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Why You Need Sleep for Healthy Skin

The importance of de-stressing and getting enough sleep should hardly be news to anyone who’s ever heard the term “self-care”. And yet, in our culture where we seem to compete to be the busiest and most overworked, too often we wear “sleep-deprived” like a badge of honor.

If healthy skin is a high priority for you, choosing the right skin care products and sticking to your daily regimen is only part of the equation. One of the most important factors in maintaining healthy, beautiful skin is as simple as a good night's sleep. Let’s get a refresher on the skin benefits of getting in your full eight hours.


So I don’t always get enough sleep. How bad can it be?

When you're sleep-deprived, your body pumps out more of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases inflammatory responses. If you're already suffering from a skin issue like acne or psoriasis, increased inflammation makes it worse. But even if you're not, inflammation breaks down collagen and hyaluronic acid, two crucial components of skin's firmness and brightness.

Your kidneys function better in a deeply relaxed state to flush out excess water. If you’re not getting enough sleep, or it’s not restful enough, you can end up retaining enough water to leave you looking puffy when you get up. At the same time, sleep balances and replenishes your skin’s hydration, so not getting enough can also lower your skin’s pH and leave your complexion dry and dull.

Without the circulation boost from sleep, your blood vessels dilate, leading to dark under-eye circles and blotchiness. Lack of sleep also increases oxidative stress on cells (the same free radical process that causes apple slices to turn brown) and depletes rather than refreshes your skin’s natural antioxidants.


Making your skin’s night shift work for you

Your body needs deep sleep before it kicks into its most efficient healing and regulating modes to replenish your skin, releasing growth hormones for cell repair and increasing blood flow to all tissues. The receptors in your dermis become better able to pull proteins from your blood to create new collagen. Melatonin levels rise during the night hours, providing powerful antioxidant benefits to your skin and body.

Because of this shift in your body's functions, you can also make the most of your bedtime by coordinating your skin care regimen with your biological clock. Here are a few tips:

  • Nighttime is the right time for products containing retinol, which is quickly degraded by sunlight.
  • If you use AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) for gentle exfoliation, you might prefer to use them at night, because they can leave your skin more sensitive to sunlight.
  • Even though your skin is rehydrating from within, your face rubbing against your pillow can rob moisture from the outer layers of your skin. A slightly richer, night-formulated moisturizer will boost your skin’s barrier function and offer protection against dryness or flakiness. Obagi’s Hydrate Luxe, true to its name, is a luxuriously nourishing nighttime moisturizer to lock in hydration.
  • Any products that boost skin repair will also be more effective at night, when they don’t have to compete against UV rays, pollution, stress reactions, caffeine, and other skin-damaging factors. For tired eyes, SkinMedica’s TNS Eye Repair is a powerhouse that reduces the appearance of dark circles and fine lines, firms up that delicate skin, and works with your natural sleep repair to let you look bright-eyed when you get out of bed.
  • A nighttime product with antioxidant benefits works together with your body’s melatonin spike to prepare you to face off against free radicals during the daytime. Try SkinCeuticals’ Resveratrol B E for a potent sip of protection from the hero ingredient resveratrol, derived from grape skins and red wine.



(Want to wake up to flirt-worthy lashes even without mascara? Latisse® lash growth serum, the only FDA-approved product for increasing the length and fullness of eyelashes, also works while you sleep.)

Make your skin care regimen part of an overall lifestyle plan that supports good health and long life, and see how well regular sound sleep partners with your products to deliver a gorgeous natural glow. Feeling confident enough to face the day with nothing but a solid SPF between your complexion and the elements will feel like a dream come true!

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