Has someone told you that you look like you need some beauty sleep? Perhaps, the dark circles around your eyes and your drab-looking skin gave you away. Poor sleep, after all, does make one appear less attractive to others, according to a Swedish study published in the medical journal Royal Society Open Science in 2017.
It is no secret that sleep is essential for anyone’s health and well-being. Not only does sleep help the brain consolidate memories, but it also plays a key role in restoring and rejuvenating the body for the next day. Statistics, however, show that one in three American adults are sleep-deprived. Unfortunately, insufficient sleep can take an immediate toll on your appearance, as revealed by Swedish researchers.
Poor Sleep Makes You Look Less Attractive
Led by Dr. Tina Sundelin, the researchers asked 25 healthy men and women to join the sleep experiment. They required each participant to snooze for eight hours on two consecutive nights. The participants also received a kit that would measure their nighttime movements to make sure that they had not cheated and slept more than the required number of hours.
After two nights, the participants had their photograph taken. The researchers instructed them to don a gray t-shirt, have their hair pulled back and away from their faces, and wear no makeup.
A week later, the researchers asked the participants to restrict themselves to only four hours of sleep per night for two nights in a row. They had another makeup-free photo shoot after.
Next, the researchers recruited another group of adults — 122 men and women — to serve as “raters”. The researchers showed photos of the study participants to the raters, asking them to rate the person in each photo in terms of health and attractiveness.
The study found that the raters considered the participants less healthy and less attractive following sleep restriction than when they were well rested. It also noted that the raters were less willing to socialize with those participants who looked sleep-deprived. Above all, the study confirmed that the idea of beauty sleep is, indeed, a real thing.
But what exactly happens when you sleep for seven to nine hours that makes you look more attractive?
- Skin Cells Regenerate While You Sleep
When you sleep, your mind is at ease and you can easily forget the troubles of your day. For skin, sleep has the similar effect. It gets to have a break from battling harsh elements all day, such as the sun’s harmful UV rays, air pollution, and more.
More importantly, when you sleep, your skin cells rejuvenate. Cell mitosis or cell division that renews and repairs skin cells effectively occurs during deep sleep. Now, when you do not get enough sleep, your skin will have a decreased ability to repair itself. This, of course, leads to a weak skin that is more vulnerable to daily environmental stressors.
- Complete Sleep Boosts Collagen Production
It is no longer a secret that collagen is a key to flawless, youthful skin. During the third and fourth restorative cycles of sleep, your body is stimulated to make new collagen, keeping your skin looking fresh, firm, and young. A complete sleep cycle takes an average of 90 to 110 minutes, so if you only get three to four hours of sleep per night, you fail to reach the third and fourth cycles in which collagen production is at its peak.
In addition, after the age of 30, the body’s collagen production naturally declines. This causes unwanted wrinkles on your face. So, if you’re 30 and above, make sure you get seven to nine hours of sleep every night.
- Blood Flow to the Skin Increases When You Snooze
To assist the natural repair processes in your skin cells, your body increases the blood flow to your skin. This process breathes new life into your skin and gives your complexion a glow. Of course, when you don’t often get a full rest at night, the blood flow to your skin doesn’t increase as much as it needs to. If people keep noticing your drab and dull-looking skin, perhaps all you need is to hit the bed early and snooze for seven to nine hours each night.
- A Full Night’s Sleep Keeps Your Cortisol Level in Check
Often called “stress hormone,” cortisol is excessively released during times of stress, increasing your heart rate, blood glucose, and blood pressure. However, cortisol does so much more than that. Most bodily cells have cortisol receptors. Cortisol affects many functions in your body. It helps regulate metabolism, control blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, and more.
Naturally, your cortisol level is high during the day. It gradually decreases throughout the day, until it reaches its lowest level late in the evening, when you’re ready to go to dreamland. Now when you often lack sleep, the normal cortisol production of your body is disrupted. Elevated cortisol levels put your skin in a pro-inflammatory state. It is the reason you have breakouts, sullen skin, and puffed eyes when you’re sleep-deprived.
- Skin Temperature Changes at Night
When you’re at sleep stage, especially during the latter sleep cycles, your skin becomes slightly hotter and loses moisture. This can contribute tohtt drier skin and even infection especially if you don’t sleep on breathable pillows and beddings. That is why dermatologists usually recommend putting on moisturizing cream before sleeping.
Another way to look at this is that your skin is more receptive to skincare products during the latter sleep cycles. So, if you follow skincare routines to rehydrate and refresh your skin, it is best when you get complete hours or cycles of sleep every night.
Living in today’s fast-paced world doesn’t mean you have to rush everything you do. Remember to spend more time on things that greatly matter — such as sleep. Now that you know that beauty sleep isn’t a myth, consider this as one more reason to hit the sack early and get enough shut-eye each night.