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Glowing Skin: The Link between Sleep and Healthy Skin

Scientists have finally confirmed what most of us have suspected, but were not quite sure about: a good night’s sleep does more than 10-step skincare to glowing skin. It has everything to do with collagen. Specifically, in the study, published in Nature Cell Biology, researchers found that collagen repairs itself while we sleep. Seems like one of the biggest secrets to better complexion is as simple as taking a nap?

How it works

During the study, researchers discovered that we actually have two types of collagen fibers — one is relatively thicker than the other.

The thicker type of fibers:

  • Form at the age of 17

  • And remain more or less in tact for the rest of our lives.

The thinner type, deemed as “sacrificial”:

  • Breaks down when we place our skin under stress (be it sun exposure, alcohol, air pollution, stress or lack of sleep)

  • Replenishes at night while we sleep.

To conduct the research, scientists studied the collagen fibers in mice, observing them for two days every four hours. They found that the thinner type of collagen fiber repaired itself before combining with the other permanent fibers when mice slept. So basically “thinner” collagen protects the skin from the wear and tear our skin cells experience daily.

Did you know?

Collagen is our most abundant protein, making up around 30% of total protein content. It ensures the integrity, elasticity, and strength of our body’s connective tissues and maintains the form and function of our skin.

Collagen is what gives our skin that firm youthful glow. The AAD states that as we age,  collagen levels tend to decrease, our skin loses its firmness and begins to sag. All this leads to duller skin and more wrinkles.

Lack of sleep causes the stress hormone cortisol to be released, which fosters inflammation in the skin, causing acne, psoriasis, eczema, and other skin disorders.

The mind-skin connection

Mental health is affected by lack of sleep no less than our appearance. When you don’t get the 7-9 hours of quality sleep you need, it can negatively influence your energy level and emotional condition.

Did you know?

Researchers say people with insomnia have greater levels of depression and anxiety than those who sleep normally. They are 10 times as likely to have clinical depression and 17 times as likely to have clinical anxiety.

The more a person experiences insomnia and the more frequently they wake at night as a result, the higher the chances of developing anxiety.

“Sleep is vital, but unfortunately often neglected, a component of normal body functioning. Lack of sleep may aggravate or in some cases even cause certain mental health disorders”, says Dr. Mark Zager, MD, ESA Care. “Certain emotional states, in turn, can lead to increased inflammation in the body.”

Consider what happens to your skin when you feel anxious or worried. Some people admit that the condition of the skin worsens when they’re anxious, stressed or depressed. Researchers say anxiety and stress are common triggers that cause eczema, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and other skin disorders to flare up, which then creates more anxiety and stress, which then leads to more flare-ups. Seems like a vicious cycle…

Evening routine to wake up with glowing skin

Glowing Skin

Having glowing skin when you wake up feels great. It is a kind of testament to how healthy you are, it means you’re sufficiently hydrated, you’ve had enough sleep, and your emotional condition is okay. Along with topical skincare, you can help support your natural collagen levels by getting a good night’s sleep. If you haven’t prioritized quality sleep yet, consider your bedtime routine for better sleep. Here are the tips for creating mindful sleep routine:

Tip #1 Shut down activities that stimulate your mind 

Such activities as late-night work, Instagram or Facebook scrolling, reading alarming news, watching TV, etc. do not help you relax and feel calmer before heading off to sleep. Instead, you feel more and more tense due to stimulating your brain with more information and racing thoughts. Rather than doing your nightly scrolling, consider using the “worry diary” technique if your mind is running in overdrive. Take some time to identify and write down what triggers your anxiety, stress, tension, or worry. It will help you manage your emotions better and eventually improves your overall mental well-being.

Tip #2 Avoid screen devices at night

90% of people in the U.S. admit using their device during the hour before going to sleep. Most of them believe it helps them relax at night. Those nighttime users do not even realize the extent to which this makes it harder for them to sleep. The blue wavelengths in our phones, tablets, and laptops mess with our circadian rhythm by suppressing the body’s release of melatonin, the hormone our body secretes to calm us and prepare us for sleep. So when your body runs low on melatonin, you can experience insomnia, tiredness during the day and irritability. That’s why it makes sense to set some ground rules for using devices closer to bedtime.

Tip #3 Avoid eating a heavy meal late in the evening 

To avoid the negative effects of eating at night, such as altered hormone function, inflammations, impairments in blood sugar regulation, eat dinner at least 2 to 3 hours before going to bed.  If you feel hungry later in the evening and need a snack, choose a small, high-protein snack instead of something carbohydrate-heavy. Go to bed satiated but not overly full.

Tip #4 Make sure your bedroom is sufficiently dark, quiet enough and well-aired

Create a sleep environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable, free of interruptions and well-ventilated. It may be worth investing in room-darkening shades or blinds if your bedroom is too light — a dark bedroom is best. Some people find earplugs to be helpful.

Tip #5 Do not sleep on your stomach

Have you ever noticed sleep lines that are caused by sleeping positions that squash your face on one side? Now imagine eight pounds, the average head weight, on your face. Hm…looks like a recipe for crinkled up morning skin. Sleeping with a face down on the pillow can also cause breakouts the following day. So, consider other sleeping positions rather than sleeping on your stomach.

If you cannot consider sleeping in any other position than on your tummy, invest in some satin or silk pillowcases. This smooth fabric material glides easily and prevents wrinkles creating less friction than cotton. Here’s an added benefit: silk adjusts to your room’s temperature, keeping your pillowcase cool in the summer and warm in the winter!

Tip #6 Take extra care of your skin before going to bed

Before your bedtime routine, take off your makeup, cleanse and exfoliate your skin, then moisturize it. Make taking care of your face a priority every evening, even if you’re coming home late. Will it take ten minutes to wash your face and apply moisturizing cream? Then put down your phone and build this time into your bedtime routine.


When it comes to your beauty routine, sleep is crucial. The key is to get enough sleep — 7 to 9 hours each night. During this time your body repairs itself and recovers, which leads to a long list of benefits for how your skin looks and how your body feels. If you’re getting fewer than 6 hours, it’s likely affecting how you look and feel. It’s not only the amount of sleep that matters but the quality of it too. Not all sleep is equally restorative. Consider implementing some tips mentioned above and see if it changes the quality of your sleep.

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