Sleeping Beauty may have had the ultimate secret to looking
great and maintaining that soft, dewy skin of a twentysomething. This week,
when the Los
Angeles Times reported on the
“best skincare treatment,” readers might have been surprised to learn that it
wasn’t a new cosmeceutical or $500-per-ounce skin cream. It doesn’t get any
cheaper or more universally accessible than this: sleep.
The article pointed out a few good facts that few people
bear in mind:
- As we age, lack of sleep affects us more deeply and shows up more prominently on our faces (which explains why dark circles, fine lines, and pallid complexions aren’t a problem in our twenties despite the late nights, but can be later on).
- Sleep induces the production of collagen, a key ingredient in firm, youthful skin.
- The skin’s capacity to hold water is enhanced by sleep, thereby keeping skin moisturized and supple.
- Sleep deprivation can sting the immune system, leaving one vulnerable to rashes and skin-related problems.
- Growth hormone peaks during deep sleep, and this hormone plays a central role in initiating cellular repair.
This can be tough medicine to swallow, though, for the
millions of people who just can’t get six to eight hours of uninterrupted
sleep. No wonder the multi-billion dollar cosmetic industry is in high demand.
It’s true that when skin benefits from enough sleep, products and treatments
work more effectively to provide better results.
I concur with how Dr. Howard Murad, a dermatologist quoted
in the article, puts it:
“You cannot treat the skin as an isolated organ, you
treat the whole person. Imagine your window frame needs to be replaced. You can
just replace the frame or you can find out what damaged it in the first place,
say termites or bad plumbing. Similarly, when the skin looks gray and sallow
and you have dark circles around your eyes, you can use cold compresses and
makeup as a temporary fix or address the underlying issues, such as sleep
Unfortunately, temporary fixes can seem easier than getting
night’s sleep. But imagine all the money you’d save if you just took this
advice to heart—er, to bed. You’d do more for yourself than just enhance your
looks. You’d feel better, too, from the inside out.
Michael J. Breus, PhD