We already know that a lack of sleep can leave skin looking dull and dehydrated, but research has also found that those who don’t sleep well show more signs of skin ageing, including fine lines, uneven pigmentation and reduced skin elasticity. So, how can we stop a lack of sleep playing havoc with our skin?
In 2003, Dr. Howard Murad identified Cultural Stress™, a phenomenon induced by the demands of modern-day living: It’s the unnecessary man-made stress we put on ourselves in our attempt to live up to everyone’s expectations. Our hyper-connected, fast-paced society triggers a constant flood of damaging stress hormones, like cortisol, that fatigue our bodies and can show in our skin as dehydration, sallowness, roughness and deep expression lines”, he explains.
What’s more, cultural stress is also keeping us up at night, with roughly two-thirds of us complaining that sleep deprivation cuts into our life and wellbeing‡. Particularly affected is our circadian rhythm, a 24-hour clock that runs in the background of the brain, cycling between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. This sleep/wake cycle also impacts on our skin. When you’re sleeping at night, your body enters a type of hibernation that allows it to repair itself. In the morning, it shifts to protection phase.
“Our body gets set to rest when the sun goes down, but our time-compressed schedules don’t align. Sleep is the first thing we sacrifice from our schedule as daytime responsibilities stretch well into the night. And it shows upon waking, appearing as dark under-eye circles, dullness, dehydration, deep-set wrinkles and puffiness,” said Dr Murad.
Studies have found that the faces of those who fall asleep within one hour appear up to two and a half years younger* than those who take longer than this. Research has also found that those who don’t sleep well show more signs of skin ageing, including fine lines, uneven pigmentation and reduced skin elasticity. On the contrary, those who get quality sleep recover better from skin stressors, such as sun and environmental toxins. ¶
However, it’s not just sleeping that helps to protect our skin - our skincare routine also plays a huge role. Night Fix Enzyme Treatment by Murad is an overnight treatment that has been created to combat the signs of sleep deprivation: “I created Night Fix Enzyme Treatment to encourage overnight skin repair through ingredients inspired by the science of sleep. Night Fix Enzyme Treatment is skincare that doubles as self-care and is an essential part of a nightly routine that can help you rest better to rise and glow,” said Dr Murad.
So, what’s the science behind it? Well, we know that skin loses water 3x faster at night†
, and ingredients found in Night Fix Enzyme Treatment can help skin hold more water, prevent dehydration and support natural repair. Formulated with chronopeptide and tri-enzyme technology, it works in sync with the circadian rhythm and supports natural repair for renewed skin vibrancy. What’s more, aroma technology helps to prepare the senses for deep, restful sleep, leading to healthier-looking skin by morning.
So, how else can we sleep better, be kind to our mind and protect our skin?
Build a regular pattern
– Try to go to sleep and get up at around the same times, even on weekends. This helps to develop a solid sleep-wake rhythm and improves the quality of sleep.
Improve your sleep environment
– Sleep in a calm, quiet, dark room. Try not to let light into the bedroom, and ban all light or noise emitting devices – that means no TV, no phones, and no radio. If you’re a light sleeper, use ear plugs to block out noises from the neighbours.
Keep work away from the bedroom
– Try to keep your bedroom a place of escape. Put your alarm clock out of sight if you tend to constantly look at the clock.
Use light and dark to your advantage
– Open the curtains immediately on rising and close the curtains before bedtime for subdued light. This helps set our biological clock.
Set the right temperature
– A little fresh air in the bedroom (temperature 16-18 °c) will help your sleep. Use lavender oil on the wrists and pulse points to help you relax.
Your mattress and clothing matters
– Ensure that you have a good quality mattress and a pillow that properly supports the cervical spine, and use sheets made with natural substances. Avoid tight clothing which constricts circulation.
Avoid sofa naps
– Feel sleepy? Avoid catnaps on the sofa and just go to bed!
Consider your daytime activities
– These strongly influence your sleep quality. Daily exercise in the morning or early afternoon improves sleep, but strenuous activities just before bedtime have the opposite effect.
Make time to wind down
– Take 30 minutes before you go to bed to unwind. Avoid TV, computer games, surfing the internet or using social media; instead enjoy a warm bath, listen to relaxing music or take an evening stroll.
Eat a light snack before bedtime
– This can encourage sleep, whereas both hunger and a full stomach can stop you nodding off. Avoid drinking large quantities of water before sleeping to stop bathroom visits disturbing your sleep.
*Based on a study that quantified self-perceived age; not related to skincare product usage.
Effects of sleep quality on skin aging and function. Department of Dermatology, Department of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.
Results based on an average of 16 subjects.