How Your Sleep Habits Affect Your Skin

June 23, 2021

by Amanda Etkind


We all know the importance of some serious shut eye. Not only does clocking in seven to nine hours of sleep each night help us function throughout the day, but your sleep habits (or lack thereof) can take a toll on your complexion, too. If you’ve ever heard of the term “beauty sleep”, well, it’s an actual thing. Sleep—or lack thereof—can affect your skin’s elasticity, tone, and even cause wrinkles to appear. Here, we dive into five key ways sleep can affect your complexion, so you’ll prioritize catching enough ZZZs over your next late-night Netflix binge. 


Sleep Helps Your Skin Recover 

Your body as a whole isn’t the only thing re-upping its energy with a good night’s rest, your skin actually repairs while you’re sound asleep, too. Sleeping is the time when your skin repairs itself from any damage, inflammation, and collagen loss. Dr. Zachary Zeicher, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital, told INSIDER "Lack of sleep may interfere with wound healing, promote inflammation in the skin, and even lead to acne breakouts.” All day, your skin works hard to protect itself from constant attack—shoutout to UV rays, free radicals, and external factors like pollution. Once you wind down and fall asleep, you skin switches into “recovery mode” to repair any damage that was caused during daylight hours, and fun fact: the regeneration process is up to three times faster while you catch your zzz's vs. during your waking hours.


During sleep, your skin’s blood flow increases, and the organ starts to rebuild collagen and fix damage encountered during the day,” says dermatologist Dr. Mona Gohara. “At night, that’s when your skin’s proverbial ‘factory’ is open a la Willy Wonka—collagen is being made, and actives like bakuchiol and peptides are at it, working hard to repair damage from UV exposure, reducing wrinkles and age spots.” Additionally, melatonin is released, which (in addition to making you sleepy) allows your skin to better repair itself overnight. Because all of this is in motion, the products you apply before bedtime have even more impact during this stretch of time. Dr. Gohara advises doing your nighttime skincare routine at least 15 minutes before you go to bed, allowing you to take advantage of the optimal regeneration time, and give the products time to soak in


Lack of Sleep Leads To Skin Dehydration

You probably already knew that skin is the largest organ in our body. It requires care not only top-to-toe, but also inside, and out. That’s why we’re told to get ample hydration throughout the day, eat water-rich foods, and, you guessed it, get enough shut eye. But if you’re not getting that proper amount of sleep your body needs it can actually cause transepidermal water loss( a fancy term for water loss that passes from inside your body through the epidermis to the air) leading to dehydration, irritation, and more. Just like your sunglasses block out the haters,  the skin acts like a shield and locks in hydration. If you don’t get any sleep, your skin may not be able to properly function. 


You May Develop Dark Circles 

While you’re catching that much-need beauty rest,  your body’s cells regenerate. Pretty much anyone will be able to tell if you’re lacking in that department —even with your fave concealer caked on. So if you suffer from darkness under your eyes, your lack of sleep could be a factor (besides, genetics of course, but we’ll tackle that another day) and is typically the number one reason why your blood vessels dilate. If under eye circles are looking particularly blue or purple an easy fix could be adjusting the amount of sleep you’re getting each night.  


Sleep Deprivation Can Cause Wrinkles, and Loss of Elasticity

So many things can lead to those pesky premature wrinkles: sun exposure, smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, etc., but actually sleep is also a major player when it comes to the look of your skin. The Sleep Research Society  published a study  that showed how people look following eight hours sleep versus a period of sleep deprivation and five hours sleep. The results? Participants were observed to have puffiness and more wrinkles, and to look sadder when they were sleep deprived as opposed to when they slept 8+ hours. Additionally, Dr. Debra Jaliman, dermatologist and assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai told INSIDER that, “chronic poor sleep quality can make you look older than you are. A routine lack of rest can increase signs of intrinsic aging, meaning your skin will be more lined and will have more laxity, or looseness.” The Clinical and Experimental Dermatology in 2015 studied the correlation between sleep quality and intrinsic aging among 60 women. While limited, the study showed that those who slept seven to nine hours had a much lower intrinsic aging score than those who clocked in less. 


If you need a reason to prioritize sleep, consider this a sign. We hope this will encourage you to put your phones down, turn off the TV, and get that necessary shut eye your skin needs to look its very best.