Hoping that you’ll always have that youthful face staring back at you in the mirror? If you take care of your skin, chances are you’ll have everyone doing a double-take as they card you for wine the more birthdays you celebrate.
But even all the best skincare in the world can’t fully save you if you don’t do your part.
Are you the kind of gal that regularly stays up late to binge-watch shows, work on projects, study, dance all night, or even get pooped watching the kids? If so, you’re cheating your body out of precious sleep.
But does lack of sleep make you look older?
It totally does. And the worst part? You might not notice the first few times. But then one morning you’ll be looking in the mirror and you’ll be like, “OMG! Who are YOU?!?”
And it’s not in a good way either. With lack of sleep lines form into permanent creases on your forehead. That skin under your eyes starts turning a bit darker. You suddenly realize you can’t ever leave the house again without makeup unless you want everyone asking you, “Hey, are you OK? Are you sick?”
Unless you want to go on a murderous rampage, it’s probably best that you get some sleep. Not only will it put you in a better mood overall, but you’ll help slow down the accelerated aging effects.
UCLA researchers found that even in one night of insufficient sleep, cells age more quickly for older adults. Yes, one night. And while you’re young and have MANY nights like this, you won’t notice those subtle signs. One day you’ll wake up in your 40s and be aghast.
Plus, lack of sleep doesn’t just age your exterior. It ages you inside and leaves you very vulnerable to diseases like cancer, heart disease, and even multiple sclerosis (MS).
Are you sleeping enough? Generally, if you’re sleeping less than 7 hours of sleep per night, which is what the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends, then you’re not getting enough. Long work hours, late nights having fun, or simply putting sleep by the wayside all result in these negative impacts for our bodies inside and out.
The science doesn’t lie. When you get better sleep, you keep wrinkles from setting in too early on in your life. Plus, you’ll just feel better. Who doesn’t feel amazing once they get proper sleep? Your skin rewards you for that sleep by looking its best. After all, sleep is the time when your skin cells (and all the cells in your body actually) work their magic and repair. Let them do their job!
What’s more, if you’re a faithful lover of the sun and you habitually miss out on primo sleep, you’re doing yourself in even more. That’s what they found out at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in a clinical try that Estee Lauder commissioned. Poor sleep showed more visible signs of skin aging and looked worse than those that slept well.
Chronic sleep deprivation causes medical problems like diabetes, cancer, immune deficiencies, obesity, and now have been proven to have an ill effect on skin function. So if you want to keep from looking older, one of the key answers to this age-old dilemma (pardon the pun) is to get more sleep.
Keep reading and you’ll find plenty to motivate you into bed earlier each night for the sake of your skin, as well as the rest of your health too.
Why quality sleep is so important
When you get those consistent nights of good, healthy sleep, your body will thank you. As you sleep, your growth hormones kick into action to repair your body’s cells. Your brain is also decluttering to get rid of waste products that stack up in there all day. While you’re busy dreaming, your body makes new and healthy cells in your organs and tissues. Plus, all that resting is just good for your brain.
Really, the best way to keep yourself healthy and enjoy a longer life is to get more sleep. It has short- and long-term benefits that you can’t miss out on. And you’ll wind up looking and feeling younger throughout all of it.
How much sleep should you be getting? It really depends on your age. Young children need lots of sleep but as we get older, experts recommend that you get somewhere around 7 to 8 hours of sleep as an adult. But for women, studies have shown you’ll need about 20 more minutes of sleep than men. That makes perfect sense since we do more anyway!
Joking aside, the fact of the matter is that you need more sleep, period. Your health is so important. In our youth, we take it for granted and we don’t appreciate it until we’re older. Ask anyone older than you. And if you’ve seen it happen to an older person you love, you know that taking care of yourself is the best avenue toward great health inside and out. Imagine if just getting more sleep was the ticket to helping you avoid more health problems down the road!
How lack of sleep makes you look older
So, hopefully right now, you’re fluffing your pillows and getting ready for bed. Good for you! But you might be wondering how not sleeping enough can make you look older and more haggard before your prime.
If you don’t have children yet, take a look at friends that do. Compare their photos from before they had kids to now. They don’t look the same, do they? And don’t compare based on their weight…we mean in the face. It looks tired, worn, aged, doesn’t it? That’s because they’re not getting enough sleep.
Keep reading to discover the science behind sleep for skincare!
It decreases the skin’s ability to recover
Researchers found that women that were deprived of sleep showed visible signs of premature aging plus a decrease in their skin’s ability to recover after exposure to sun. The team which was helmed by Dr. Elma Baron, declared that insufficient sleep is a global problem, and that those who did get good sleep were better able to recover from those taxing stressors.
