The Benefits of Enough Sleep and the Impact of Sleep on Skin | Muse Health

Sleep     Impact     Mental Health     Skin

Most of us are aware of the doctor recommended 8 hours of sleep. When you let your body rest, it provides energy to function at a high level throughout the day. There have also been several studies on the impact of sleep on mental health with many revealing that lack of sufficient sleep can spur and amplify episodes of insomnia or other psychiatric disorders.

One lesser-known benefit of getting enough sleep is its effect on your appearance; most specifically the appearance of your skin. It may seem as though there is no correlation between a good night’s sleep and skin health but when you look under the hood, the link is undeniable. While the importance of sleep is lost on some, sleep and skin go hand in hand.

Couple sleeping in bed

Why sleep is important

On a scientific level, sleep is defined as an altered state of consciousness where a person or persons have limited contact with surroundings. The person is normally in a quiet area. Unlike what is happening physically, during sleep, the brain carries out several essential functions.

As soon a person lays down to rest for the night, the body automatically keeps working and goes into what is known as “repair mode”. During your sleep cycle, the brain begins clearing out and categorizing unnecessary junk that accumulates throughout the day. This junk could be in the form of proteins or toxins that come from a variety of sources.

Sleep is the body’s way of naturally resetting itself. When you get a sufficient amount of sleep, it helps your body build and rebuild cells that help fight off infectious diseases, rids the bloodstream of toxins, and promotes the growth of new cells.

If you deprive your body of enough time to make that natural reset, it can throw your entire system into disarray leading to unwanted side effects like weight gain, sickness, and mental health problems like depression.

Sleep is directly tied to positive functioning in the body. Without proper sleep, you can begin to feel as though your body is moving on autopilot but at the same time, a step slow. Sleep keeps the body at a baseline of proper equilibrium.

Close up of clock with blurred sleeping woman in background

How much sleep should adults get?

The amount of sleep an adult should get depends on several factors. Although every person is different, numerous organizations (like the National Sleep Foundation) have shown an adequate amount of sleep time for adults is anywhere between 7-9 hours. However, there are other factors and conditions to take into consideration that may skew this data.

For example, if a woman is pregnant, the amount of sleep she needs will increase, especially during the first few months of pregnancy when her body is adjusting itself to its new normal.

Aging also affects the number of hours a person sleeps. As humans age, their sleep schedules tend to become erratic meaning that they wake up easily and frequently. With increased sleep sensitivity, an elderly person may need more hours of sleep to feel their best.

Another factor that affects hours of rest is prior sleep deprivation. For example, if an adult stayed up all night or could not fall asleep, their need for adequate sleep increases. This could result in sleeping for extended periods of time.

Although many people claim to be able to function properly without getting 7-9 hours of sleep, there have been several studies demonstrating that prolonged sleep deprivation can affect a person both professionally and personally.

Woman smiling in bed with sleep mask on head

The impact of sleep

Sleep is directly related to the continued functioning of every aspect of the body. While sleep is important, the quality of sleep a person gets is a factor that cannot be overlooked. Without quality sleep, your body is not able to repair itself and rebuild. During the rebuilding process, the brain helps stimulate growth of new cells that fight off infectious diseases and keeps the hormone levels in the body balanced. Any imbalance can lead to unwanted effects. These imbalances can impact skin health, stress levels, and mental health.

The importance of sleep for skin health

Everyone has heard of the saying, “catch up on my beauty sleep”. While it may seem vain, there is truth to the correlation between sleep and glowing skin. The skin is the biggest organ of the body and has many more responsibilities than just keeping all other organs inside. It comes in contact with different surfaces, weather conditions, and stimuli throughout the day so it should come as no shock that it is impacted by the overall health of a person’s body.

During sleep, the body produces essential hormones. One of these is human growth hormone. Human growth hormone plays an important role in the overall health and development of the body because it produces collagen and repairs DNA of skin cells. Throughout the day, there are factors like environmental pollution or UV Rays that can cause harm to upper layers of skin through the attachment of free radicals. Free radicals can spur premature aging, fine lines, puffiness, effect hydration causing dry skin.

