Beauty sleep is real and you’ve probably heard it a thousand times. Still, I know that so many of you are neglecting your sleep and may not understand the strong effect it has on your skin health and not at least the aging process. Especially long term. Therefore I will now go into dept with the question ‘Does sleep make you look younger?
A quick answer is yes. It is well-proven that the skin benefits of sleep are some of the most powerful ones for a younger-looking face. And there is no cream or serum in the world that can achieve what a good night’s sleep can.
Getting your beauty sleep is, therefore, one of the simplest and cheapest actions you can do to get smoother, firmer, and healthier skin.
This post will explain all you need to know in order to use sleep as a method to prevent and even reverse aging of your skin.
I’ll cover all the meaty facts about how sleep affects your skin. How much sleep you really need. And what to do if you are having difficulties to get those number of hours you need.
I will also give you a list of actions to implement in order to improve the sleep benefits as much as possible. And lastly, I’ll give you some tips on supplements and sleep gadgets that might be worth investing in.
This is what I’ll cover. And as usual, you can jump straight to any part of the post by clicking on the headlines below:
- What are the skin benefits of sleep?
- How much beauty sleep do you need?
- Can you catch up on lost sleep benefits?
- What to do if you struggle with your beauty sleep?
- Supplements that can help improve your sleep quality
- Sleep gadgets that may help your sleep quality
- What about sleep wrinkles?
So, let’s dig deeper into one of the most fundamental actions to prevent wrinkles and other signs of skin aging.
What are the skin benefits of sleep
When you sleep is when your skin gets a chance to recover and rejuvenate. Just as the rest of the body recovers from stress, so does the largest organ of your entire body. The skin. Not getting enough sleep will affect your skin in so many ways, which I will explain in this section.
Beauty sleep will preserve collagen and elastin, giving you smoother and firmer skin
Quality sleep allows your skin to repair and prevent accumulated damage from stress.
Without enough sleep, you’ll instead get high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Which has the dreaded side effect of breaking down collagen and elastin.
And since these are the proteins that give your skin structure and elasticity, you can imagine how important sleep is in order to keep the skin smooth and firm.
Beauty sleep will give you a more hydrated skin
With too much cortisol circulating in your body you can also experience a reduction of hyaluronic acid in your skin. What that means is that your skin will feel more dry and limp.
With proper sleep, you will reduce the cortisol and have more hydrated and plumped skin from within.
Beauty sleep and acne control
There is a strong correlation between poor sleep and acne. And that is because (again) a lack of sleep increases cortisol levels, which in turn will promote inflammation and weaken your immune system. And this will promote acne. Especially when combined with poor diet and/or hormonal fluctuations.
So if you’re prone to acne, definitely make sure to prioritize your sleep.
The excess of cortisol and inflammation that a lack of sleep brings on, will also contribute to other skin problems such as eczema. The sleep benefits are endless when it comes to problematic skin.
Beauty sleep and prevention of glycation
Insufficient sleep affects the body’s ability to regulate and metabolize glucose, which will put you at risk for high blood sugar. And high blood sugar will, in turn, lead to a process called glycation that will increase the breakdown of collagen and elastin even more. Causing wrinkles and sagging.
Human growth hormones and beauty sleep
One of the greatest benefits of sleep is the effect it has on our natural HGH secretion. HGH stands for Human growth hormone and is a body produced hormone with many powerful anti-aging properties. Not just for your skin but for your entire body.
Beauty sleep for better Antioxidant defense
When we are sleep deprived, we also get a decrease in our production of antioxidants. Lack of antioxidants means less power to fight skin damage from the sun, pollution, and other harmful stress factors. And the antioxidants that are body-produced are the most powerful ones we can get.
So without proper sleep, our skin (along with our other organs) is going to be hurt from all the free radicals that we are exposed to. This will over time lead to more signs of aging.
Beauty sleep for fresh eyes and glowing skin
With a good night’s sleep, you will have optimal blood circulation, resulting in a natural skin glow.
As mentioned before you will also have a better hydration level in your skin. Which contributes to even more skin glow as well as firmer skin that appears more plumped.
When it comes to your eyes, the most immediate advantage with a good night’s beauty sleep is that you will get fresher and brighter eyes.
With lack of sleep, you will instead most likely develop dark circles and/or under-eye bags, do to the lack of circulation.
But also, the lack of hyaluronic acid will give you a more saggy appearance under and above the eyes. No eye cream can really help with that to be honest. If you have a lack of sleep you simply need to sleep.
Without enough sleep you will (among other things) lose collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid at an accelerated speed. Which will age your skin faster.
How much beauty sleep do you need?
Let’s move over to the critical question, how much sleep you really need.
