The Truth About Beauty Sleep

When it comes to your beauty routine, sleep may be the closest thing there is to a fountain of youth. Your body repairs itself and recovers while you snooze, and that leads to a long list of benefits for your looks. The key is to get enough shut-eye -- 7 to 9 quality hours each night.

If you’re getting fewer than 6 hours, it’s likely affecting your appearance, says Michael Breus, PhD, a board-certified sleep specialist. Start getting 1 to 3 more hours of Zzz's, and you could see some improvement in as little as a day. Keep it up, and “within 2 to 3 weeks, people will notice that you’re sleeping better by the way you look,” Breus says.

Here are the six beauty benefits of getting enough rest.

1. Fewer Wrinkles

Skin makes new collagen when you sleep, which prevents sagging. “That’s part of the repair process,” says Patricia Wexler, MD, a dermatologist in New York. More collagen means skin is plumper and less likely to wrinkle.

Only getting 5 hours a night can lead to twice as many fine lines as sleeping 7 would. It also leaves skin drier, which can make lines more visible, Wexler says.

2. A Glowing Complexion

Your body boosts blood flow to the skin while you snooze, which means you wake to a healthy glow. Skimp on sleep and your complexion can look drab, ashen, or lifeless.

“Sleep deprivation causes a decrease in blood flow to the skin surrounding your face,” Breus says. “Skin becomes dull, and you don’t get those rosy cheeks anymore.”

3. Brighter, Less Puffy Eyes

Chances are, you’ve had dark circles or bags under your eyes after a night of too few Zzz’s.

“Puffy eyes are one of the first things we see when we don’t sleep,” says Doris Day, MD, a clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center. Get enough shut-eye and you'll have less puffiness under your eyes

Stay well-hydrated and elevate your head with an extra pillow at night, too. That can also help reduce swelling.

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Plenty of rest can also minimize dark circles. When blood isn’t flowing well -- which happens when you’re low on sleep -- it can collect under eyes and become visible, since the skin there is so thin. 

Discoloration under eyes can also be caused by genes, age, and increased melanin (the brown pigment in skin that causes it to tan in the sun). If this is the case, sleep deprivation can make your under-eye issue worse, Breus says.

4. Healthier, Fuller Hair

Hair loss, breakage, damage, and even growth can all be affected by lack of sleep, Breus says. Hair follicles (where hair growth begins) gain nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from blood flow. Since blood flow decreases when we’re short on shut-eye, “hair gets less food, it weakens, and it has difficulty growing,” Breus says.  

Lack of Zzz's can also lead to more stress, Wexler says. “Stress causes an increase in the hormone cortisol, which can cause you to lose hair.” 

5. Happier, Healthier Appearance

Being short on sleep can cause the corners of your mouth to droop, making you look sadder than you do after a good night’s rest.

“When you’re tired, your facial expressions change in subtle and consistent ways. We tend to furrow and frown more,” Day says. “When people say, ‘You look tired,’ it can be because of these expressions.”

Red, swollen eyes, dark circles, sagging eyelids, and paler skin can also signal to others that you’re exhausted.

People who don't get enough rest are also seen as less healthy than when they’re rested. 

6. Products Work Better

Your skin can focus on repairing itself while you sleep, since it isn’t defending itself from sun and free radicals (harmful molecules from the environment). Blood flow is also more consistent, and this helps your skin benefit from the flesh-repairing ingredients in your beauty products, Wexler says.

Skin also loses more water when you sleep than it does during the day. Apply a creamier moisturizer before bed and drink plenty of water during the day to help your complexion stay hydrated overnight, Day says.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on November 19, 2015

Sources

SOURCES:

Doris Day, MD, clinical associate professor of dermatology, New York University Langone Medical Center; author, Forget the Facelift, Avery, 2006.

Michael Breus, PhD, board-certified sleep specialist; author of Beauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep, Plume, 2007.

Patricia Wexler, MD, dermatologist, New York City.

Mayo Clinic: “Wrinkles.”

Oyetakin-White, P. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, January 2015.

Park, SR. Skin Research and Technology, September 8, 2015.

American Academy of Dermatology: “How Hair Grows.”

Sundelin, T. Sleep, Sept. 1, 2013.

Axelsson, J. BMJ, Dec. 14, 2010.

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