A person’s appearance can also be altered when they experience sleep deprivation. The immune system houses cells called monocytes that make inflammatory chemicals. When a person does not get enough sleep, these chemicals are released in full force. While inflammation of the skin is a naturally occurring process, when monocytes suffer an imbalance, the effects can be severe. For example, it can trigger acne breakouts on the skin, cause dark circles, and even accelerate the aging of cells.

One organ that is directly affected by quality of sleep is the liver. Many college students and adults know the liver as the organ that helps process alcohol. And while that is true, the liver also functions as a detoxification pipeline. During a sleep cycle, the liver is hard at work detoxifying the body. If a person does not get enough sleep or is interrupted, the liver is unable to function at full capacity. When these interruptions occur, the liver will attempt to dispel toxins through other channels; one of which is the skin. As these toxins make their way to the skin, it can result in adult acne, eczema or psoriasis outbreaks, and an overall dull complexion.

The secret to healthy skin is better sleep.

The importance of sleep for lowering stress

Life is unpredictable, which also makes it stressful. From life events like sudden illness to losing employment, outside stressors can have a major impact on sleep. When a person is stressed, it makes it almost impossible for them to get a good night’s sleep. Instead of sleeping for the recommended amount of time, they go through a constant back and forth of sleep and then wake up.

The presence of stress raises levels of cortisol in the body. Cortisol, sometimes called "stress hormone" is a hormone that stimulates alertness. While alertness is great at work or when driving, when you’re trying to sleep, heightened cortisol levels raise both your heart rate and blood pressure. High cortisol levels interfere with the body’s natural release of melatonin, interrupting sleep quality. Melatonin is a necessary component of a successful sleep cycle by relaxing the body and putting it at ease.

Stress can also interfere with a person’s REM sleep cycle. The REM cycle is incredibly important as it helps restore mental functioning in the brain. Stress can affect brain waves making it harder to concentrate. It can also directly impact mood and demeanor.

It should come as no surprise that sleep is an incredible stress reliever. When a person is able to sleep well, the body feels calm and restored. Sleep helps lower stress levels which directly impacts the ability to problem solve, concentrate, and make decisions.

Stress is something that is hard to control but there are certain activities you can do before bed to help ease your struggles. Here are some ideas on how to relieve stress in order to get a better night's sleep.

  • Learn to meditate
  • Organize your space before bed
  • Aromatherapy candles
  • Buy new pillows and pillow cases
  • Unplug from social media and your phone half an hour before bed
  • Listen to soothing music
  • Plan out your day

The importance of sleep on mental health

Sleep and mental health are unequivocally linked. Chronic sleep issues can leave a person feeling irritable and exhausted at random times of the day. Although there are several mental health disorders that result in an extended need for sleep, lack of sleep has also been linked to the possible development and maintenance of different disorders.

As talked about previously, stress can directly impact your quality of sleep. Not only does stress make it hard for a person to concentrate and make decisions, it has been linked to mental disorders like depression. Studies have shown that people who suffer from stress-related insomnia have a higher likelihood of developing or exhibiting signs of depression.

Anxiety is another major concern for people who deal with irregular sleep patterns. Anxiety is an odd phenomenon because its relationship to sleep is hard to measure. Sleep deprivation can contribute to feelings of anxiety but anxiety can also lead to odd sleeping patterns.

Sleep disorders have also been linked to not only the development of mental disorders but also its maintenance. For example, people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also are victims of sleep deprivation. An estimated 80-90% of people diagnosed with PTSD cannot sleep throughout the night. While a sleep disorder did not cause this mental health issue, lack of sufficient sleep makes it harder for a person with PTSD to function.

When the brain feels like it is not functioning at its optimum level, it makes it harder to get through the day. These hardships can cause a person to have mood swings, avoid contact with others, feel a sense of hopelessness, and exhibit signs of psychiatric issues.

Sleep is important

Sleep is important

Sleep is much more than laying down on your bed. With poor sleep, the body can still function but not optimally. Sleep helps to restore the body’s natural equilibrium while also promoting the growth and development of cells. This process of growth helps fight off diseases, ensuring that your immune system continues working. It also prevents eye bags and promotes proper blood flow. Hopefully, now you’ll understand why sleep is important and how it directly affects your health and wellness.