Updated: May 13
We have all encountered a sleepless night or two. Some of you may even know the misery of chronic insomnia. Upon waking we look in the mirror and are traumatized by what we see: puffy eyes, dark-circles, droopy eyelids, and sallow skin. To add insult to injury, more wrinkles may be visible due to tossing and turning. When it's just one night, it's relatively easy to recover. But poor sleep for a prolonged time is a recipe for disaster.
There are three hormones that are affected when we don't get adequate amounts of sleep. These are cortisol, growth hormone, and melatonin, and they all have a direct effect on how our skin ages.
Cortisol is our stress response hormone. When we are not sleeping well, we're like a battery that does not have the chance to recharge. Our body identifies this a stressful situation and starts producing cortisol. Like a jolt of caffeine form a morning coffee, this spike in cortisol keeps us moving, but at a cost. Elevated cortisol levels break down collagen, resulting in less skin elasticity.
Growth hormone is responsible for building muscle, bone, and tissue-including skin. It is one of our anti-aging hormones and replenishes as we sleep, rehydrating the skin and allowing for cellular repair.
Last but not least is melatonin. This is our sleep hormone, and it plays a role in the immune system. It is a significant contributor to the functional and physical integrity of our skin. Without quality sleep, growth hormone and melatonin are not produced in sufficient quantities, while cortisol is overproduced. The result is overall poor skin condition, including dryness, dullness, fine lines, and wrinkles.
If these aren’t reasons to try to achieve god sleep hygiene, then how about the way you position your face on your pillow? Some dermatologists say that women who sleep on their side tend to develop wrinkles in their cheeks, while men will tend to develop wrinkles on their forehead (Note: I have certainly observed this with my clients) It is believed that sleeping on your back will avoid the risk of "sleep lines".
Melatonin supplements are available over the counter in the United States, but are prescription only in many other countries. Growth hormone supplementation is prescription-only and controversial in many ways, especially for its use in sports. For most people, it's far better to let the body regulate its hormones in a natural way.
So get your beauty sleep-at least six to eight uninterrupted hours every night-to achieve radiant healthier looking skin.