Everyone knows that haggard look. If you’ve ever pulled an all-nighter or kept a late vigil in a waiting room, the effects are the same. Puffy, reddened eyes, dark circles, and overall pallor. You can’t “replace” lost sleep later, but generally your skin will return to normal within a week.
But what if you cheat yourself of a normal night’s sleep (7 to 8 hours per night) on a regular basis? When you run on too much stress and too little sleep, this has not only a short-term but also a long-term effect on your skin’s appearance.
5 ways inadequate sleep affects your skin
Blood vessels dilate more when your body is trying to compensate for fatigue. This is what causes dark circles to appear under your eyes. It’s not the skin’s surface changing color, but increased visibility of the swollen blood vessels and capillaries just beneath the skin.
Chronic insufficient sleep causes your body’s levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, to rise. Too much cortisol leads to the breakdown of collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic. And that leads to development of new fine lines and wrinkles.
Young skin is thicker, due to the natural growth hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Although it lessens with age, this hormone continues to be released during deep-sleep cycles, which occur every hour to hour and a half each night. When you skimp on sleep you miss more of these cycles, which reduces the hormone available to repair your skin.
Damp eyes can actually be a dry-eyes symptom—your eyes overproduce tears in an effort to compensate. Tears production and eye surface repair both take place during your sleep. When you don’t get enough rest, one result can be irritated eyes that appear weepy.
Again, the culprit is cortisol—the stress hormone also associated with depression. As rising cortisol from too little sleep depletes collagen stores, the tiny muscle fibers that hold skin taut and firm will stretch and sag, eventually contributing to a jowly, droopy appearance.
Instead of wasting more money on new cosmetics, maybe you need to buy yourself a bottle of better sleep! Read on for helpful tips.