What a lack of sleep does to your face


We all know sleep is important for overall health, but a new study’s shown it can also make a scary difference to the long-term appearance of your skin.

To investigate the effect, the London-based The Sleep School initially conducted a sleep survey of 11,000 people, finding almost half were getting just six hours (or less) sleep per night.

Then, they put Daily Mail writer Sarah Chalmers’ face to the test.

First, the 46-year-old had her skin quality analysed by a facial scan. It found that she had quite good skin for a Caucasian woman of her age, as well as fewer than average wrinkles.

But this was soon to change. Following instructions, she spent one night sleeping for just four hours (half the recommended daily requirement). After a three-day recovery period, she bumped it up slightly to six hours for five consecutive nights.

Unsurprisingly, following the five-day stint, the writer felt forgetful, clumsy and emotional. But it was the long-term impact on her skin that shocked her the most…

Photo credit: dailymail.co.uk

Her pores had more than doubled in size and her skin tone was also 50 per cent redder. And that wasn’t all she noticed:

“My eyes have dark rings underneath and my skin is lacklustre, with pores so enlarged I can see them from a distance. To top it all off, a couple of spots are beginning to develop on my chin,” she said.

But just how did a lack of sleep lead to Chalmers’ ravaged complexion?

Well, according to cosmetic dermatologist Dr Anita Sturnham, “sleep loss causes the body to release too little human growth hormone, which promotes the repair of skin cells.”

Apparently, it also leads to your body releasing “increased levels of cortisol, which breaks down skin collagen and elastin, the protein fibres that keep the skin smooth and give the skin its elasticity”.

London Sleep Centre Medical Director Dr Irshaad Ebrahim summed up the effect nicely, saying it’s “the physical equivalent of keeping driving your car over a pothole, day after day”.

“Your car gets more and more damaged the longer you do it, just as your body becomes more and more damaged the longer you deprive it of sleep,” he says.

Yep, there’s a reason they call it beauty sleep!

And with so many of us now juggling long work hours, family obligations and busy social lives, it seems it’s never been more important to prioritise it.

How much sleep do you get each night? Is sleep something you think about with regards to skincare?

Share your thoughts

Comments 7

  1. Working shift work at a nurse morning, afternoon or night plays up with my sleep patterns. I have since started switching off all devices and putting my phone onto do not disturb mode to help me with easing into a sleep pattern

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