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Sleep your way to better skin

Sleep your way to better skin

It’s no secret that sleep is vital to our overall health and well being. From mental health to how attractive we are to others, all of this is impacted by sleep.

If you want to read more about the overall benefits of sleep, you can do that here.

When we talk about sleep, what can often be overlooked is the effects it can have on your skin.

Some of the most obvious signs of a poor night’s sleep come from our skin. From dark circles under the eyes to dull lifeless skin on our face.

As the largest organ in the body, our skin relies on a good nights sleep and no amount of moisturiser or serum is going to offset the damage caused by constant poor sleep.

When we talk about sleep, what can often be overlooked is the effects it can have on your skin.

Dark circles under the eyes, dry patches, and lifeless, dull skin are some of the more visible signs that someone’s not catching as many Z’s as they need.

Let’s explore what happens to the skin overnight and why you can’t afford to miss this essential skincare step.

Your skin regenerates while you sleep

The Circadian rhythms dictate how our body acts biologically during the day and night. Essentially how the body’s biological clock responds to light and dark [1]

During the day, our skin is working hard to protect us from the damage that can be incurred by the external environment.

Things like UV rays, free radicals and pollution all have the potential to do our skin harm, so it’s a primary focus throughout the day is protection.

At night, our skin has a chance to recover and work to release hormones that can repair any damage done throughout the day.

Melatonin is produced when our optic nerve singles that it’s nighttime.

The first thing to note is that Melatonin is produced when we sleep. Melatonin is crucial for the maintenance and upkeep of our skin.

It ‘contains powerful anti-aging properties. Several studies have revealed that melatonin is crucial in mitigating the clinical signs of skin aging.’[2]

It goes on to say ‘Melatonin is a molecule that can break through lipid skin barriers, reduce oxidative stress, modify mitochondria function, reduce inflammation, and affect the expression of certain genes.

Consequently, melatonin has excellent beneficial antiaging effects on the skin, whose visible expression is a reduction in wrinkle formation.’[3]

Melatonin is produced when our optic nerve singles that it’s nighttime. That’s why sleep for your skin is so important, this wonder molecule won’t be produced during the day and is at it’s most effective during the evening.

Human Growth Hormone

The human growth hormone (HGH) is also released when we sleep. HGH can help to regulate body composition, body fluids, muscle and bone growth.

HGH helps repair and regenerate skin cells to reduce wrinkles and firm up sagging skin.

‘In both humans and mice, elevation of GH levels into the supranormal (pathological) range is associated with increased disease risks and reduced life expectancy likely representing an acceleration of aging.’[4]

Hormone cortisol reduces while we sleep

Cortisol is a steroid hormone made by the adrenal glands.

It is responsible for regulating a number of functions in the body, including but not limited to, blood sugar levels, regulating metabolism, blood pressure, controlling salt and water balance, stress and even influencing memory formation.

Importantly for our topic, more cortisol is released when we are stressed [5]. Our bodies react to stress in both a mental and physical response.

’Threats that do not require a physical response (e.g., academic exams) may therefore have physical consequences, including changes in the immune system.’[6]

In today’s world stress can come from an angry text, public transport or simply looking at your bank account after a night out.

Constant stress means more Cortisol, which can in turn cause damage to our skin. When we’ve constantly stressed cortisol puts our sebaceous (oil glands) into overdrive, producing more oil than necessary. This can lead to breakouts from clogged pores.

Stress also affects our immune system, constant chronic stress ‘induced changes in the immune system have meaningful implications for disease susceptibility in otherwise healthy humans’[7]

When we sleep, we reduce the stimuli that help to produce Cortisol. Sleep allows both our body and our mind a retreat from the constant stress of the world.

The reduced Cortisol gives our skin a chance to rest and recover and wake up ready to take on the next, hopefully not too much, stress-filled day.

Escape the sun

Notice how you never need sunscreen at night? Just as we want to give our body a break from stress, we also want to give it some respite from the environmental stressors it encounters throughout the day while we’re out and about. 

One of the main causes of looking older is overexposure to the sun. For Australians, the pursuit of the sweet tan leads us to expose our faces to a lot of potential damage, via the suns harmful UV Rays.

The sun’s harmful UV-Rays cause age spots, wrinkles, and in the worst-case scenario, skin cancer.

Sun is one of the primary causes of premature skin aging.

Urban environments also play a big role in the health of your skin. Air pollution is the result of gases or particles that are in the air as a result of human activities, think anything from car exhaust to power plants.

Polluted air makes it hard for your skin to breathe, as it clogs pores, making the skin irritated and dehydrated. This combined with exposure to UV-rays greatly speeds up fine lines and wrinkles on the skin.

Once again, good old sleep provides an escape from the external stresses on our bodies. It gives our skin the precious time it needs to rest and rejuvenate. The more sleep you have, the more effective the process will be, so aim to get a minimum of 07 hours of sleep and be in bed around 10 pm.


Like most things in life, ignoring your health comes to your detriment, and your skin is no different.

One of the best skin care routines you can have is to look after your health and your health is heavily linked to the amount of sleep you do or do not get.

 ‘Sleep disruptions have substantial adverse short- and long-term health consequences[8]

So how much sleep do you get, do you notice a difference in your skin after a bad nights sleep?  

As always, let us know below

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