Beauty: The Truth About What Happens to Your Skin While You Sleep

For something that was so greatly loved by Disney beauties (that Sleeping one, to be precise… and the Snowey one, too) an awful lot of ugliness can go on while we sleep.

And talking about ‘ugly’, excuse the no makeup photos you’ll see throughout this blog post (ahhh that sounds so harsh on myself doesn’t it!). I wanted to show you what my skin looks like after 7 hours sleep on a week night, no makeup, no editing, just stripped back bare.

After a nights sleep, pillow wrinkles beset themselves upon our cheeks, bags take up residency under our eyes and whatever bacteria lurks around our bedding chooses sleepytime to attach itself to our face.

And don’t even get me started on the things we can accidentally ingest as we sleep – even if it hasn’t been proven, it acts as food for thought. And not the tastiest of foods, either. Don’t forget that rumour about eating 8 spiders in our sleep during our lifetime…

The fact is, our skin can take a bit of a bashing while we sleep.

And no amount of miracle products we apply the next day can help if we sleep badly. So the first step towards better skin is to get enough, good-quality sleep on a regular basis. That way, you’ll have sparkling, fresh-looking skin rather than a peaky, blotchy complexion come morning.

In the rest of this post, I’m touching on a) what happens to your skin as you sleep and b) how to minimise damage and maximise healing during your sleeping hours.

Lets go!

The magic happens between 11pm and midnight.

Whether you’re asleep or not, this is when cell mitosis is at its peak (the cell division that renews at repairs skin). Cells need nutrients more than ever during this time and it’s when all the anti-aging benefits can have the most impact. This is when the real beauty sleep occurs…so if you’re still up partying at this time, or watching just one more Game of Thrones, you’re missing out!

Tip: Apply whatever anti-aging products you have in your arsenal before bed and let them work their magic while you snooze.

Your skin gets pretty thirsty.

The production of sebum, which we need to keep our skin lovely and moisturised, reaches its peak around midday. After that, it starts to get drier and drier over the course of the day and by the time we hit the sack, it can be positively parched. And without this protective layer of oil, our skin loses even more water while we sleep. It’s called epidermal water loss and it’s what steals the beauty from your beauty sleep.

Ever woken up thirsty in the middle of the night? Well, that’s just what it’s like for your skin. It gets warmer and slightly more acidic, which dries it out further. It feels dehydrated, in need of a refreshing drink, but it often has to suffer through til morning. Hence the dark circles and the pinched look you often find staring back at you from the mirror!

So be kind to your skin before tucking in. Apply a rehydrating moisturiser in the evening and keep your skin sated, all through the night.

Creases set in.

I mentioned those pesky pillow wrinkles earlier, right? Well, here’s how to avoid them: sleep on your back, with your head elevated to avoid excess fluid gathering and giving you a puffy appearance come morning.

Of course, changing your sleeping position might not be easy at first – so check out these tips to help you get a great night’s rest, no matter where or how you do it.

Some hormones rest; others get to work.

The great part about sleeping is that it gives us a break. Our mind is at peace, our body is in a rested state and our skin gets a bit of a breather for a change. For instance, cortisol – the ‘stress hormone’ that gets released frequently during the day – slows down at night, when it’s not faced with environmental ‘stress factors’ like traffic, pollution and even make-up. This is good news for our skin as cortisol can lead to thinning skin, stretch marks and discolouration (which’ll probably cause you more stress, right?!)

But we do have one hormone working in our favour while we sleep, and it’s called melatonin. Also known as the ‘sleep hormone’, melatonin makes us feel physically relaxed while acting like an antioxidant to fight age spots, fine lines and even skin cancer. What’s more, special growth hormones work to repair and regenerate collagen-producing cells during this time; giving your skin that lovely elasticity which is a sure sign of youth!

So don’t neglect your beauty sleep.

Take active measures (like cleansing your face properly and applying a thick night cream) before bed. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your skin hydrated and avoid staying up til the wee hours if you can.

Soon you’ll find yourself looking – and feeling – like a brighter, healthier person come morning!

Sweet dreams!

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