No Seriously, Scientists Really Want You To Get Your 'Beauty' Sleep

Excuse us while we get an early night.
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No joke, sleep is one of my favourite things in the entire world. I absolutely cannot get enough of it. And I’m sure many people share this sentiment with me. And yet, more often than not, we all run on quite a low amount of sleep.

We often talk about how we need to get our ‘beauty sleep’ before a big event or a big day. But is there even a science to it? Does getting our ‘beauty sleep’ actually have an effect on our bodies?

Dr Unnati Desai, the national GP lead at Nuffield Health with a special interest in dermatology, thinks so, as she reveals the benefits of beauty sleep and tips to optimise our skin care regimes.

So what are the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep?

For one, getting enough sleep supports holistic health, not just physical aesthetics.

“First and foremost, it’s incredibly important to understand that sleep is so much more than just a numbers game. Our quality of sleep impacts our overall well being, including our physical, mental and cognitive health,” she explains.

“During sleep, the body undergoes regeneration and repair, which helps to support every system within our bodies. It’s crucial to prioritise getting uninterrupted, quality sleep on a daily basis in order to reap the most health benefits,” she adds.

Another thing that good sleep does for our bodies is it increases the growth hormone production.

Humans tend to sleep in five stage cycles which can last from 90 to 110 minutes and recurs throughout the night. When we’re in stage 3 and 4, which is when we’re in deep sleep, there’s a surge in the secretion of growth hormone.

Growth hormones assists with the repair and regeneration of all cells, including skin cells. These growth hormones are important for the production of collagen and elastin, which help create a plump, smooth, well hydrated skin.

So in order to repair the damage caused to your skin, it is important to reach the deep sleep stage of the cycle.

On the other hand, not getting enough sleep can cause problems like an increase in cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress related hormone that kicks in our natural “fight or flight” mechanism, which means the body is always on high alert.

“Cortisol is always present in our systems, but it is often at its lowest when we sleep, giving our bodies the opportunity to regenerate from the day. A lack of sleep, unfortunately, does the reverse – it increases the cortisol levels in our system,” explains Dr. Desai.

“This, in turn, can have a negative impact on both our skin and hair, and can be the cause of some of the most recognised skin symptoms from sleep deprivation,” she adds.

Elevated cortisol levels can also have an impact on our blood vessels, causing them to dilate and give us dark circles under our eyes. It can also stimulate oil production in the skin and scalp, resulting in acne breakouts and greasy hair.

“Chronically elevated levels of cortisol can lead to inflammation which, in the skin, results in flare ups of skin conditions such as rosacea, psoriasis and eczema, as well as general dryness. It can also contribute to hair loss,” adds Dr. Desai.

So how can you ensure you get a good night’s sleep? Implementing a good night-time facial routine can help with that.

Cleansing your face before bed will remove environmental and cosmetic pollutants from your skin. Therefore it is always recommended to remove your makeup before you wash your face and go to sleep.

Other tips to prep your skin before bed include using a medical grade face wash with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) to gently exfoliate the skin; and using a non-alcohol toner to help refine the pores on your skin.

Dr. Desai also recommends vitamin A at night-time for anti-ageing, fine lines, pigmentation and keeping epidermal cell turnover optimal.

Top it all off by using a moisturiser, which will help hydrate your skin.

So get those 8 hours in, people. It’s better for your skin.