We all have those days when we wake up in the morning and count down the hours until it's bedtime again, and we all know how important sleep is for our general wellbeing. Our bodies need sleep to rest and recuperate after a long day, our muscles need rest in order to regain strength and our brains need rest to concentrate and retain full cognitive function. But did you know that sleep is just as important for your skin?
What happens to your skin when you’re asleep?
We should all be getting the recommended amount of seven to nine hours of good quality sleep per night. This time allows our skin time to repair and rejuvenate, and prepare for the next day.
While we sleep our skin enters into what is known as repair mode. During this time the skin repairs damage, and renews cells to keep a youthful appearance. Having too little sleep can prematurely age the skin, and give it a dull appearance. So the more time allocated to sleeping, ultimately, the better for your skin.
We know that our skin reflects our wider heath, and getting a good amount of sleep is hugely beneficial to a healthy lifestyle. Stress can also be a contributing factor to deteriorating health, but it can also be detrimental to our skin. Dr Gohora* explains that sleeping can reduce the amount of stress hormones our skin produces which can be the cause of sullen and puffy skin. Stress can also cause inflammation of the skin which can result in breakouts. Allowing your body time to relax and rest can not only leave us more able to tackle daily challenges, but also improve our skin too!
Dr Au* explains that the temperature of our skin also increases as we sleep as well as becoming slightly more acidic. This can cause our skin to become drier, meaning a heavier moisturiser is needed to compensate. It’s important to take your skin type into consideration as heavy moisturisers could cause breakouts in oilier skin types, and drier skin may need even more hydration still. Deciding on the best moisturiser for you is often trial and error until you find the perfect one for you, or consulting a dermatologist can also help.
Sleeping gives our skin a vital break from the environmental damages faced by day to day life such as UV rays, pollution, temperature changes, and makeup. While we’re on the topic - don’t forget to wear a good SPF everyday, even if it’s not sunny! But the break from these damaging effects is vital for the skin. Like our body, our skin needs a break from the daily onslaught, this happens when we sleep. So remember to get those zz’s in!
Get your bed right
The way we sleep is just as important as the products we apply on a nightly basis. Sleeping on your back is the preferable way to rest up as it prevents creases forming on our faces and necks as well as allowing the skin to breathe. Sleeping this way means there is less pressure on your face, which helps circulation as well as letting your skin breathe. If you sleep on your back, it's best to elevate your head slightly too, this can be achieved by simply adding an extra pillow. Elevation helps fluids drain away from the face and prevents puffiness -Yay!
Many people sleep on their front with their face squished up against their pillow - come on who's guilty of this? But this can actually be very damaging to your skin. It doesn’t allow the skin to breathe and can cause breakouts due to the back and forth of bacteria from your pillow to your face. It also reduced circulation and can be the cause of puffiness in the morning.
Sleeping on your side can also negatively affect your skin during its vital repair mode. It can actually flatten one side of your face due to the pressure for an extended period of time. It can also cause your skincare products to transfer over onto your pillow, rather than absorbing into your skin, and who wants to waste all that skincare goodness on your pillow?
It may take some time to train yourself to sleep on your back, so in the meantime, you could invest in some silk or satin pillowcases. They're less abrasive when compared to cotton, which helps to minimise skin irritation and therefore breakouts. Even if you don’t decide to invest in a new pillowcase, ensure you’re changing your existing one regularly as they can gather bacteria and cause breakouts if they’re used for long periods.
Removing all of your makeup before bed is a well known rule. Come on, who’s still just using makeup wipes in 2021, own up? Ensuring all of your makeup and any dirt from the day is removed gives the skin a clean canvas to work with to repair itself and allows all of our lovely skincare products to do their job successfully. A gentle cleanser such as the WBCO Bog Myrtle and Lime Balancing Cleanser is ideal for removing this dirt while not stripping the skin of its essential natural oils.
Don’t forget your eyes and lips! They also need a little extra love on a nighttime. Applying a heavier cream to these areas at night means they are allowed the opportunity to repair. The delicate skin around the eyes particularly benefits from a good night cream which can prevent puffiness and premature ageing.
If you use retinols, Dr Hamdan* recommends you use these at night as they should not be mixed with the harmful UV rays we are exposed to during the day. They can be extremely beneficial to some people in helping improve cell turnover and pigmentation. As the skin is already in repair mode during the night, retinols can help facility the repair process further.
We previously discussed the usefulness of a heavier moisturiser on a nighttime to help hydrate and rejuvenate the skin, but these heavier creams also help to lock in the moisture and goodness from products applied beforehand. Applying heavier and more hydrating products at night allows us to be slightly more relaxed about skincare during the day when we might be more concerned about makeup application. So really a good night's sleep is just the final step in your skincare routine. Check out our blog on our Prep Mists to learn more about the importance of skin hydration.
Now put your phone away and get to sleep.
*Dr Sonoa Au, MD, Advanced Dermatology, PC in Brooklyn NY.
*Dr Mona Gohora, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Yale School of Medicine.
*Dr Lamees Hamdan MD, Founder of skincare brand Shiffa.