WebMD 5: Our Expert's A's to Your Top Snooze Q's
Our sleep expert answers WebMD community members' questions about shut-eye.
3. Is there really such a thing as beauty sleep? continued...
Beyond that, hydration and skin elasticity can change due to sleep deprivation. During deep sleep, your body releases growth hormone (GH), which affects almost every cell, renewing the skin and bones and bringing back organ and tissue function to more youthful levels.
For many, GH acts like a natural cosmetic, restoring skin elasticity, smoothing wrinkles, and tending to hair and nails. Conversely, lack of sleep speeds up arterial aging -- affecting the blood vessels that nourish the body and the skin -- which has a direct relationship on how your skin looks and feels. Puffiness or bags under the eyes can be caused by fluid retention, loss of skin firmness and elasticity, or fatigue, many of which are triggered by poor sleep. Dark circles under the eyes can also be due to poor blood circulation -- again, the result of lack of sleep.
4. Are sleep patterns inherited?
Absolutely. Research shows there are genetic components to not only sleep disorders but also overall sleep quality. If your mom or dad, for example, was a bad sleeper and your grandmother was a bad sleeper, you might have a high proclivity for sleeping poorly.
For sleep disorders, the cranial facial structure (meaning the skull and front of your face) is passed down from generation to generation. This may have a lot to do with your risk of developing sleep apnea, which can affect the quality and quantity of your sleep.
5. Do naps help make up for lost sleep?
They do. I'm a big proponent of naps. The only time I don't recommend people nap is if they have insomnia -- difficulty either falling asleep or maintaining sleep.
New evidence suggests that the ability to fall asleep is directly related to the last time you were asleep. You have to build up "sleep pressure" over the course of the day. So if the last time you were awake was 6 a.m., your pressure is going to be far higher at night than if the last time you woke up was 2:30 in the afternoon. Taking a nap halfway through the day reduces that pressure, and that can make it difficult to sleep at night.
The goal of a nap is to dip the body and mind briefly into stage 2 sleep, which can last for about 20 minutes, or to make it through one entire sleep cycle. Napping longer can leave you with sleep inertia -- that groggy feeling where you feel worse than before you napped. That's why I recommend 30-minute power naps or 90-minute restorative naps, both of which can leave you feeling refreshed and energized.