Sleep and Aging - What's The Conncetion?

We all know that we should be getting at least eight hours of sleep every night but it isn’t always as easy as it sounds. 

However, could your lack of rest actually be contributing to those signs of premature aging? If you’ve noticed crow’s feet, wrinkles and eye bags appearing when you look in the mirror every morning, it’s time to take a closer look at your sleep habits.

How Does Poor Sleep Impact On Skin Aging?

There are several signs of aging which are exacerbated by poor quality sleep. These include:

  • Drooping eyelids

  • Dark circles under the eyes

  • Swollen eyes

  • Pale skin

  • More fine lines and wrinkles

  • Drooping at the corners of the mouth

Just two nights of poor quality sleep lead to these signs of aging beginning to develop.

The Worrying Statistics

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) have discovered that 35.3% of people sleep under 7 hours in any given 24 hour period. As many as 37.9% of people even fall asleep unintentionally during the day. 

It stands to reason, then, that many of us are extremely tired and are suffering from insufficient sleep. Most of us are aware of the physical health problems that can be caused by a lack of shuteye. 

Heart disease, obesity, diabetes and depression have all been linked to poor quality rest. However, few of us are aware that it causes major skin problems too, including the signs of aging.

High Cortisol Levels Cause Skin Problems

When you don’t get enough sleep, too much cortisol is produced by the body. That means that the skin becomes stressed and breakouts occur. 

When we get enough sleep, the natural levels of cortisol in the body decrease. This helps the skin to protect and regenerate itself. 

However, the cycle becomes disrupted if you miss out on too much sleep. When cortisol levels remain high all the time, the body stops healing properly and acne breakouts can be triggered.

High levels of cortisol also cause collagen in the body to break down. This protein is responsible for keeping the skin looking fresh and young. It also causes damage to the elastic tissues. This results in the signs of premature aging. 

Not only that, but the body is unable to produce sufficient HGH (Human Growth Hormone) if it gets insufficient amounts of sleep. HGH is essential to stimulate new cell production, and without it, the skin is thinner. 

When fresh new cells cannot be produced in time to repair the damage that is being caused, aging accelerates. The collagen prematurely stiffens and wrinkles and fine lines appear.

Weakening Of The Body’s Defense System

During our sleep, the skin cells speed up their production of antioxidants which have a protective function. Antioxidants are essential for reducing the damage caused to the skin from free radicals in UV rays. 

Although we can consume more antioxidants in our diet through eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and we can even apply antioxidant skin products to our skin, it’s best to give your body the protection is needs by getting enough sleep.

A Lack Of Hydration

When you don’t get enough sleep, your skin also becomes dehydrated. Poor quality rest promotes inflammation as well as causing dysfunctions in the skin barrier and as a result, the skin becomes starved of water. The less sleep you get, the more your face will become dried out. 

As well as getting more sleep, you can use plumping and hydrating skin products which contain hyaluronic acid to restore that much-needed moisture, but sleep is still important. Without enough rest, your eyes become more swollen, dark circles start to form and the skin becomes paler. All of this adds to the signs of premature aging to make you look older than you really are.

Sleep More For Better Skin

Although the statistics make worrying reading, there’s no need to panic about your prematurely aging skin just yet. The good news is that if you can get more sleep and also improve your quality of sleep on a nightly basis, you can reduce those tell-tale signs of aging and enjoy a more youthful, bright complexion. 

Here are some top tips to get you started with your new sleeping regime:

  • Get at least eight and preferably more hours of sleep each night.

  • Wash your face every night before bed to remove makeup, extra oil and dirt. This will reduce the size of pores and help to prevent dry skin, rashes, inflammation, acne outbreaks and infections.

  • Apply a moisturizer for overnight use or a sleeping mask for an extra boost for your skin. This will help to nourish your skin and keep it moist during the night.

  • Put water by the bed and sip it through the night. This will help you to stay well hydrated.

  • Sleep whenever possible on your back.

  • Use a pillowcase made from a soft material like silk or satin. Rough cotton surfaces irritate the skin while compressing the face and this causes wrinkles to develop. If you’re a side sleeper a copper-oxide pillow may prove useful in reducing fine lines and crow’s feet.

  • Sleep with your head elevated. This helps to reduce sleep-related problems such as nasal drip, acid reflux and snoring all of which can negatively impact on your quality of sleep, and therefore cause premature skin aging. Sleeping with your head raised also helps to reduce circles and bags under the eyes as blood flow is boosted and is prevented from pooling. You can elevate your head easily by putting a wedge under your mattress, propping up the head of the bed or even adding more pillows.

  • Don’t sleep in the sun. If you take naps outdoors or by a window, this can damage the appearance and health of your skin. Also, if you sleep in a well-lit space, your sleep rhythms can be disturbed and this can also lead to poor quality of sleep which contributes to skin aging. Buy blackout curtains if you sleep in your room during the day and come indoors for a nap. This will limit the amount of exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays your skin experiences.

While we all spend a lot of money on skin products to improve the health and condition of our complexion, it’s important never to overlook the importance of getting enough sleep if you want your skin to look its best. 

Ensuring you maximize the amount and quality of rest you get every night won’t just help you to look more youthful, glowing and bright, it will also help to maintain your skin in optimal condition for many more years to come. 

While the process of aging is a natural one, there’s no need to rush it! Nobody wants to look old before their time, so if you’ve spotted those tell-tale signs of premature aging such as fine lines, wrinkles and eye bags, it’s time to take action and to put measures in place so you can improve your nightly rest. 

By getting more sleep now, you can preserve your youthful good looks for as long as possible, and enjoy better overall health into the bargain.

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