Ask any new mum, menopausal woman with night flushes or insomnia sufferer and they’ll tell you that lack of sleep is rough on your body and your mind. But can lack of sleep actually cause premature ageing too?
Sleep deprivation has been linked to a wide range of problems from mood swings, lack of motivation and food cravings to a weakened immune system, mental health problems and even cardiovascular disease.
But what about your skin? Is beauty sleep a myth or does a lack of sleep cause havoc with your skin and accelerate premature ageing?
Does Lack of Sleep Really Affect Your Skin?
Ever wondered why when you’re tired your skin looks as dry and lifeless as you feel? It’s not all in your head.
Research is showing that sleep deprivation could actually play an active role in premature ageing of the skin.
In 2013, Estée Lauder commission a study that found that not getting enough sleep could increase fine lines and wrinkles as well as causing more visible skin pigmentation.
The study followed 60 pre-menopausal women between the ages of 30-49 over some time. Half of them struggled to get adequate sleep.
The results showed that the women who didn’t get their “beauty sleep” showed more noticeable signs of premature ageing when compared to their better-rested counterparts.
Another study by UCLA researchers showed that just a single night of poor sleep was all it took to encourage cellular ageing in older adults – so yes – if you think you looked older after that one big night out you may well be right!
Why Does Beauty Sleep Matter?
Sleep is important for many things – one of which is repair, regeneration and growth. While you’re asleep your body completes its repair and maintenance, creating new, healthy cells; strengthening existing cells and removing dead and damaged cells.
If you don’t get enough sleep, your body can’t complete all the necessary repairs, which can leave your skin looking dull, lacklustre and, in time, lead to premature ageing.
But that’s not the only reason beauty sleep matters…
The Cortisol Cycle
When you think of cortisol you probably think of it as the “stress hormone” – and that’s correct. It is the hormone that plays a big part in your fight or flight system – but it’s also important to help regulate your sleep cycle too.
Working in synergy with melatonin (the hormone that helps you to sleep), cortisol helps balance your sleep schedule.
Cortisol levels are highest just before waking in the morning to make you feel more awake and alert. As the day goes on, your levels will fluctuate but they slowly decline towards evening and are lowest around 12am. As cortisol decreases, melatonin increases to make us tired and sleepy, ready for bedtime.
But it doesn’t take much to upset this careful hormone balance. If you’re constantly stressed then cortisol levels can remain elevated in the evening. This can leave us feeling tired but wired and makes falling asleep almost impossible.
This is terrible news for your skin. You see, stress increases cortisol and high levels of cortisol increase inflammation. Inflammation accelerates premature ageing, breaking down collagen and elastin and speeding up the formation of wrinkles.
Increased cortisol also causes insulin resistance which results in higher levels of sugar in the blood. This leads to the formation of Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) which damages the protein fibres in our body’s.
Unfortunately, collagen and elastin are two protein fibres that are very susceptible to glycation damage. When these become damaged our skin quickly deteriorates, leading to sagging, loss of firmness and structure, wrinkles and crepy appearance.
It’s not only cortisol that can increase inflammation in the body – lack of sleep can too.
Inflammation is actually a very useful part of your immune system – keeping germs at bay and infections under control. But when there’s too much inflammation it can start to have a negative effect on your body – and your skin.
Chronic inflammation can damage your collagen and elastin cells, increasing the signs of premature ageing and making your skin look more wrinkled, saggy or aged.
Studies have shown that lack of sleep increases the inflammation in the body, increasing your risk of chronic inflammation and the premature ageing that can come with it.
How To Improve Your Sleep?
So with sleep playing such a huge role in premature ageing what can you do if you’re not getting enough? There are some simple things you can do to help get that beauty sleep you need…
Get Into a Good Routine
While it’s tempting to “catch up” on your sleep at the weekend having a strict sleep routine is one of the most impactful things you can do to improve your sleep.
Your body’s circadian rhythm tells you when to sleep and when to wake – it likes routine. By going to bed and getting up at the same time every day you’ll train your circadian rhythm to sleep at night and wake in the morning.
Switch Off The Screens
Watching tv before bed? Reading on the Kindle app? Scrolling through Facebook in bed? The blue light emitted from your devices could be interfering with your ability to get to sleep and the overall quality of your sleep.
The blue light has a stimulating effect on the brain, preventing it from settling down and preparing for sleep.
Blue light filtering glasses are one solution, but just putting the screens away an hour or so before bed could have a really positive effect on your sleep – and your relationships too.
If you are interested in investing in blue light filtering glasses to wear during the evening, I can definitely recommend BluBlox glasses from Australia.
Most people know that drinking caffeinated drinks in the evening can prevent you from falling asleep, but did you know that it can cause you to wake in the night too?
Many people think that if they can fall asleep at bedtime, then caffeine isn’t the culprit – but research shows otherwise.
If you’re struggling to sleep properly then try cutting out the caffeine – it might be rough for a few days but you’ll sleep better, feel healthier and have more stable energy throughout the day too.
Herbal teas can help you to relax, unwind and even help you to fall asleep. Teas like chamomile, lavender and passionflower are all gentle sleep aides. They won’t make you feel drowsy like sleeping tablets can but they’ll help you drift off into a peaceful slumber.
If you want something with a little more kick to it, then valerian might be a good option. Valerian is a powerful herb that can help you fall into a deeper level of sleep – but be sure not to drink it before driving!
Struggling With Ageing Skin?
If you’re struggling to get your beauty sleep and you’re starting to see premature ageing on your skin don’t panic! There are some really amazing, non-surgical anti-ageing treatments that can help you.
Here at The Body Clinic, we help women (and men!) to combat the signs of premature ageing – rejuvenating, refreshing and regenerating their skin with the latest aesthetic treatments such as the HIFU Non-Surgical Face Lift, Microneedling and Chemical Skin Peels.
If you’re struggling with premature ageing, don’t let it get you down – we can help. Just give us a call on 01562 275001 or book a consultation now.