Surely, most of you, if not all, have read the classic fairy tale ‘Sleeping Beauty’. However, not many are aware that sleeping and beauty are related in more ways than just this enchanting tale. Apart from the positive impact of sleep on multiple systems in the human body, adequate sleep plays a crucial role in skin health and limiting the signs of aging. Simply put, if you sleep better, you will look and feel younger.
Skin health is dependent on several internal and external factors. With the change in lifestyles, there is a trend towards poor skin health seen today. As a result, premature signs of aging are becoming increasingly common.
Aging is a process that is most obviously depicted through one’s skin. To combat this, various strategies are adopted, including the use of cosmetics, dermatological procedures, etc. However, one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways of limiting skin aging is by ensuring* adequate sleep.
How does Sleep Prevent Skin Aging?
Secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, melanin regulates the circadian rhythm (sleep-wakefulness cycle) of the body. Known as the ‘hormone of darkness’, melanin is produced in greater quantities in the dark. This hormone is important as an anti-skin aging agent because of its multiple effects.
It acts as an antioxidant and prevents free radical damage and damage from ultraviolet radiation. It also stimulates the growth of fibroblasts that produce collagen and elastin in the skin. Melatonin also affects the skin tone color. Decreased* melatonin levels reduce* skin thickness, making it increasingly prone to damage. Melatonin also plays a role in wound healing and prevents scar formation.
If your normal sleep-wake times are disrupted, or you are exposed to light for long periods at night, the melatonin production diminishes* significantly. Thus, adequate sleep and maintenance of the circadian cycle is essential for normal production of melatonin.
Additionally, few of the other hormones also play a role in the anti-aging properties of sleep. The secretion of hormones, mainly thyroid hormone, growth hormone, cortisol, and testosterone is regulated during the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase of sleep. These hormones affect the body’s constitution and play a role in repair and metabolism. Any disruption in these hormonal levels also impacts skin health. Melatonin too plays a role in regulation of the secretion of these hormones.
Sleep and Skin Health – The Evidence
The association between sleep and skin health has been studied extensively by several researchers. They have demonstrated that sleep deprivation leads to the development of signs of skin aging. One investigational study demonstrated that disturbed sleep leads to change in parameters of skin color, along with an appearance of tiredness.
Effects of Sleep on Skin Appearance
As mentioned above, the quality, as well as quantity of sleep, have a direct effect on your appearance. However, the good news is that by making small changes in your lifestyle, you can get enough hours of sleep every night, and ensure better-looking skin.
Some visibly noticeable skin-related benefits of sleeping well include the following:
1. Appearance of fewer wrinkles
Adequate amount of sleep leads to production of collagen, which prevents aging and wrinkle formation. Collagen, elastin, and other such proteins give strength to the skin, and reduce* the probability of wrinkling.
2. Healthy, glowing skin
The dull-looking skin after not sleeping properly has been experienced by everyone at some point in their lives. While sleeping, there is an increase* in blood flow to certain organs, including the skin. This allows for a healthy glow on your face even after you wake up from an good night’s rest.
3. Reduction* in puffiness and dark circles under eyes
Along with staying hydrated, getting enough sleep at night helps to prevent puffiness and appearance of dark circles under the eyes. Dark circles can be influenced by many other factors too and are not only dependent on sleep.
4. Improved* hair
Sleep deprivation can significantly affect your hair growth and lead to hair damage and hair fall. This happens because of multiple mechanisms, including reduced* blood flow, a section of the stress hormone cortisol, etc.
Adequate sleep is essential for normal functioning of the human body. Moreover, the anti-aging properties of sleep are an added incentive to ensure that you prioritize your beauty sleep despite the busy lifestyle.
Improving* sleep quality as well as quantity can go a long way in the maintenance of healthy skin. Make small but significant changes from today and make the most of the night after a hard day’s work. Sleep well!
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