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Remember Sleeping Beauty? Do you think good sleep contributed to her beauty?

Yes I know Sleeping Beauty is a fictional character but recently I’ve been thinking more and more about the effects of sleep (or lack of!) on our skin. This short blog post isn’t intended to make you feel guilty if you happen to be a poor sleeper, goodness knows I often fall into this category! We are living in such a busy stressful time, it’s almost impossible to totally switch off. Do you sleep with your phone next to your bed? Confession time…..I do! Just in case that important email comes through but actually is it really that important that it can’t wait until working hours? What are working hours if your work involves social media? I think writing this post might be slightly therapeutic for me, a self-confessed workaholic, but hopefully it will give you some food for thought too.

When I see patients in clinic, quite frequently they will attribute a flare in their skin complaint to an increase in stress. For example I may see someone with eczema who has recently changed jobs and noticed that their usual medication isn’t controlling their symptoms. Rarely do I hear a patient say that they think lack of sleep has made their skin misbehave. Changes in season, environment, skincare products and stress nearly always come up in conversation but lack of sleep is less frequently named as a culprit. Is this because poor sleep has become the norm?

For years studies have shown the link between lack of sleep and health issues such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and depression. There are fewer studies proving the effect on skin but in 2013 Estee Lauder commissioned a study at the University Hospitals Case Medical Center to prove that those with poor sleep quality had increased signs of skin ageing.

The study involved 60 women (aged 30-49), half of these women fell into the ‘poor sleepers’ category and the other half into ‘good sleepers’. Visual skin evaluations were carried out and non-invasive skin challenge tests too, these included UV light exposure and skin barrier disruption. The results indicated differences between the skin of the good and poor quality sleepers. Poor sleepers showed increased signs of skin ageing including fine lines, uneven pigmentation and reduced elasticity. The study also suggested that good sleepers recovered quicker from stressors to the skin such as sunburn.

So maybe Sleeping Beauty was onto something but bear in mind she wasn’t living in the 21st century, didn’t have a mobile phone, wasn’t active on social media, had no children and essentially didn’t work. I’m not being judgmental here, just attempting to point out that you shouldn’t be hard on yourself if you don’t get those precious 7-8 hours a night. Essentially there are so many beneficial health reasons as to why we should prioritize sleep, skin health included. Wishing you all lots of lovely sleep!

Reference- ‘Esteé Lauder Clinical Trial Finds Link between Sleep Deprivation and Skin Aging’, University Hospitals, (2013), <http://www.uhhospitals.org/about/media-news-room/current-news/2013/07/estee-lauder-clinical-trial-finds-link-between-sleep-deprivation-and-skin-aging>