Everyone knows that haggard look. If you’ve ever pulled an all-nighter or kept a late vigil in a waiting room, the effects are the same. Puffy, reddened eyes, dark circles, and overall pallor. You can’t “replace” lost sleep later, but generally your skin will return to normal within a week.

But what if you cheat yourself of a normal night’s sleep (7 to 8 hours per night) on a regular basis? When you run on too much stress and too little sleep, this has not only a short-term but also a long-term effect on your skin’s appearance.

5 ways inadequate sleep affects your skin

Dark circles

Blood vessels dilate more when your body is trying to compensate for fatigue. This is what causes dark circles to appear under your eyes. It’s not the skin’s surface changing color, but increased visibility of the swollen blood vessels and capillaries just beneath the skin.


Chronic insufficient sleep causes your body’s levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, to rise. Too much cortisol leads to the breakdown of collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic. And that leads to development of new fine lines and wrinkles.

Thinner skin

Young skin is thicker, due to the natural growth hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Although it lessens with age, this hormone continues to be released during deep-sleep cycles, which occur every hour to hour and a half each night. When you skimp on sleep you miss more of these cycles, which reduces the hormone available to repair your skin.

Watery eyes

Damp eyes can actually be a dry-eyes symptom—your eyes overproduce tears in an effort to compensate. Tears production and eye surface repair both take place during your sleep. When you don’t get enough rest, one result can be irritated eyes that appear weepy.

Sagging skin

Again, the culprit is cortisol—the stress hormone also associated with depression. As rising cortisol from too little sleep depletes collagen stores, the tiny muscle fibers that hold skin taut and firm will stretch and sag, eventually contributing to a jowly, droopy appearance.

Instead of wasting more money on new cosmetics, maybe you need to buy yourself a bottle of better sleep! Read on for helpful tips.

5 ways to optimize sleep for your skin

Practice good sleep hygiene

You likely already have a night-time beauty regimen—cleansing, applying moisturizer and so forth. But sleep hygiene is just as important for your skin. The basics of good sleep hygiene are regularity, routine, and relaxation—and lower light levels during the evening. Experts say that adequate sleep is as important to health as diet and exercise. Ironically, too much (more than 8 hours) also contributes to skin breakdown.

Create a pure sleeping environment

Just as you don’t want to eat polluted food, it’s better not to sleep in a bed that exposes your skin to pesticide residues, synthetic dyes, and chemical fabric treatments. Choose organic bedding for the greatest comfort and protection. Long-staple organic cotton bedding softens with every wash, so there’s less friction to irritate skin as you move during sleep.

Control allergens

Skin allergies cause rashes, itching and scratching—symptoms of allergic contact dermatitis. Respiratory allergies produce stuffy, red noses and chapped skin from constant streaming. Allergies also contribute to restless sleep, which means missing some of the deepest cycles during which skin repair takes place. Organic allergy encasements prevent dust mite and pet dander buildup. Organic bedding protects your skin from allergic reactions to the toxic chemicals used on most textiles.

Humidify, especially in winter

Hydration is one of the primary features of most cosmetics. Oils and lotions applied to the skin’s surface can help it temporarily retain moisture. But no amount of moisturizer will keep skin supple if the air is too dry. Consider using a humidifier in the bedroom to help your skin retain natural moisture levels during the night.

Sleep comfortably

If you want more sleep for the sake of your skin (and the rest of you), seek out the most comfortable bed possible. This will make going to bed earlier more appealing and encourage deeper sleep. A customized natural mattress designed just for your body will maximize your comfort. The right organic pillow helps too, particularly a customizable style.

When you sleep better, you’ll look better. But more importantly, you’ll be healthier. And there’s no better beautifier than the glow of good health.

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