How Sleep Can Affect Your Complexion

October 31, 2022
Jessica Khorsandi
By: Jessica Khorsandi | by L'Oréal
person sleeping in bed

Cleansing, moisturizing, and layering on sunscreen are a great start if you’re hoping to have great-looking skin. But, there are other factors that can contribute to that sought-after glow. One key aspect of your routine that can affect the way your skin looks? Sleep. Yes, that’s right, getting the recommended amount of sleep each night is important if you want your complexion to appear radiant and well-rested. Think your sleeping patterns have no effect on your skin? Think again. Ahead, a breakdown on what can happen to your skin if you aren’t catching enough Zzz’s at night, with insights from Dr. Nava Greenfield, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City.

Why Is Sleep Important for Your Skin?

There are plenty of reasons to get a good night’s sleep beyond what it can do for your skin, but let’s focus on those benefits in particular. It’s during deep sleep that skin undergoes its repair and regeneration process.

“Health, nutrition, stress — all of these have an affect on the health of your body and your skin,” says Dr. Greenfield. “Sleep is a time for rejuvenation and repair for your skin. Sleep is essential for the proper functioning of skin.”

Night after night, if you’re not getting the adequate amount of sleep, you are stripping down that precious regeneration time, which can cause your skin to look worse for wear.

“Lack of sleep, studies have found, is associated with less skin hydration and ability to repair from UV damage,” says Dr. Greenfield.

To what extent, exactly, can a lack of sleep affect your skin? Let’s break it down for you:

Dull-Looking Skin

As mentioned above, it’s during deep sleep that our surface skin cells undergo repair. If you cut that time short, you might be left with fatigued, tired-looking skin.

Dry Skin

While we sleep, our body’s hydration rebalances. If you strip that time away, it can have an effect on the moisture levels in your skin and cause an imbalance. Less moisture = drier skin.<

Visible Signs of Aging

When you don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t get a chance to refresh and renew itself. Dull-looking skin and dryness may occur as a result and both of these skincare concerns can cause more noticeable signs of skin aging, like crow’s feet and fine lines.

Dark Circles

Have you ever woken up from too-few hours of sleep to more pronounced dark circles and under-eye bags? Lack of sleep can lead to poor water balance and result in dark circles and puffy eyes.

Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

Now that we know how lack of sleep can wreak havoc on a complexion, here are some helpful tips — thanks to the National Sleep Foundation — for those who have trouble getting a good night’s rest.

1. Stick to a sleep schedule. Regulate your internal clock by going to bed and waking up around the same time every night — even on weekends.

2. Make your bed. Yes, it could make a difference. Recent studies from the National Sleep Foundation show that there might be a correlation between a clean sleeping environment and how well we sleep throughout the night. While research on this matter is still fairly new, it’s a good idea to clean your sheets often and make your bed in the morning.

3. Steer clear of afternoon naps. If you find yourself having trouble catching some Zzz’s, it may be helpful to cut out short naps during the day.

4. Avoid heavy meals and caffeine before bed. Eating big meals right before bed can cause discomfort from indigestion and make it harder to fall asleep. Try not to consume heavy meals for two to three hours before bedtime. If you’re hungry, reach for a light snack up to 45 minutes before shut-eye.

5. Keep electronics away from arm’s reach. If you have a habit of browsing through your social media feed before bed, it could be time to curb the habit. For some, using electronic devices such as a laptop or cellphone can make it hard to fall asleep due to the particular type of light emanating from the screens.

6. Exercise. Try to go for a brisk jog or a walk around the park at least once per day. Remember: Any activity is better than none. Go out and get moving!

7. Set the room to a cool, comfortable temperature: When you’re drowsy, your body temperature goes down and then rises again once morning comes. To avoid restlessness throughout the night, the National Sleep Foundation recommends setting the thermostat to 65 degrees in your bedroom.

8. Sleep in light clothing. Speaking of temperature — make sure your clothes are comfortable and light enough to wear throughout the night. Now that we know temperature makes a difference, it’s important not to counteract a cool room with clothing that’s too warm. The National Sleep Foundation recommends wearing cotton pajamas to bed.

The Best Skincare Products to Wear While You Sleep

Now that you know that getting a good night’s rest is essential to your overall well-being, why not take it to the next level with an overnight mask that nourishes your skin while you snooze? Here, we share the best overnight face masks and night creams to apply before bed.

CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream

With ceramides and peptides, this night cream is packed with ingredients to hydrate and soothe your skin. Apply before bed to get all the anti-aging, firming and revitalizing benefits this cream has to offer. Sweet dreams!

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Mask

Formulated with 10.5% squalane, this creamy overnight face mask works to replenish and support your skin’s moisture barrier. As a result, you’ll experience long-lasting hydration and smooth, healthy-looking skin.

Lancôme Advanced Génifique Night Cream

Lack of sleep, high stress and pollution can start to take a toll on your complexion. Kick your skin back into shape with a luxe night cream that leaves your skin feeling energized. The formula — which contains ceramides — will melt into your skin, helping to reinforce the skin’s barrier. According to the brand, it locks in hydration for up to 72 hours.

SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Masque

Is your skin looking dehydrated and stressed? Hydrate it overnight with SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Masque! The gel-based formula is enriched with vitamin B5 and hyaluronic acid and is ideal for all skin types. Upon use, the formula works to help restore the skin’s optimal moisture balance to maintain a radiant, healthy appearance.


Additional reporting by Trishna Rikhy

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