You’re probably already familiar with the hallmarks of a bad night’s sleep – you wake up feeling groggy, disorientated and confused. You stumble towards the mirror in the bathroom and yes, there’s the physical evidence – inflamed cheeks, cracked skin and flaking.
Your immediate reaction might be to reach for your moisturiser and a strong cup of coffee post haste, but just hold on a minute! Simply concealing the issue doesn’t really do anything to solve the underlying cause, so today I’m going to take a look at why beauty sleep is so important and how not getting enough can ultimately stimulate a dreaded flare-up.
Is beauty sleep real?
The answer to this question is a resounding YES! Just like the rest of the organs in your body, your skin relies on you getting a healthy amount of sleep each night. You might view sleep as a time of rest but for your body, recuperation and maintenance are top of mind. This is a time when your body is detoxifying, removing impurities and focusing on repairing any damaged cells.
Did you know, for example, that while you sleep, your brain is able to detoxify your body 10 times faster than when you’re awake?
This time is incredibly important, especially if you have a skin condition like eczema or rosacea since impurities and bacteria can often irritate your skin and damage vulnerable skin cells. While you’re asleep your microcirculation even receives a boost, ensuring that plenty of nutrients and antioxidants are getting to your skin, repairing any damage and fighting off any nasty free-radicals.
Collagen, a key structural protein for your skin, is also produced while you sleep keeping your skin strong and healthy and preventing symptoms such as itchiness, irritation and flaking. Good sleep has even been linked to preventing sugar cravings and improving your immunity, making your skin more resistant to bacteria and pathogens – not bad!
What happens to your skin when you’re deprived of sleep?
However, all of this can quickly take a turn for the worse if sleep deprivation enters the picture. This is because a lack of sleep has been associated with a stress reaction that can trigger the release of inflammatory hormones such as cortisol. This inflammation can result in a flare-up, especially if you suffer from rosacea, and this stress reaction can have a drastic impact on other bodily functions too.
Your nervous system, unable to distinguish between stress and a life or death situation, will prioritise your short-term survival. This means that your blood vessels will dilate and all those lovely nutrients that soothe and heal your skin will be redirected towards other organs, like your heart and lungs, which are more important for your immediate survival.
Even your digestive system will be affected – after-all, you probably wouldn’t have time to go to the bathroom if you were fighting one on one with a grizzly bear. Whether it’s constipation or diarrhoea you experience, all those nasty toxins aren’t going to be eliminated from your body any time soon and, since over 70% of your immune cells reside in your gut, your immune system won’t be doing so well either.
In fact, cortisol can even affect how your immune system responds to threats so repeated episodes of sleep deprivation and stress can potentially make you more vulnerable to bacteria and pathogens! Your poor liver will also struggle to filter all the impurities so it might call upon your skin for some help. The skin, as an organ of elimination, will secrete all those nasty toxins through your skin and, as I’m sure you can imagine, this doesn’t exactly do wonders for sensitive, dry skin!
Finally, a stress reaction that encourages the release of cortisol can affect your skin’s ability to retain moisture! This means that if you suffer from a condition like eczema, you could find yourself losing even more essential oils and valuable fluids – uh oh!
What can you do to help?
The answer might be simple but you may struggle to fulfil it. At the end of the day, though, there really isn’t a substitute for a good night’s sleep. Try to get yourself into a consistent sleep pattern and identify what could be preventing you from sleeping in the first place, whether it’s stress or even your diet!
In the meantime, follow our advice concerning your daily skincare routine closely and make sure you’re not exposing your skin to any harsh chemicals or pollutants. Next we’ll be discussing the foods you should and shouldn’t be eating to help improve those irritating symptoms!