How A Lack Of Sleep Can Mess With Your Skin, From A Derm

It has everything to do with cortisol. As you may know, when your cortisol levels are ramped up, your collagen, hyaluronic acid, and lipids tend to suffer; those other processes are put on the backburner in order for your body to focus all its energy on that “fight-or-flight” response. As these three components deplete over time, it can lead to “dermal thinning,” where the skin can actually become thinner and less elastic. As a result, your skin barrier weakens, which can kickstart a smattering of concerns—think irritation, dryness, and premature aging. 

So where does sleep come into play? Well, says Bowe, sleep and stress are deeply intertwined. “When the quality or the quantity of your sleep is compromised, especially overtime and especially if it’s more than one night, that’s registered by the body and the brain as stress,” she says. This link between sleep and stress is backed by research, as one study found short sleep duration was associated with perceived stress in working adults. Similarly, older research has found that participants limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week felt more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. 

On another note, your skin shifts into “recovery mode” at night: There’s a huge surge in HGH (human growth hormone) in the nighttime sleep cycle, which helps rebuild body tissues and spurs increased cell production to replace cells that were damaged throughout the day. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, your skin cells aren’t regenerating as much during this recovery process. And, thus, there’s a buildup of damaged cells, which can make your skin appear dull, dry, and congested.

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