How Lack of Sleep Affects the Skin

We’ve all heard about the importance of sleep for the body and health. It has important physiological effects on both the brain and the body. But how does lack of sleep affect the skin?

woman sleepin

Several studies have found that sleep deprivation can damage the immune system, increase fine lines on the face, decrease collagen, increase uneven pigmentation, cause dry skin, and even decrease our perception of attractiveness.  Lets look closer at some of the factors involved.

Growth Hormone. Growth hormone is a natural hormone secreted by the pituitary gland. It is secreted during deep sleep or slow wave sleep and is important for cellular and tissue repair processes as well as collagen production. Sleep deprivation decreases the secretion of growth hormone and thus skin repair.

Skin Barrier Function. The skin barrier function is one of the most important roles of skin. It helps keep water in the body and helps keep the outer environment out of the skin. Studies have found that lack of sleep can decrease the skin barrier function and lead to water loss from the skin. This can also potentially increase the risk of further skin damage or infection.

Cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone secreted by the adrenal glands. It is also increased with lack of  sleep. Cortisol can breakdown collagen in the skin causing the skin to be more fragile and lead to increased wrinkles.

Immune System. Lack of sleep has also been found to decrease our immune response. This is not only important for the role of skin but also makes us more prone to colds and flu.

Recovery. One study looked at the time it took the skin to recover from ultraviolet induced skin damage. In sleep deprived individuals this recovery time was increased.

Melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland. Its levels increase during the dark hours of sleep. It acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent in the body.

Decreased sleep can also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and other diseases.

Now I hope these facts don’t stress you out making it more difficult to sleep. Read my next blog on the role of melatonin with tips for getting better sleep.

References for more information on sleep and beauty:

Sleep deprivation linked to aging skin, study suggests. Science Daily

Oyetakin White P, Koo B, Matsui MS, Yarosh D, Fthenakis C, Cooper KD, Baron ED. Effects of Sleep Quality on Skin Aging and Function. International Investigative Dermatology Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland 2013

Axelsson J1, Sundelin T, Ingre M, Van Someren EJ, Olsson A, Lekander M.
Beauty sleep: experimental study on the perceived health and attractiveness of sleep deprived people. British Medical Journal. 2010 Dec 14;341:c6614. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c6614.

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