Dermatologists everywhere will tell you that the nighttime is when your body repairs itself from daily damage, including your skin. When you’re not getting enough sleep, that can speed up the signs of skin aging and further weaken your skin’s ability to repair itself properly at night.
Essentially, over time, those late nights add up and leave your skin unable to fend for itself. It won’t be able to properly recover and restore, leading to a more aged look than your contemporaries.
It will cause fine lines and wrinkles to look more pronounced
Additionally, the researchers also discovered that the people that didn’t sleep well showed more skin aging signs like fine lines, reduced elasticity, and uneven skin tone. When you don’t get enough sleep, it reduces the production of collagen. Collagen is what keeps your skin youthful, smooth, and bouncy. As it depletes, your skin is more prone to wrinkling and sagginess. It also gives you that dreaded downturned expression.
One study in particular was conducted in the UK with 30 female volunteers. Among them was Jodie Kidd, a supermodel and TV personality. Everyone was photographed and had their skin tested with a Visia machine. They answered a survey about their self-esteem and well-being after a night of sleeping for a full 8 hours.
Then they were asked to sleep for only 6 hours the next 5 nights. The results showed that the skin of these participants over this short time increased wrinkles and fine lines by 45%.
So even if you have a week or two where things are getting out of control with work or your kids or you are just out having a grand old time, let that sink in. Take care of YOU first so that you don’t look in the mirror a week from now and swear you look closer to 60 than 20.
It will mess with the collagen production
Why do you think those women in the study had more lines and wrinkles? It’s because lack of sleep directly stresses the body which in turn affects collagen production. Collagen production naturally slows as you age, but with a lack of sleep, you can also cause it problems. You want your body to keep collagen production rolling because it is the most important part of your skin’s structure to keep it elastic. It’s also good for keeping your joints healthy.
When collagen breaks down, your skin will look thinner and lose its firmness. More wrinkles take hold. Lack of sleep increases the production of glucocorticoid. This elevation in cortisol blocks fibroblast function while increasing the matrix metalloproteinases. In other words, it speeds up the breakdown of both collagen and elastin therefore speeding up the aging process with increased wrinkles, loss of volume in the skin, and a decrease in elasticity.
Back to the UK study above, the women also had other noticeable changes to their skin within that short timeframe. Spots were up by 13% in number and 7% in visibility. Porphyrins increased by 16% with an intensity of 7%. Redness increased by 8% and was 5% more visible. Brown spots jumped up to 11% in number and were 4% more intense.
Jodie herself had 56% more pores and 83% in visibility. Spots for Jodie increased by 11%. They were 23% more visible. Her porphyrins increased by 65% while fine lines and wrinkles increased by 100%.
Look, we could go on and on all day about numbers. The fact of the matter is this – if you’re already breaking out on the regular, a lack of sleep is just going to make things worse. It’s going to make things worse in the long term too. Lack of sleep is often because of stress and basically, the best thing you can do is work to resolve that stress so you can get that sleep.
It will increase the risk of sun damage
When you sleep as you should, your body has natural antioxidant stores it draws upon to do battle with free radicals. When you don’t sleep though, it decreases the amount of antioxidants that your body creates. This makes it harder for your skin to protect itself from those environmental aggressors you encounter the next day. Things like UV light, pollution, and smoke whether it’s in the air or cigarette smoke all take their toll.
Wait, you don’t smoke? Good for you! But there are a ton of people that do. And any time you are standing on the corner waiting to cross the street to get to your subway station and someone is smoking, you’re being directly accosted with damaging pollutants. With a good night’s sleep, your body can kick those free radicals away, but if you’re sleep-deprived, you don’t stand a chance.
Remember, women have a harder time recovering from sleep deprivation. One of the most common aggressors is the sun, and the studies we mentioned above have all shown that the decrease in the skin’s ability to recover after being exposed to the sun results in accelerated skin aging.
It will make your under eyes area dark and puffy
Raccoons are cute! But you with dark circles under your eyes? Not so much. This is due to your lymphatic system which is like the body’s waste disposal system. It filters out excess fluids and toxins. Lack of sleep in some data has revealed that this is problematic for proper lymphatic drainage. If you can’t get that fluid to drain away, your eyes get puffy and those bags under them look heavier and heavier.
Again, limiting your sodium intake, especially in the evenings, can really do wonders when you hit the sheets at a reasonable time every night.
Puffy eyes and a poor night of sleep seem to go hand in hand. And while other things can cause those unsavory bags from developing, a lack of sleep is the most common cause. Staying up late and binge-watching your shows while killing a whole bag of salty chips is a recipe for puffy and aged skin.
