Sleep can be an awakening, transformative, body-healing practice if done right and while getting your “beauty sleep” may sound cliché to many, several clinical studies prove that it is in fact real. It refers to all the healing processes that begin when your body and skin dream. A time when your body begins to heal itself from the damage of the day.
Quality sleep is crucial for our health and wellbeing. Not only do we need it to stay focused and alert during the day, but it also helps our organism to recharge and recover. While lack of sleep can take a toll on how we feel and how our skin looks, too much sleep can also have some negative outcomes. Especially when it comes to “sleep wrinkles” and puffiness. All of which can be managed with a balanced nighttime routine.
According to experts, in order to experience the positive effects of a good night’s rest, adults should sleep between seven to nine hours every night. Less than six hours per night will likely decrease our bodies’ ability to cope with daily tasks, even the ones happening at the cellular level.
Over the years, there has been a considerable amount of speculation on how sleep and circadian rhythm-related issues can affect our protective barrier, the skin. Research has shown that there is a lot that escapes to the naked eye that happens below the surface of the skin and that affects our dermal matrix in more ways than we may think. Aging is not just strongly related to the environment and its external aggressors, but also to how we sleep to reverse that damage. With each sleep, the body rewinds itself and regenerates our cells from the damage sustained and that is why nighttime, is when skincare products work their best.
When we enter deep sleep, our body enters recovery mode and produces growth hormones. These hormones create new cells that heal our skin and this is where active ingredients can boost cellular turnover and regulate proper healing.
Many studies have been conducted on how sleep affects our body, but the few that have been researched on how it affects the skin show that poor sleepers experience increased signs of skin aging and slower recovery rates from a variety of oxidative environmental stressors, such as disruption of the skin barrier or ultraviolet (UV) induced radiation. Poor sleepers also have worse assessments of their own skin and overall facial appearance.
Poor sleep is directly correlated with reduced skin quality and health over time. As previously mentioned, our skin uses sleep as a healing mechanism, to repair structural damage sustained through the daily exposure to environmental stressors. Lack of sleep can prevent your skin from fully healing from sun damage and glycation and can increase the severity and amount of existing skin conditions. On the other hand, proper sleep can encourage healthy blood and oxygen flow to the skin, resulting in a glowier, healthier complexion.
When it comes to skin renewal, a recent clinical independent study concluded that at 72 h after exposure good sleepers had 30% greater barrier recovery compared with that of poor sleepers. At 24 h after exposure to ultraviolet light, good sleepers had significantly better recovery from erythema. Good sleepers also reported a significantly better perception of their appearance and physical attractiveness compared with poor sleepers.
When it comes to skincare absorption rates, it has been concluded that skin penetration of hydrophilic (water-based) and lipophilic (oil-based) topical treatments is at its maximum at around 04:00 hours (4:00 am), with absorption slowing throughout the daylight hours. This is likely due to the increase in skin permeability at night.
No wonder why, skincare tends to be more effective when paired with our body’s self-healing night process. This is why the role of essential oils in skincare and sleep cycles is particularly interesting. Aromatherapy with distinct scents has been shown to promote better sleep, help you wake up in the morning, or even influence dreams and memory formation during sleep. Circadian rhythms, part of your biological clock, help regulate your sleep and influence your sense of smell as well.