This Is What A Lack Of Sleep Does To Your Skin

We all know what lack of sleep can do to a person’s mood, and let’s be real—it ain’t pretty. But what about the effect it can have on your skin? While you sleep, your body repairs and then prepares itself for the day ahead. When it’s robbed of its ability to do that, your body returns the favour by robbing you of the ability to leave the house without a paper bag over your head. Okay—chances are it’s not that bad. But sleep deprivation really can impact your skin’s health dramatically, and it’s important to know what issues might arise when you skimp on your beauty sleep.

Hello Dark Circles & Bags

Recently, I had to catch an early morning flight with only three hours of sleep under my belt. When the airline staff asked how many bags I was checking in, I said three—the one on the conveyor belt and the two under my eyes. Caused by fluid retention, puffy bags under the eyes occur when tired skin retains water in an effort to stay hydrated. Meanwhile, the dark circles that appear when you’re exhausted are courtesy of the blood vessels under the skin around the eyes dilating from lack of sleep. The skin around your eyes is exceptionally thin, making both the puffiness and darkened colour even more noticeable.

Goodbye Collagen Growth 

While you sleep, your skin produces new collagen. Collagen growth is extremely important as it prevents wrinkles and sagging and premature ageing. But when

you deprive your body of sleep, there’s an increase of matrix metalloproteinases. And what are they exactly, other than really hard to pronounce? Well, Matrix metalloproteinases are a group of enzymes responsible for accelerating collagen and elastin breakdown which then speeds up the aging process. In other words, they are your mortal enemy.

Thirsty AF 

Most of us keep a glass of water next to the bed for when we awake in the morning thirstier than a 2am Tinder swipe. That’s because your body is dehydrated, which can be heightened by other elements like alcohol consumption or hot sleeping environments. When it comes to your skin, sleep deprivation decreases the moisture levels of your skin and lowers your complexion's pH levels. On top of that, if you aren’t sleeping, chances are you aren’t giving your night cream enough time to seep in and work its magic, either.

Sleep Heals All Wounds  

If you are a human who has a mirror in the bathroom, then you have waged war on a pimple before. Usually you attack right before bed, only to retreat from battle moments later nursing a wad of toilet paper and a bruised ego. The good news is that you have a solid 8-9 hours of skin repair ahead of you as you sleep, most likely resulting in a small scab by morning. But if you’re not getting much sleep, your immune system becomes depleted, drastically decreasing the power of the wound healing process whilst also raising the risk of developing infection. Healthy tissue is paramount for wounds to heal, and essential tissue growth happens while you snooze.

Inflaming the Situation 

Speaking of acne, remember naively thinking that bad skin was only a teenager’s problem? Ah, those were the days. If like most of us, you’re still dealing with breakouts and blemishes well into your adult life, your sleep routine could be to blame. Again, lack of sleep affects your immune system, paving the way for inflammation, redness, and breakouts to flourish. Other inflammatory skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea also rely on a healthy immune system to help restore balance and speed up the healing process.

If you are concerned about your health or wellbeing, your first port of call should be your GP, who will be able to advise a correct treatment plan.

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