The Truth about “Beauty Sleep.”

As the holiday season rapidly approaches, most of us find ourselves wishing for a few more hours in each day. When the “to-do” list seems to be growing by the second, it can be tempting to sacrifice one of the most important components of youthful-looking skin: sleep. Early morning Black Friday shopping and holiday parties that extend far past bedtime can cause disturbances in your normal sleeping patterns, leading to sleep deprivation.

How important can an adequate amount of sleep be to your skin? According to a recent study conducted at University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center, “poor sleepers had increased signs of skin aging and slower recovery from a variety of environmental stressors, such as disruption of the skin barrier or ultraviolet (UV) radiation.” What does this mean for you and your skin? Simply put, the women in the study who were determined to be “poor quality sleepers” showed increased signs of fine lines and wrinkles, a reduction in skin elasticity, and uneven pigmentation. However, those determined to be “good quality sleepers” exhibited a more efficient recovery from sources of stress in our daily environment, such as sun and toxin exposure.

Much like major highway repairs done at night, our bodies use sleep as a tool to repair the major damage done to our skin during the day. When we rob our bodies of a few precious hours of sleep, this critical repair time is cut short; the effects of this can be premature aging and dull, lifeless skin, just in time for those family Christmas pictures.

How can you get a better night’s sleep?

  • Stick to a routine. Go to sleep at the same time each night, and wake up at the same time each morning (yes, even on the weekends.) This will allow your body to maintain consistent sleep cycles in which the repairs can be done.
  • Don’t overdo the alcohol. Alcohol not only interrupts your sleep cycles, but also causes dehydration, which is your one of your skin’s worst enemies. Limit yourself to just a few; also, for each alcoholic beverage you consume, drink one glass of water.
  • Make your bedroom sleep-friendly. Eliminate the sounds of your neighborhood with a soothing sound machine or sleep app on your phone. Keep your room cool and your bed comfortable. Most importantly, turn off the television.