Fatigue and sleep deprivation show up in the eyes, skin, and mouthFor years I’ve wondered if my sleep problems have affected my skin. Dark circles under the eyes—the classic sign of a bad night—have never been my particular trouble. But I’ve got other skin complaints: cuts that take a long time to heal, and white marks from nicks and scratches that never go away.

A new study conducted at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland has shown that sleep quality does indeed affect the health of human skin. Researchers found that the skin of poor sleepers showed increased signs of aging and a slower ability to recover from scratches and exposure to the sun.

“Our study is the first to conclusively demonstrate that inadequate sleep is correlated with reduced skin health and accelerates skin aging,” said lead researcher Elma Baron in a University Hospitals press release on July 17.

How the Study Was Conducted

Sixty women ages 30 to 49 participated in this study, funded by Estee Lauder. Half of them were good sleepers and the other half reported sleeping poorly.

At the start of the experiment, researchers made a visual inspection of each woman’s skin. Then the women underwent several procedures such as UV light exposure and skin barrier disruption. Investigators then observed them to see how quickly their skin recovered from these challenges.

Beauty Queens, Beware

The results aren’t pretty for those of us with insomnia. Poor sleepers

  • showed increased signs of skin aging including fine lines, uneven pigmentation, slackening of skin, and reduced elasticity
  • took significantly longer to recover from sun exposure, with redness remaining higher over 72 hours.

After a tape-stripping procedure, “the recovery of good quality sleepers was 30 percent higher than poor quality sleepers . . . demonstrating that they repair the damage more quickly.”

So what’s an aging insomniac to do? Well, if preserving our skin is important, then taking measures to improve our sleep would surely be the best defense. Me, I’m heading over to the make-up counters at Macy’s. Estee Lauder never looked so good.

Do you think your skin is affected by the quality of your sleep? How?

Posted by Lois Maharg, The Savvy Insomniac

Lois Maharg has worked with language for many years. She taught ESL, coauthored two textbooks, and then became a reporter, writing about health, education, government, Latino affairs, and food. Her lifelong struggle with insomnia and interest in investigative reporting motivated her to write a book, The Savvy Insomniac: A Personal Journey through Science to Better Sleep. She now freelances as an editor and copy writer at On the Mark Editing.

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