We've had promises that expensive caviar, sheet masks and professional facials will make us into the most beautiful versions of ourselves. But what if the most effective beauty remedy was actually free? Sleep! We checked in with the latest research to share some of the beauty benefits of pillow time.
A study conducted in 2010 in Sweden asked strangers to rate photos of 23 participants on attractiveness after both a good and bad night's sleep. The photos taken of participants after a poor night's sleep were rated less healthy, less appealing to hang out with and less attractive. From an evolutionary perspective, humans are disease-avoidant. Tired people look unwell and they're more susceptible to illness so we find them less attractive.
Researchers in a 2014 study found that individuals who regularly slept well – between 7 to 9 hours – had significantly lower clinically-validated skin aging scores than poor sleepers. When we sleep, the body experiences an increase in growth hormone release, thought to be associated with the fasting state the body enters overnight. Growth hormone helps maintain the skin's collagen matrix, giving the appearance of youthfulness.
Skin cells have a higher rate of mitosis (or regeneration) at night so are better at recovering from adverse effects. Individuals in the 2014 study who slept well had better recovery 24 hours after exposure to ultraviolet light (mimicking sun exposure) than those who had slept poorly.
Well, you probably knew this one. Lack of sleep causes the blood vessels under the eyes to dilate and they appear darker. The skin under our eyes is particularly thin so it's especially apparent here. Dilated vessels also sometimes leak fluid into the skin, causing it to appear puffy.
The stress hormone, cortisol, increases inflammation in the body. One of the best ways to prepare against the stresses of everyday life is a good night's sleep. Without enough sleep, cortisol's inflammatory effects can cause flare-ups in acne, psoriasis, and general sensitivity.
If none of the rest of the beauty benefits of sleep have you convinced, this one should do it. Researchers have found that the more sleep you have, the higher you rate your own attractiveness.
Now, please excuse us while we slip into our pajamas… Healthy Matters is off to get our share of beauty sleep!
Royal Society Open Science: Negative effects of restricted sleep on facial appearance and social appeal
Clinical and Experimental Dermatology: Does poor sleep quality affect skin ageing?
US National Center for Biotechnology Information: Brain-Skin Connection: Stress, Inflammation and Skin Aging
This article was independently written by Healthy Matters. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.
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