Not catching enough ZZZZZ's at night? Here's how a lack of sleep can do a number on your skin.
1. You deprive your brain, body, and skin of nourishment.
Sleep is food for your brain, body, and skin, and if you don't get enough, you deprive each of its nourishment. "During a good night's rest, your body works to remove dead blood cells and dead brain cells, and clears the pathways for new synapses to take place so that new blood and brain cells can replace old ones," says sleep expert Rebecca S. Robbins, M.D., Ph.D., researcher at Cornell University, and author of Sleep for Success!. Your brain also gets rid of 60 percent more toxins when you get the proper amount of sleep, she adds. Overall, this helps you feel more refreshed when you get up, able to think more clearly, and gives your skin that I-woke-up-like-this #glowing look.
2. Your skin becomes imbalanced, which leads to a dehydrated complexion, redness, and breakouts.
Not only does not getting enough sleep negatively affect your body, it affects the moisture levels in your skin, decreasing them and also lowering your complexion's pH levels, which is why your skin looks less youthful and has less of a glow.
When your skin's pH levels drop, they create an imbalance, causing your skin to not be able to produce the moisture it needs, so it makes it look drier. It can also create unnecessary redness, leaving your skin uneven and even trigger breakouts. That's why using skin care products that keep your skin at a slightly acidic level (so it keeps moisture in and bacteria out), and monitoring the amount you sleep is an absolute critical component of your beauty regimen. But you may need more or less than eight hours, Dr. Robbins says. To figure out the exact amount your body needs to function on all cylinders, go to bed 15 minutes earlier every night and continue adding 15 minutes until you feel wide awake all day along.
3. You develop dark circles.
As you sleep, your body's cells regenerate, especially at skin level. Burning the candle at both ends is the no. 1 reason your blood vessels dilate, which leads to dark circles. Getting enough sleep keeps everything operating how it should and will help reduce the blue or purple shadow under your eyes. Pulled an all-nighter and need to conceal these trouble spots stat? Apply a chilled (keep it in the fridge if you know you're going to be out late), skin-tightening eye cream that contains caffeine-packed Japanese green tea extract, under your eyes and then conceal the dark cast with a cover-up that matches your skin tone perfectly in a triangular formation. Skip using any kind of highlighter, since you don't want to draw attention to your eyes. Instead, opt for a bold lip color.
4. You have a drink within 90 minutes of falling asleep and never enter the cell regenerating period in REM sleep.
There are four different stages of sleep: Stages one and two, which are when you're in between being awake and being asleep, and stages three and four, which are when rapid eye movement (REM) occurs and cell regeneration happens. Alcohol is referred to as a REM sleep inhibitor, because consuming as little as two servings within 90 minutes of your bedtime will prevent your system from functioning optimally the next day - and jump-starts the domino effect of crepe-y looking skin, a sallow complexion, and dry skin.
5. Your devices keep you up and make you look tired in the a.m.
It's hard to deny a good Instagram session or reading a book on your tablet before bed, but scrolling through your glowing device before you count sheep is doing more harm to your skin than you think.
"Even if you dim the brightness on your device, you're still being exposed to blue daylight spectrum light, which is the color of the sun," Dr. Robbins says. "It's stimulating and energizing to your system because your circadian rhythm is right behind your eyeball, which reads the blue light and impacts your melatonin levels, keeping you awake." If you have to look at your phone or iPad at night, Dr. Robbins recommends downloading F. Luxe, which is a free software program that warms up your computer display at night, giving off red light waves instead of blue, which is relaxing and will help you fall asleep easier. In general, avoid technology 90 minutes before you go to bed and install General Electric PM Light Bulbs (these give off a really low amount of blue light, so the light won't keep you up) in your bedroom to ensure a good night's sleep and great skin.
6. Your sheets are wreaking havoc on your skin.
If the sheets you sleep on are a low thread count and rough to the touch, they could be wrecking your complexion. How? Not-so-soft fabrics don't provide the slip your skin needs to move about freely over the pillow as you toss and turn throughout the night, and can pull the skin slightly, contributing to fine lines and wrinkles over time. Plus, the friction from your face on a cotton pillowcase, for example, could also trigger breakouts. "You spend up to a third of your life sleeping, so it's important for your bedroom environment to be a big part of your skin care routine," Dr. Robbins says. Even if you don't want to pay for really expensive sheets, she recommends going to a luxury sheet purveyor and purchasing even the lowest thread count of pima cotton, since they'll be better than the usual option you might be getting at a department store: They're better quality and will stay softer longer. One of her favorite sheet companies: Matouk. You can also pick up two silk pillowcases from 100% Pure Silk at an affordable price here, which would be just as effective.
7. You can get under-eye bags.
If you lie on your stomach, liquid can pool in the trough of your under-eye throughout the night and cause puffiness that you won't want to wake up to. To combat this, slip on a thick sleep mask, that'll help prop up your head to keep the fluid in your body flowing downward, instead of pooling under your eyes. If you're reading this and currently have under-eye bags, grab two soaked green tea bags and rest them under your eyes for five minutes to help reduce the puffiness.
8. Stress + no sleep = stressed out skin that isn't afraid to show it.
Your skin is the window to what's going on in your body internally, so if you're not sleeping and your system isn't functioning properly, you're going to notice the aftermath on your face (i.e., dry, flaky skin; a dull complexion, breakouts - you know, all the super-fun stuff). If you're feeling especially stressed (or even a little bit), Dr. Robbins recommends exercising, especially between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Working out in general releases endorphins (mood elevators) that help release stress, but exercising during this time period in the evening specifically - even if it's in the comfort of your own home - sets you up for a good night's sleep because it not only leaves you less stressed, you'll be even more tired and ready for bed, she adds.
If you don't get the chance to go to the gym, you can also use your skin care routine as your bedtime ritual, breathing deeply as you remove your makeup and apply a calming night cream. You can also develop a short meditation, since it helps put you to sleep quicker. If meditation isn't your thing, apply aromatherapy oils to your temples to help you power down and reduce stress or write thank-you notes, since the act of being grateful can help you de-stress.
By Carly Cardellino
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