How Sleep Deprivation Messes With Your Skin

Alexandra Duron

sleep deprivation

We’re all guilty of skimping on sleep, whether it’s pulling an all-nighter before a big day at work or staying out ’til the wee hours of the morning. No matter the reason for it, one thing’s certain: The next day is not going to be fun. Sure, we can easily fake a good night’s sleep with some genius makeup tricks, but not getting enough shuteye can do more damage than just leaving us with dark under eye circles.

To find out what really happens to our skin when we don’t get in a full eight hours, we talked to Hal Alpert, M.D., a sleep specialist in New York City. Below, he expains what’s going on with sleep deprivation, plus what to do to get a full night’s rest.

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“If you’re not sleeping enough, your skin will suffer,” Dr. Alpert says . And that means speeding up the aging process, drying it out and more. Basically, getting enough Zzz’s is important for skin function, he says. Being sleep deprived throws two important hormones—cortisol and growth hormone—out of whack. Cortisol, a stress hormone, increases while growth hormone, which helps thicken your skin and maintain its moisture, decreases.
So what does that mean for your complexion? When cortisol increases, collagen (which helps protect your skin from UV damage) production decreases, leading to weaker skin and wrinkles. Plus, cortisol can also cause acne and trigger certain skin conditions, like eczema and psoriasis—or make existing outbreaks worse. The change in growth hormone caused by a shorter snooze session can lead to dehydrated skin, more pronounced lines and a sallow complexion. Not exactly the formula for the glowing skin of your dreams.

The bottom line: Getting your beauty rest is well worth it! At the very least, we should try to get six hours of sleep per night, says Alpert. So slip on your eye masks and slide under the covers a little sooner (and stay there a little longer!) to keep your skin healthy, youthful and gorgeous.

Image via Istock