Sleeping Beauty may have had the ultimate secret to looking great and maintaining that soft, dewy skin of a twentysomething. This week, when the Los Angeles Times reported on the “best skincare treatment,” readers might have been surprised to learn that it wasn’t a new cosmeceutical or $500-per-ounce skin cream. It doesn’t get any cheaper or more universally accessible than this: sleep.
The article pointed out a few good facts that few people bear in mind:
- As we age, lack of sleep affects us more deeply and shows up more prominently on our faces (which explains why dark circles, fine lines, and pallid complexions aren’t a problem in our twenties despite the late nights, but can be later on).
- Sleep induces the production of collagen, a key ingredient in firm, youthful skin.
- The skin’s capacity to hold water is enhanced by sleep, thereby keeping skin moisturized and supple.
- Sleep deprivation can sting the immune system, leaving one vulnerable to rashes and skin-related problems.
- Growth hormone peaks during deep sleep, and this hormone plays a central role in initiating cellular repair.
This can be tough medicine to swallow, though, for the millions of people who just can’t get six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. No wonder the multi-billion dollar cosmetic industry is in high demand. It’s true that when skin benefits from enough sleep, products and treatments work more effectively to provide better results.
I concur with how Dr. Howard Murad, a dermatologist quoted in the article, puts it:
“You cannot treat the skin as an isolated organ, you treat the whole person. Imagine your window frame needs to be replaced. You can just replace the frame or you can find out what damaged it in the first place, say termites or bad plumbing. Similarly, when the skin looks gray and sallow and you have dark circles around your eyes, you can use cold compresses and makeup as a temporary fix or address the underlying issues, such as sleep deprivation.”
Unfortunately, temporary fixes can seem easier than getting a good night’s sleep. But imagine all the money you’d save if you just took this advice to heart—er, to bed. You’d do more for yourself than just enhance your looks. You’d feel better, too, from the inside out.
Michael J. Breus, PhD
The Sleep Doctor™