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How Does a Lack of Sleep Affect Skin?

October 22, 2018 by Samantha Smith
lack of sleep

Now that the clocks have gone forward and we have lost yet another hour of our important lives, our sleep patterns can be affected by this seemingly small time change. Sleep is important to us all and a lack of it can seriously affect our energy levels, our mood and our health. But just how does a lack of sleep affect our skin?

Why is Sleep Important?

Sleep allows the body to revive and heal itself, therefore a lack of sleep does not give the body enough time to recharge which will have an adverse effect on all functions of the body including skin.  Quality of sleep is more important than the amount of time sleeping. Resting Eye Movement (REM) is the most important stage of sleeping as it is the deepest sleep where the body is able to recharge & recover. If you never reach this stage, again, you will feel unable to function the following day. So sleep, is extremely important to our bodies healing themselves.

The Connection between a Lack of Sleep and Skin

Sleep deprivation can contribute to increased stress levels. Stress produces Cortisol which then causes the body to produce more sebum. But as the body also produces a strong inflammatory response to lack of sleep, skin also becomes inflamed and spots become angrier. Inflammation reduces skin cell function. Excess sebum plus inflammation exacerbates acne.

A lack of sleep can also actually weaken the immune system as it hasn’t had ample amount of time to recharge. If this happens the body is more vulnerable to bacteria including Propionibacterium acnes (the bacteria that causes acne) exacerbating the condition.

Insulin resistance can also develop when we do not get enough sleep, as it increases the amount of glucose and sugar in the body (which are key triggers of acne). If this occurs, the rate at which your skin cells divide increases, which in turn produces an increase in dead skin cells which block pores and cause acne to develop.

How Can We Ensure We Get Enough Sleep to Help Support Healthy Skin?

To get the best sleep for your body to recharge, it is best to aim to fall asleep around 10-11pm. There are many processes that happen in the body between 11pm-2am including detoxification. Removing toxins from the liver, and our body as a whole, enables the liver to function better and increases metabolism.

During this time growth hormone is also released which plays a major part in the body’s natural healing process. Better sleep will help decrease cortisol levels and inflammation in the body. In conclusion – fall asleep between 10-11pm to get the most out of your body’s own natural restorative abilities.

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