Unsure if those dark circles and fine lines are from too many late nights, or just normal aging?
Many women (and men, too!) start to begin to notice subtle signs of aging in their late 20's and early 30’s. But these changes don’t necessarily relate to a chronological age.
In these years, we are influenced significantly by what is called photoaging, which mimics the symptoms of chronological aging that include fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation (age spots), and sagging skin. Photoaging is usually a result of overexposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays, along with other environmental toxins like smoke, pollution, and dirt.
But what you probably didn’t know is that one of the major causes of skin problems and photoaging is within your control - and that is the amount of sleep you get each night. There has been a wealth of research conducted on the importance of sleep and its impact on skin, and the research has shown that without adequate sleep your skin could suffer.
So how can the amount of sleep you get impact your skin? Scientists have found that skin cells regenerate at night, while you’re sleeping. By not getting adequate sleep (7-9 quality hours), you’re not giving your body the appropriate amount of time to replace skin cells that have been damaged or lost due to natural body processes and environmental exposure.
During the nightly repair process, your body produces collagen while you sleep. Collagen is what keeps the skin looking plump and youthful. In your twenties and thirties, the body begins to produce a little less of the key proteins like elastin and collagen responsible for keeping skin firm and youthful. Lifestyle factors also influence the body's renewal processes.
Collagen production is directly affected your sleep, and lack of rest could be the culprit for premature signs of aging, including wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots.
Here’s why: collagen formation is extremely dependent on the immune-balancing processes that happen during restful nights of sleep, and without that sleep the collagen formation is severely impaired.
Because collagen is the major part of the skin’s structure, it is integral in sealing in moisture and helping give skin its elasticity - both of which give skin a more youthful appearance. When collagen formation is impaired because of lack of sleep, premature skin aging appears.
Research has shown that sleep plays a major role in our immune system function and that those changes have a direct effect on collagen production. In fact, many studies have shown that long periods of sleep deprivation will trigger a break in the skin barrier, along with a negative impact on our skin’s integrity.
Here’s another problem: a lack of sleep or a lack of quality of rest can lead to a greater amount of stress, which can trigger an increase in the production of the steroid hormone cortisol.
Cortisol has been shown to impede collagen production and can even be a cause for other skin problems like psoriasis and dermatitis.
Sleep deprivation can also effect your skin's overall complexion. Inadequate sleep can cause a decrease in blood flow to the skin. Proper blood flow helps your skin "glow" and it gives you naturally rosy cheeks!
If you're getting less sleep than you need, you might notice that your skin looks duller. You also might notice that you have dark circles or "bags" under your eyes after a restless night.
Stress due to lack of sleep can exacerbate acne, blemishes and other skin problems like dermatitis, erythema, psoriasis, and even alopecia.
Acne and breakouts are something almost everyone deals with at one point or another, usually around the onset of adolescence and the hormonal changes that happen in our bodies at that time. In various studies it was shown that acne increased in severity and frequency when lack of sleep caused higher levels of stress.
But perhaps the biggest problem from stress due to lack of sleep is the impact it has on the skin barrier function in our bodies. Stress induced by lack of sleep caused water loss, lower water retention ability, and impaired skin barrier function.
One of the key roles played by our skin barrier is to protect our bodies by repairing wounds when we’re injured. When exhaustion-induced stress occurs, that ability is diminished. When stress causes cortisol levels to increase significantly, wound healing was delayed due to compromised skin immune function. This often leads to an increased severity of infections at the wound site.
Studies have shown that animals who were sleep-deprived developed ulcerated lesions on their limbs, as well as suffered an increased risk of bacterial invasion through the skin due to a breakdown in skin integrity.
One additional concern is the impact of long-term skin damage due to chronic stress. Chronic stress tends to suppress the body’s immune response, which leads to increased susceptibility to infections and a higher inflammatory response in the body.
This additional inflammatory response caused skin aging symptoms, including the formation of fine lines and wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and a dull sheen to the skin. Currently, there is no recognized or proven treatment for stress-induced skin problems or the associated premature aging.
There is no question that sleep-induced stress can impair skin function and cause premature aging. So how much sleep do you need?
Experts state that all adults require a minimum of 7-9 hours per night of uninterrupted sleep. Children and teens require more sleep to keep up with their growing bodies and minds. As we reach our 60's and older, we need slightly less sleep. Here are some tips to get your best sleep:
Applying powerful products before bed will help to ensure that you get the most out of your "beauty sleep." You'll get the maximum results from your anti-aging products when your body is in renewal mode.
Sleep is good for healing a variety of body ailments, including ones that impact the skin. At night, you’ll gain maximum impact from renewing skincare products that include vitamin A, vitamin C and glycolic acid. That’s because there’s no sunlight around to break down the important ingredients found in those formulations.
Sleep is also a good time to apply moisturizers to your skin, because your skin loses moisture during the night. After cleansing, you don’t have a protective layer of your natural oils on your skin, so you lose more water. It’s called trans-epidermal water loss, and you can minimize that water loss with a good moisturizing cream or recovery overnight mask.
In addition to losing water through your skin, the temperature of your skin also changes, becoming hotter and drier. Many dermatologists recommend using a heavier cream during the night.
One other benefit of using skincare products every night is that you aren't exposing your skin to environmental toxins at that time - like smoke, sunlight UV rays, or pollution. This gives your skin time to recover and rejuvenate without being bombarded by those environmental pollutants. And if you have sun spots or age spots, you won’t be battling the sun which tends to degrade potent actives like vitamin C that you would use to diminish them.
So, get your beauty sleep and don't skip that nighttime skincare routine so you can keep putting your best face forward!