How Lack of Sleep Affects Acne
Just as we need food and water to live, we also need to get a good night’s sleep on the regular. And just like when we don’t eat or drink well, or properly, when we don’t get quality, adequate sleep it affects our mind and our body, as well as our skin.
Sleep deprivation can actually cause numerous mechanisms to go awry inside our bodies. For example, studies have shown that just a week of poor sleep habits can cause significant alterations in glucose tolerance; impaired glucose tolerance can make you more likely to develop things like diabetes, but they can also lead to acne, as our bodies pump out inflammation in response to insulin spikes.
Sleep deprivation can also affect our cortisol levels; while cortisol has its place by helping our bodies respond to stress so that we don’t become ill, people who don’t have a normal sleep/wake cycle can actually have cortisol levels that are high when they should be low, and low when they should be high. Getting only 4-5 hours of sleep a night can result in heightened cortisol levels in the evening that decrease six times slower in comparison to healthy subjects. These chronically-elevated levels of cortisol can result in inflammation in the body that negatively affects our skin, and our overall health.
Sleep deprivation can also increase the amount of inflammation in our bodies in another way. At night as we sleep, our bodies undergo changes that make for an environment that supports inflammation. When we get adequate sleep, however, this inflammatory state supports the immune system by enhancing the body’s ability to form an initial and long-term immune response. However, when we’re chronically sleep-deprived, the inflammatory state becomes unbalanced and only serves to impede immune function. This is sometimes why we become sick when we've been lacking sleep.
So if you’re thinking of skimping on the sleep to get a little extra work done, think again. Not only will your cognitive function likely suffer, leading to a lower quality of work being produced, but your skin is going to suffer immensely, as well. A better solution is to get a good night’s rest, and tackle any work the following day. Your body and your skin will thank you tenfold.
Tips for a Better Night's Sleep
1. Stick to a schedule.
Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even when you're off - weekends, holidays, etc. When we are consistent with our sleep schedule, it helps to promote a better night's rest.
2. Don't eat before bed.
It's not a good idea to eat a lot too close to bedtime, as it can keep you awake. However, don't go to bed starving, either, because you'll toss and turn while you think about food. Eat a light carb-snack like apple slices with peanut butter or carrot sticks and hummus as a bedtime snack.
3. Drink less caffeine.
Whether it's energy drinks, pop, or coffee, consuming too much caffeine in the day can affect your sleep/wake cycles, especially if you consume them close to bedtime. Opt for a low-caffeine tea, like green tea, instead.
4. Create a routine.
If you have a hard time falling asleep even when you're tired, getting into a special "bedtime routine" might help remind your body that it's time to slow it down for the night. For me, this is preparing lunches for the next day, setting out my clothes, washing my face, putting my night guard in, etc. For others, it could be reading a book, taking a bath, etc.
Nearly everyone has an occasional sleepless night — but if you often have trouble sleeping, contact your doctor. Identifying and treating any underlying causes can help you get the better sleep you deserve.