A Lesson In Beauty Sleep

27 Feb

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In 2010 the world was presented with the results of a Swedish study which revealed that a night’s sleep really can influence how beautiful others find us the following day [1]. Two years later, in the face of the science, we’re still depriving ourselves of sleep and potentially our good looks.
With news reports consistently claiming that we are getting less sleep than ever before, it seems like a good time to weigh up the benefits of having a few extra hours sleep each night against tired looks and diminished mental capabilities due to sleep loss [2].

Sleep stimulates renewal…

There’s a reason why our skin tends to look worse after a sleepless night – sleep is thought to be a time when regeneration and enhanced healing take place throughout the body, including skin tissue [3,4]. Whilst many scrubs claim to help refresh the top layers of skin by removing dead tissue, sleep (or a lack thereof) may in fact impact much more than the top layer.

Unfortunately, not everything can be fixed by a slathering of moisturizer, which unlike sleep will also cost a pretty penny!

…and growth

Sleep kicks off the release of ‘human growth hormone’ (HGH), a hormone which enables the hair and nails to grow. The release of HGH peaks during nighttime sleep [5] and any change in the quality or the length of your sleep has been shown to have the potential to affect its release.

Zzz is for zit protection

It’s a fact that sleep loss reduces our body’s immune response [6], not only to sickness [7], but also to those dreaded zits, pimples and other skin conditions you might be susceptible to. Cutting back on your sleep could therefore lead to your body’s defences weakening against those beauty threats.

Lack of sleep has also been tied to stress which, in turn, has been strongly linked to the appearance of pimples [8].

Sleep helps you feel better about yourself

Believe it or not, both the quality and the quantity of your sleep can affect your mood. In fact, it’s often the first thing to suffer after a night of inadequate sleep [2]. Indeed, the results of the Great British Sleep Survey showed that poor sleepers are twice as likely to suffer from low mood than good sleepers and 5 times as likely to feel alone [9].

Mood has also been shown to affect perceived physical attractiveness, particularly in women [9]. Research also tells us that sad faces are seen to be decidedly less attractive than happy or even neutrals ones [10]. It’s understandable though, how can you radiate sunshine and rainbows on 5 hours of sleep a night?

Sweet dreams!

A good foundation may make your skin look good in the short term, but the benefits of good quality sleep may last a lot longer. So, why not embrace sleep as an important part of your beauty regime and let it work its magic as a natural aid to healthy, beautiful skin?

About this article: Rosie works at Sleepio.com, an online sleep improvement programme featuring personalised Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques proven to help you overcome even long term insomnia.

Over six weekly online sessions, you are guided through the latest CBT techniques, automatically personalised to your problems and progress by ‘The Prof’, your animated virtual sleep expert, and supported by an online community of other users.


Each week there is a live group session with a real sleep expert, email reminders to help you stick to the course, and there is a library of 100+ expert articles for those who want to look ‘under the bonnet’.

[1] Axelsson, J., Sundelin, T., Ingre, M., Van Someren, E.J.W., Olsson, A. & Lekander, M. (2011). Beauty sleep: experimental study on the perceived health and attractiveness of sleep deprived people. British Medical Journal, doi: 10.1136/bmj.c6614
[2] Lim, J. & Dinges, D.F. (2008). Sleep deprivation and vigilant attention. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1129, 305-322.
[3] Adam, K. & Oswald, I. (1984). Sleep helps healing. British Medical Journal, 289, 1400-1401.
[4] Adam K. & Oswald I. (1977). Sleep is for tissue restoration. Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of London, 11(4), 376-388.
[5] Takahashi, Y., Kipnis, D.M. & Daughaday, W.H. (1968). Growth hormone secretion during sleep. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 47(9), 2079-2090.
[6] Irwin, M., Mascovich, A., Gillin, J.C., Willoughby, R., Pike, J. & Smith, T.L. (1994). Partial sleep deprivation reduces natural killer cell activity in humans. Psychosomatic Medicine, 56(6), 493-498.
[7] Irwin, M. (2002). Effects of sleep and sleep loss on immunity and cytokines. Brain, Behavior and Immunity, 16(5), 503-512.
[8] Masataka, O. (2000). Case report on dermatology. 4. Treatment of each case of skin diseases. Explanation and treatment of pimple. Current Therapy, 18(10), 1927-1931.
[9] The Great British Sleep Survey Report, 2012. Available at: http://www.greatbritishsleepsurvey.com/2012report/.
[10] Mueser, K.T., Grau, B.W., Sussman, S., Rosen, A.J. (1984). You’re only as pretty as you feel: facial expression as a determinant of physical attractiveness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46(2), 469-478.


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