Every night when we go to sleep, our brain transforms into something quite different from its daytime state. Not only does our brain function differently at night, but our body’s internal clock, which resides in the midbrain, brings about a slew of changes that affect the whole body, including our skin. In this case, we look at how sleep and skin health are related.
In a study commissioned by Estée Lauder, physician scientists at University Hospitals Case Medical Center conducted a variety of skin tests on a volunteer group of women. These women were between 30-49 years old. Half of them were poor sleepers while the other half got enough sleep most nights. The goal was to compare the skin conditions of the poor sleepers with that of the good sleepers. While there has been much anecdotal evidence that links sleep with beauty, this study was the first of its kind to demonstrate this relationship via the scientific method.
Does this mean that if you sleep well you will not get wrinkles? The short answer is “no”. In addition to the “intrinsic aging” mentioned above, there are also “extrinsic aging” factors. These include aging caused by environmental factors, especially sun exposure. Coarse wrinkles and sunburn freckles won’t disappear if you get more sleep, yet the effects of UV radiation can be reduced by avoiding those harmful rays, putting on more sun screen and… sleeping more.
In the same study, the women who slept well had skin that recovered better from environmental stressors. When you get sunburned, the redness that results is a sign of inflammation. The women who didn’t sleep well showed much longer signs of redness after being sunburned, demonstrating that their skin is less effective in resolving inflammation.
UV radiation is not the only environmental stressor out there for our skin. As the shelves replete with facial moisturizers demonstrate, skin dryness is another major enemy to healthy skin. By sticking and then peeling off a piece of tape on the volunteer’s skin, the researchers were able to find out how much water left the skin with the tape. The tape represented a physical insult to the skin, and researchers looked at how well the skin recovered after 72 hours. The women who slept well recovered 14 percent whereas poor quality sleepers’ skin actually got worse by six percent. Those who slept better repaired damage to their skin 20 percent faster than those who did not.
Your brain may be interfering with your sleep when you are over-stimulated by emotional stress, overwork or caffeine. Learning how to relax is essential for brain health and overall well-being. Check out the brain and mind training suggestions on this site to learn more about relaxation programs and techniques. Your skin will thank you for it!