Unfortunately, it’s extremely common to be sleep-deprived. And this destructive phenomenon has been rising from the middle of the 80s. Today’s number is that over a third (35,6%) of all Americans are sleep deprived. So how do you know if you are one of them?
Well, optimal sleep for most adult people, ranges between seven and nine hours a night. But it’s important to understand that there is no magic number for what will give YOU the most optimal sleep. You really have to pay attention to your own individual needs and evaluate how you feel and look after different amounts of hours.
How much sleep that is sufficient varies a lot from person to person, but it will also vary across the lifespan. Stressful times, when you have a cold (or other infection), or periods when you are doing a lot of strenuous training, will all increase your sleep requirement.
The sleep foundation recommends you simply ask yourself questions such as are you productive, healthy, and happy during the day? Do you feel sleepy while driving? Do you depend on caffeine to get through the day? These questions must be asked before you can find the number that works for you.
A fact to be aware of is that around 1 percent of the population are so-called short-sleepers. They only need around 4-6 hours of sleep per night due to their genetics. While most people who sleep that little are heavily sleep-deprived.
So if you happen to feel great and energetic after only 6 hours or less, you probably can consider yourself a short-sleeper (lucky you :)).
Can you catch up on lost sleep benefits?
This is quite a debated subject. But yes, even though there have not been any studies on this specifically for the skin, sleep depth can, in general, be repaired. But you have to distinguish between short term- and long term sleep deprivation.
The short term sleep deprivation is easier to catch up on. While the sleep depth that has been accumulated over a longer period of time will take much longer to recover from.
If being long term sleep-deprived it can take several months to recover and get back to a natural sleep pattern. And it requires that you allow yourself to sleep the number of hours your body needs (without an alarm clock). As your body recovers you will eventually find the right amount of hours that is healthy for you.
What to do if you struggle with your beauty sleep?
Let’s start with the simplest and fundamental advice for better sleep and increased sleep benefits.
- Try to stick to a sleep schedule
- Exercise daily but not to close to bedtime
- Make sure you calm down a couple of hours before bedtime
- Keep your bedroom cool and dark
- Use earplugs if you are bothered by noise.
- Evaluate your pillow and mattress
- Do not drink caffeine closer than 8 hours before bedtime
- Do not drink alcohol closer than a few hours before bedtime. Alcohol can make you fall asleep, but it will not give you the quality sleep you need.
- Stay away from nicotine, especially before bedtime, since nicotine is a stimulant. Hopefully, you do not smoke. Otherwise, make sure you read my post about how to prevent wrinkles. And learn why smoking is one of the things that age your skin the most. You find the post here.
- Avoid electronics with blue light before bedtime (smartphones, laptops, tv screens). Or you can do as I do and use blue light filter (see below under gadgets)
The last and most important advice is one I will cite from the sleep foundation:
I agree with them completely. But I also understand it’s not always achievable. Like if you have a newborn baby. For all parents struggling with their sleep, I recommend this site for some useful information.
Supplements that can help improve your beauty sleep
If you’ve tried the advice above and still struggle to have a restful quality sleep, or maybe you think you sleep enough but still wake up tired every morning. Then I suggest you consider trying some supplements. The ones below can help you enjoy all the benefits of sleep that your skin and body need.
But since they are powerful, I must also suggest that you consult your doctor in case you have any illnesses or medications that they can conflict with.
With that said, here are the supplements I recommend you look into. And I’ll start with my favorite one.
*Please note, this post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase through any of those links. It doesn’t cost you any extra and I only recommend products I truly love and use myself. You can read my full disclosure here.
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA)
Alpha-lipoic acid, also called lipoic acid or ALA, is an antioxidant produced within our bodies and found in small amounts in certain foods.
This antioxidant has been shown to help with everything from stress resistance to cardiac function, hormonal balance, muscle performance, glucose metabolism, and to slow down aging. Exactly how might partly be explained by newer research regarding its impact on our circadian rhythm.
One side effect of getting older is that the body’s natural circadian rhythms become more and more disturbed. And the same can happen due to stress overload or illnesses. And this disturbance will express itself with tiredness during daytime, AND difficulties to sleep soundly or regularly at night.
New research suggests that alpha-lipoic acid may be able to regulate and harmonize our circadian rhythm, and actually be able to reset our biological clock. So the research on alpha-lipoic acid is mildly said extremely exciting when it comes to anti-aging and improvement in overall health.
I have been taking ALA supplements for a couple of months now, and they have worked wonders for my sleep. I fall asleep much faster and I sleep more deeply. I think my circadian rhythm needed it probably since I have been dealing with a lot of stress over the years. I cannot promise it will help everyone. But It’s definitely a keeper for me!