Additionally, the later you stay up, the more prone to dryness your eyes will be. They get red and irritated which leads to inflammation. So your eyes will look older themselves plus you’ll wind up with more fine lines on your eyelids. Have you ever had a twitching in your eye? Guess what that’s from…not getting enough sleep!
Remember, eyes are one of the things people first notice about us. They’re that kindred window to the soul, so to speak, but if they’re red, puffy, saggy, lined, or baggy, they will add at least a decade onto the way you look.
It will make your face look duller and less attractive
Do you know what else happens when you don’t get enough sleep? Your cortisol levels rise. When that happens, it triggers inflammation. This inflammation destroys the proteins in your skin that helps it look smooth and radiant. The blood in your body isn’t flowing efficiently either which means your skin is not getting enough oxygen. This will result in a pigmented, blotched, or even ashy appearance.
And as if that isn’t unsettling enough, do know that those raised cortisol levels over time can create chronic conditions. Inflammation is the root cause of just about every disease under the sun. We don’t want to scare you, but part of helping your body avoid dangerous health concerns is to destress and get that sleep. Your skin will look better and you will lower your risk for major health problems down the road.
Without proper sleep, you’re disrupting your body’s normal circadian rhythm in your skin too. This means it won’t have the time it needs for healthy cell turnover. The old dead skin cells will remain on the surface and leave you with a dull-looking complexion.
Of course, no one is perfect. Even if you DO go to bed at a reasonable time every night, some nights might be futile. You may hear the neighbor’s annoying dog barking at 3am and can’t fall back asleep. You may lie awake ruminating over your life, unable to stop your brain from doing so. When that happens, you can use a good exfoliation scrub like this on by M3 Naturals Activated Charcoal Scrub (Amazon link) will certainly help smooth things over. Then resolve to clear your mind (or invest in earplugs) and get a better night of sleep tonight.
In Sweden, they did a study where 23 men and women ages 18 to 31 were photographed after 8 hours of sleep. Then, these participants were to sleep for 5 hours before being kept awake for 31 straight hours. Both sets of photos were sans makeup and with loose hair. Grooming techniques remained the same. These researchers then asked 65 other people to rate the photos on how healthy, vibrant, and fatigued the people in the photos looked.
Those well-rested photos scored much higher than those photos that were taken of the people who didn’t get enough sleep. In fact, the sleep-deprived lot was judged to look 19% more tired. They were also deemed 6% less healthy and less attractive too by 4%.
At the University of Michigan, researchers used a scientific face-measuring system known as photogrammetry to objectively measure the attractiveness and freshness for 20 patients undergoing sleep apnea treatments. Medical professionals and volunteers then rated the photos, both before and after. The scores reflected a more positive feel for the photos taken after the sleep apnea treatments were complete.
Ok, ok, ok. We know you get it now, don’t you? Good! Go do your skincare routine, brush your teeth, get in your pajamas, and then read on to find out how to remedy this by getting more sleep at night!
How to sleep better at night
So now that you know what lack of sleep can do, you might be wondering how to prevent accelerated aging through lack of sleep. After all, some nights might be harder than others. Follow these tips to help get a better night of sleep every night!
– Have a set bedtime
Use your phone to set the alarm for your bedtime. Make it the same time every night. When the alarm goes off, that’s your cue to start getting ready for bed. Follow this and you’ll fall into a naturally regular sleep-wake rhythm.
– Create a darkened space
Is your room dark enough when you turn out the lights? If not, banish blue light from TVs and devices. Use blackout curtains to block out streetlights or the sun when it rises at 5am and you don’t need to be up to get ready for work until 7am.
– Stay away from caffeine in the afternoon
Caffeine might be your hero in the morning, but after 3pm, it’s a no-no if you want to sleep well at night. If you feel like treating yourself to a coffee after 3pm, order decaf.
– Exercise earlier in the day
Getting exercise is great for helping you sleep soundly every night! There’s one big but here… don’t exercise too close to your bedtime. It will only keep you pumped up and awake.
– Choose the right mattress
When is the last time you bought a new mattress? If you have been having sleep troubles for a long time and have had the same mattress, it might be time to upgrade. You want one that provides enough support for your head, buttocks and heels to rest properly.
– Make sure you get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night
If you really want to look and feel your best, go to bed on time to get that 7 to 9 hours of necessary sleep. It will make all the difference!
– Avoid drinking and smoking before bed
While smoking is never good for you or your skin, alcohol in moderation has been deemed fine. But still, whether you’re having wine with dinner or dancing all night with a cocktail fuel motivating you, cut off the action at least 2 hours before bed.
