The Impact of Sleep on Your Skin

You know that a good night's sleep gives you the energy you need to get through the day and function at your best. You may also know that getting enough rest can help you manage your stress and reduce your risk for serious health problems like obesity, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.

What you might not realize? Sleep can have a big effect on your appearance. Here's how too little shuteye can wreck your skin and your appearance overall--and how logging enough hours at rest can help you look your best.

Why sleep deprivation makes you look bad

Once you drift off into dreamland each night, your brain starts going into repair mode. It clears out all the junk--like extra proteins--that accumulates during the daytime. So when you wake up the next morning, you can think and function more clearly.

But your brain isn't the only thing that performs major maintenance while you sleep. So does the rest of your body--including your skin. During snooze time, your body is hard at work building fresh, healthy cells to replace ones that are older or damaged.

Those cells in your skin and throughout your body need sleep to function at their best. And when you don't log enough hours, it's harder for those new skin cells to grow. Over time, that can make your face start to look ashen and wrinkled.

And that's just the beginning. Too little shuteye causes the blood vessels in your body to expand. That causes blood to pool and settle under your eyes--resulting in the dark, puffy circles, the classic giveaway of not getting enough sleep.

Couple that with red or glassy eyes and that blank, spaced-out look most of us get after we've been up all night, and you can see how sleep deprivation can leave you looking far from your best.

And it can all start to happen after just one or two nights of poor sleep. When skimping on sleep becomes an everyday thing, you run the risk of gaining weight, getting sick, and even becoming depressed. None of which will do great things for your appearance.

How getting enough sleep helps your skin

By now, you're probably convinced that not sleeping enough can do a number on your skin and your appearance. The good news? When you make sleep a priority, you don't just neutralize those negative effects. You're actually giving your body the tools that it needs to look your best.

Here's a rundown of some of the big beautiful benefits that come with getting a healthy amount sleep on the regular:

  • Plumper, smoother skin. Human growth hormone is essential for stimulating the production of collagen, the protein that helps your skin stay supple, elastic, and wrinkle-free. (Or at least, less wrinkled). Your body only pumps out human growth hormone while you're asleep.
  • Brighter skin and less acne. Old skin cells can make your complexion look duller. They can also clog your pores and cause breakouts. Sleep is the thing your skin needs to build new cells--so when you get enough of it, your complexion starts to look clearer and more luminous.
  • Stronger hair and nails. Your skin isn't the only thing that benefits from a healthy supply of collagen. The protein is essential for keeping your hair and nails strong, so they're less prone to breakage, brittleness, or cracking.
  • Clearer eyes that actually look awake. You know that too little sleep can leave you with puffy dark circles and red eyes. But when you get enough shuteye, both of those problems are virtually nonexistent.
  • A healthier weight. You probably don't need to be reminded of the fact that people who get enough sleep tend to weigh less than people who don't. In part, that's because lack of sleep can set you up to crave unhealthy foods like sugary and refined carbs. Those can be bad for your waistline, but that's not all. Junk foods can promote inflammation in the body, and the lack of healthy nutrients can also end up leaving skin looking less than youthful.
  • A happier disposition. All that stress and irritability that comes from not sleeping can show up on your face. But when you feel your best, you're more likely to look your best, too.

How to get enough sleep to look your best

Experts say that adults should strive for seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night. That's enough time to help you feel energized and focused--and enough time for your body to do the important repair work to help your skin look youthful and refreshed. Here's a good rule of thumb to remember: If the amount of sleep you're getting makes you feel good, it's probably enough to help you look good, too.

That's not to say that trying to get more than the recommended amount of sleep will help your skin look even better. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Spending too much time sleeping can actually cause skin cells to break down too quickly--which can lead to many of the same cosmetic problems as not sleeping enough.

Also, remember that quality is just as important as quantity. Seven, eight, or even nine hours of sleep isn't worth much if you're spending half the night tossing and turning. So minimize your intake of alcohol and caffeine before bed--both of which can result in fragmented sleep and lead to dry, dull skin.

Finally, take steps to block out distractions. Use blackout shade or an eye mask to block out sleep-stealing light, and wear earplugs if you live in a noisy environment. If you have a pet who loves to be active in the middle of the night, consider moving his bed outside of your room.

Prioritize sleep, and your skin will thank you for it in the morning. And, you'll be ready to face the day with confidence and the knowledge you look your best.

Moe Kittaneh is the CFO and co-founder of Scottsdale, Arizona-based One Mall Group and the founder of Svelta Skincare. He writes about entrepreneurship, making health and fitness a priority, and more.

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