If you want to try it out yourself, here is the one I am taking right now ( I take 2-3 tablets before bedtime). If you follow that link you will get a 10 % off. Or if you are a returning customer to Iherb already, you will still get 5 % off .
The next supplement I want to mention is Glycine. It’s an amino acid that is body-produced from other amino acids and also found in protein-rich foods. And, of course, as supplements.
This amino acid has been shown to promote better sleep quality through its calming effects on the brain and its ability to lower core body temperature. It has also been shown that glycine improves performance of memory recognition.
You can buy glycine in either capsules or powder, and I personally go with the powder. Just be aware that this amino acid is very very sweet (glycine is actually derived from the Greek word for “sweet”). And you can use it as a natural sweetener if you want to.
So do I take glycine myself and does it help? Well, yes I’ve recently started to take this powder. But to be honest I haven’t noticed any remarkable differences yet. Probably because I already got helped a lot with the ALA supplement.
BUT, I will continue taking it and will update the post if I have something new to add. And, besides promoting sleep benefits, glycine also happens to be the largest building block in collagen. And even though I think I have a high production of glycine in my body already, a little extra wouldn’t hurt.
This is the glycine I order myself. By using that link you’ll get a 10 % off, or 5 % if you are a returning customer to Iherb.
Melatonin is a natural body produced hormone (and an antioxidant as well) that is extremely important in regulating our sleep. In simple words, it’s the hormone that tells the body when to feel tired.
It’s called “the Dracula hormone” since the brain releases melatonin when it’s dark. And therefore, exposure to light (even from computers and smartphones, can suppress the body’s natural melatonin production and disrupt your sleep.
It seems like supplementing with melatonin will help some types of insomnia, but not for all kinds of sleeping problems. It seems to be especially effective when the insomnia is due to jetlag or shift work. When it comes to other types of insomnia, more research is needed.
If you are interested in trying melatonin, consult your doctor.
Magnesium is an important mineral with countless functions and effects on the body. For example, it regulates your nervous system, muscle functions, blood sugar, blood pressure, and it also plays important roles in making protein, bone mass, and DNA.
Magnesium also seems to have a positive effect on sleeping problems for some people. By helping to quiet the nervous system, by increasing the neurotransmitter GABA, it can help you relax and prepare for sleep. Magnesium is also a part of the regulation of melatonin.
You can get magnesium through eating foods like legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, dark chocolate, fruit, and leafy greens. Still, far too many people, especially among the elderly, get insufficient amounts of magnesium, which will lead to sleep problems.
Always strive for getting plenty of magnesium through the food that you eat. And if you want to try a supplement. This link goes to my favorite one. That link will also give you a 10 % discount (5% for returning customers).
What about prescripted sleeping pill?
If you continue to suffer from insomnia or other problems with your sleep, then it might be a good idea to consult your doctor about prescription sleeping pills.
It’s nothing I recommend unless you’ve really tried everything else. Such as the things discussed above. And maybe even meditation and/or yoga.
But if nothing works, definitely seek help. Because sleep deprivation is indeed harmful. Not just for your skin but for your overall health.
There are non-addictive and safe medications that you can discuss with your doctor. For example, Atarax, an anti-histamine medication (to treat allergies and itching) that has a sedative effect.
The active ingredient in Atarax is called hydroxyzine, and to date, there are no known problems associated with the long-term use of hydroxyzine.
I have tried Atarax myself, during periods when I have had difficulties to fall asleep due to stress. It worked great for me, but we are all different. Talk to your doctor about what can be the most suitable medication for you depending on your kind of problem.
Ok so let’s move over to sleep gadgets that might help you with your sleep. There are many products out there, but here I have collected a few that I think are worth mentioning. And that I am using myself.
This is a kind of blanket that applies light and even pressure over your body. The purpose is, first of all, to keep you more still and relaxed when you are in bed. As if you are being gently held.
But this gently applied pressure is also providing many powerful effects that go even deeper. Just as with massage and touch, it is said that weighted blankets increase the hormone oxytocin that has a calming effect, at the same time as it lowers cortisol.
I have recently tried this weighted blanket from Home Depot. It’s great quality and the material is hypoallergenic too. Which I like since I am allergic to almost everything. If you want to try the same the offer free shipping within the US.
There are many other companies who sell this kind of product and I think most of them are pretty good. If you want to find a more low-budget blanket I recommend this link that goes to the blankets offered by Target.
Blue light filter
So I mentioned earlier that before bedtime, you should avoid electronics that emit blue light. And that is because blue light will suppress your release of melatonin and make it more difficult to fall asleep.