– Use good sleep hygiene
Tired as you may be, make sure you take off your makeup before bed and brush your teeth. Don’t forget to keep your bedding clean too.
– Use quality bedding
And speaking of bedding, only choose sheets and pillowcases with a high thread count. This will keep them from pulling on your skin as you sleep and avoid causing saggy, stretched, and wrinkled skin.
– Go for specialty skin care treatments
– Use your CPAP machine
In the event you’ve been prescribed a CPAP machine, make sure you use it. It was found that those with sleep apnea that use the CPAP machine look younger and more fresh-faced. If you still have troubles, talk to your doctor to get to the bottom of your sleep problems.
Even with all of these things, there may be things that could be causing you troubles despite your best efforts. Among them are sleep disturbances from pregnancy. Women that are pregnant often have a devil of a time falling asleep and staying that way. Conversely, women going through menopause have hot flashes to contend with.
And even if you’re not pregnant or aging into menopause, your partner may be keeping you awake by hogging the bed or snoring. Even a pet can pester you at night, or small children if you have them. Whether you live alone or have a home full of love, any night of the week could leave you prone to worrying about problems that cause you to lose out on sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, you should fight off insomnia with exercise (early in the day), having a set bedtime routine, having a set wake time, limiting caffeine and alcohol, and repairing your sleep environment. If none of these adjustments make a difference in your sleep, you should speak to your doctor about them as soon as possible.
How to compensate for lack of sleep
For those one-off wild nights or following a night of tossing and turning from stress, here is how you can make up for lost time on that lack of sleep.
Hydrate your skin from the inside out
Often, the lack of sleep is associated with dehydration. Drink more water than usual to help balance things out. Dehydration will make you feel more tired on top of everything else. Whether you drank too much or you just stayed up too late working, studying, or reading, you will want to rehydrate as much as you can to flush excess sugar from your bloodstream.
Even if you didn’t eat sugar, your body’s insulin production is out of whack. And if you’re reaching for the sugar now because you’re sleep-deprived and you can’t resist, it’s even more important to flush it out to prevent fatigue from fulling tearing you down.
Simply fill up a big pitcher of water to drink from each morning, pack water bottles with you, or use a refillable water bottle at work and keep tabs on how many times you’ve refilled it. Drink water with your coffee too as caffeine is a diuretic which means you’ll be releasing the hydration your body needs. Balance here is key!
Have you ever woken up with a nasty headache of feeling dizzy? Maybe it’s side effects from the alcohol, but the bottom line is it can happen even if you haven’t had a sip of alcohol. It comes from being dehydrated. Drink a glass of water and 30 minutes later, have another. You should feel much better. B-complex vitamins can also help.
And while hydration and nutrition are certainly important to keep healthy and youthful, certain creams can really help seal the deal for repairing your skin and keeping it going to repair all night while you sleep. Here are the creams to get if you want to ensure your face looks fabulous whether you get the right amount of sleep or have a wild night here and there!
With vitamin B3, this secret can be yours to strengthen the moisture barrier of your skin and give you a more youthful complex.
Not only does it moisturize, but it also gets rid of that dull layer of dead skin to brighten your appearance come morning.
If your skin appears sallow or grey, this overnight self-tanner adds a brighter look to wake up to.
Always apply sunscreen outdoors
And in your wakeful hours, don’t neglect to protect your skin. Wear proper attire when you go outside. If you’re running in the park, wear a hat and sunscreen like the Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Oxide sunscreen with Broad Spectrum SPF 50 (Amazon link). Take an umbrella along for shelter and shade at the beach.
Look up too. Even if you see cloudy skies for miles, apply that sunscreen. The sun’s damaging rays can penetrate your skin even through those clouds. And yes, even when it’s cold outside too!
Invest in antioxidants
Inside and out, it’s important to have enough antioxidants to counter the environmental stressors in your life. This is even truer if you spent the night tossing and turning, worrying about that exam or your presentation at work. Eat nourishing fruits and vegetables and choose skincare that is fueled by antioxidants for a full spectrum of protection.
A rejuvenating serum will come handy
In the morning if things still look bleak on your face, try a serum that is full of antioxidants to tackle that tired look. The best one I’ve found so far is the Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum (Amazon link). Vitamin C is a notorious brightener that also works instantly as well as overtime to remedy tired, aging skin. My personal favorite is Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum (Amazon link).
Lack of sleep definitely ages you. So if you think it’s still cool to stay up late, remember that your skin suffers every time you do it. Sometimes, even your best efforts to get enough sleep won’t work and for those times, hydrating from the inside and using quality skin care products on the outside can help balance things out. Ideally though, you should aim to get the sleep your body needs for your skin’s health, and your overall health too.