Sleep Deprivation Linked To Aging Skin, Study Suggests

07/24/2013 12:40 pm ET
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Now here's another good reason to get enough sleep: sleep deprivation also could cause your skin to age faster, according to a new study.

A clinical trial commissioned by Estée Lauder and conducted by physician-scientists at University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center found that poor sleepers demonstrated increased signs of skin aging. They also gave a worse assessment of their own skin and facial appearance than people who sleep well.

The research team, led by Dr. Elma Baron, presented their data this spring at the International Investigative Dermatology Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland.

"Our study is the first to conclusively demonstrate that inadequate sleep is correlated with reduced skin health and accelerates skin aging. Sleep deprived women show signs of premature skin aging and a decrease in their skin's ability to recover after sun exposure," Baron said in a press release. "Insufficient sleep has become a worldwide epidemic. While chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to medical problems such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and immune deficiency, its effects on skin function have previously been unknown."

The study involved 60 pre-menopausal women between the ages of 30 and 49, with half of them falling into the poor quality sleep category. Researchers evaluated the women's skin and conducted a variety of skin challenge tests including ones involving UV light exposure. The classification was made on the basis of average duration of sleep and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, a standard questionnaire-based assessment of sleep quality.

Researchers found that those who didn't sleep well exhibited more signs of skin aging including fine lines, uneven pigmentation and reduced skin elasticity. The researchers also found that those who enjoyed quality sleep were more quick to recover from stressors to the skin such as sun and environmental toxins.

And, in another piece of bad news for those who don't sleep well, researchers found that poor quality sleepers were much more likely to be overweight. For example, 23 percent of good quality sleepers were obese compared with 44 percent of poor quality sleepers.

"This research shows for the first time, that poor sleep quality can accelerate signs of skin aging and weaken the skin's ability to repair itself at night," said Dr. Daniel Yarosh, a senior vice president at The Estée Lauder Companies, in a press release. "These connections between sleep and skin aging, now supported with solid scientific data, will have a profound effect on how we study skin and its functions. We see these findings as yet another way we can direct our scientific research toward the real needs of our customers who want to look and feel their best."

The amount of sleep one needs depends on a person's age. Most experts recommend that adults get between seven and eight hours of sleep per night.

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