Also, blue light happens to be bad for your skin and can increase the formation of wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. I mention blue light in my article about sunscreens, so definitely read that one if you haven’t.
On my smartphone, I use an inbuilt setting that removes the blue light. But if you do not have that function on your phone, you can check out this smartphone filter on Bang Good.
On my laptop, I use an external blue light filter such as this one on Bang Good. An awesome invention! Not just for protecting your eyes and increasing your sleep quality, but at the same time protecting your skin from the harmful radiation.
The last gadget I want to mention is a blackout shade/curtain. A dark bedroom will promote quality sleep and help you sleep more deeply until you are fully rested.
I recommend you use a solution like this one on Home Depot. They do have many different kinds to choose between, for whatever budget you have. Just make sure it is a shade that won’t permit light to go through the top, the sides, or the bottom of the window. You need is a curtain that blocks all light for coming through.
Another option is to do what I have done. I have built my own solution using blackout fabric that I place over the window frame. And an elastic band around the frame to keep it in place and to hinder any light from coming through. Super easy, non-expensive, and very effective! I bring it with me everywhere I go and I cannot live without it.
What about sleep wrinkles?
Does sleep make you look younger? Or can sleeping cause so called sleep wrinkles on your face?
After talking this much about the beauty sleep benefits, I know some of you may worry about sleep wrinkles. Those wrinkles that can form in our face after sleeping on our stomach or on our side. And that over the years actually can become permanent. What can we do to prevent that?
If you’ve read the post so far you know how important your beauty sleep is for anti-aging, so sleeping less is definitely not the answer.
But besides that, my best suggestion is simply to sleep on your back. No matter how hard it can be to change that habit. Just do it! I did it myself, so I now rarely sleep on my side. It’s hard I must say, but it is definitely worth it, and a comfortable pillow is key.
I have tried many pillows (I actually tested plenty of them for many years time) but none of them made me sleep comfortably on my back. What I then discovered was that a regular IKEA pillow was what I needed. And now I fall asleep on my back, and wake up in the same position, for at least 90 percent of the time. Which I think is great!
I believe finding the right pillow is very personal. So I am not going to give any recommendations. But I do encourage you to keep trying until you find the one that will help you sleep on your back. In the long run, your face will be grateful.
Your beauty sleep is one of the most important measures for healthy and youthful skin. And there are no skincare products or tips and tricks that can achieve the same younger-looking effects that sleep can.
Here is a short summary of the beauty sleep benefits that you will enjoy if allowing yourself to sleep the hours you need.
- Beauty sleep prevents loss of collagen and elastin, keeping your skin firmer and smoother for longer.
- It will also keep your skin more hydrated and plumped, and increase circulation for a natural and healthy glow.
- Beauty sleep will also increase the release of natural human growth hormones, which has many powerful anti-aging effects on your skin and body.
- Finally, beauty sleep fights inflammation and acne and will boost your natural antioxidant defense. Protecting you against environmentally aging factors such as sunrays and pollution.
- So yes, most definitely, sleep does make you look younger if you get enough of it.
And here are the tips of what to try if you are struggling with your sleep.
- Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet. Try stick with a sleeping schedule, and avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine several hours before bedtime. Also, avoid electronics that emit blue light before bedtime.
- If you want to try a supplement I personally recommend ALA, Glycine, and Magnesium (my links will give you 10 % off). And in some cases, melatonin can be e great help too. Discuss with your doctor.
- The sleeping gadgets I find most effective are a weighted blanket, blue light filter for smartphones and laptops (they will protect your skin from damaging rays as well), and blackout shades.
- The final advice is to sleep on your back, to avoid sleep wrinkles that can form over time if you sleep on your side or stomach.
I hope you’ve found this article helpful. I really enjoyed writing it since I know from own experience what an incredible effect beauty sleep has on the skin’s ability to heal and rejuvenate. Both short term and long term.
I fully understand though, if you feel that prioritizing sleep seems quite difficult. Because it is! We are all chasing time and there is so much we want to experience and achieve during our time awake. Work, career, family, hobbies, friends, etc. So a “simple” way to gain more hours is to cut down on our sleep. Unfortunately, that will also affect your health and your skin in a very negative way.
Instead of thinking that fewer hours in bed will give you more time per day. You should rather consider the fact that fewer hours in bed will give you a day with less quality. Your brain will not function at its best. Your mood will not be your best. And your looks will for sure not be at its best either (it is called beauty sleep for a reason).
Let sleep be a priority and you will not just be happier and more productive throughout the day. You will also be your most beautiful you!
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or thoughts. Either it’s about sleep in general, or the skin benefits of sleep in particular. I would love to hear from you and help out if I can.
Until next time, love your skin!!