their actually science behind getting your beauty sleep? Turns out, there is.
But before you assume setting a bedtime and sticking to it will make you wake up more beautiful, it’s important to understand that sleep is only one factor that impacts skin quality. Diet, exercise, hormones, and genetics all play a role in the clarity of our skin. However, research shows, the quality and quantity of sleep we get can impact our overall complexion.
3 ways sleep impacts skin
Sleep improves skin barrier function
Our skin’s primary role is act as a barrier that keeps pollution and toxins out of our body. The more moisturized our skin the better our skin is at acting as a barrier. Lack of sleep results in a decrease of skin barrier function. All this means is that poor sleepers, those who get less than seven hours a night, fail to retain moisture as well as good sleepers. Poor skin barrier function leads to dry skin which can cause itching, irritation, and in some cases, eczema.
Lack of Sleep Can Accelerate Skin Aging
Skin barrier function is also directly correlated to skin aging. A decrease in skin barrier function caused by lack of sleep can accelerate skin aging. Yikes.
Lack of sleep slows healing from sun damage
Additionally, inadequate sleep slows healing from sun damage. This isn’t surprising, knowing that sleep is the body’s time to rest and repair. Like other systems in the body, the skin is also an organ that has to rejuvenate, repair and replenish, and this takes place during sleep (source).
There are also myths floating around about beauty sleep. Here are two we want to debunk:
Myth 1 – Dark Under Eye Circles are Caused Entirely by Lack of Sleep
At some time in your life you have probably heard the bags under your eyes you fight to cover with concealer every morning are a direct result of lack of sleep. Although that is not an unreasonable assumption to make, there is no scientific data to back that claim. Most likely, under-eye circles are a result of a combination of things, such as allergies, genetics and possibly lack of sleep.
Myth 2 – More Sleep = Less Breakouts
If only this were true! Heck, most women would probably go into hibernation. While it would be nice to say getting more sleep would drastically improve the amount of breakouts we see, there are many other factors play a role in skin quality – such as genetics, skincare routine and diet. Sleep is only a piece of overall skin health.
3 Ways to Improve Your Skin
There may be no playbook for waking up flawless, but there are some things you can do to get one step closer to healthier skin:
Sleep your way to better skin
Although sleep won’t solve all your skin problems, it plays a big role in skin repair and restoration. If you aren’t getting adequate sleep at night, take a look at your sleeping environment. Is your mattress ten years too old? Maybe it’s time for an upgrade. Perhaps you are drinking caffeine too late in the day. Assess your sleep hygiene. If you struggle from lack of sleep regularly, you may want to talk to your primary care physician about potential solutions.
Don’t sleep in your makeup
Sleeping in your makeup can be easily avoided. We’ve all had nights where we accidentally crash on the couch with our mascara still on, but most nights we get it off. However, don’t make sleeping in your makeup a habit. This can clog your pores and lead to breakouts. If you are prone to dozing off with a full face of makeup on, try keeping micellar cleansing wipes on your bedside table.
Cleanse and moisturize before bed
Cleansing your face first thing in the morning and right before bed is important for everyone, even those who don’t wear makeup. Our skin encounters many external elements throughout the day (think dirt, pollution, weather and then some). We cleanse for basic hygiene. Moisturizing cleansers are often recommended because they cleanse without drying your skin out or stripping your skin of the lipids you need. This type of cleanser tends to be more gentle.
Don’t just take care of your skin to improve looks. Take care of your skin because it’s the organ whose primary job is to protect us! For some of us, that starts in bed.