You’ve probably heard about “beauty sleep.” It’s often used as a euphemism before someone gracefully leaves a party or ends a phone call in favor of getting some rest.
It turns out these people are onto something — research and experts indicate that a good night’s rest can do wonders for our skin.
The skin isn’t the only body part that benefits when we catch enough Zzzs.
Even though there’s plenty of reason to get a good night’s sleep, there’s nothing wrong with using skin care as your motivation for hitting the hay at a reasonable hour.
We talked to a pair of dermatologists about why sleep is an instrumental part of your skin care routine, and they also shared how to better your skin in your sleep.
Dark under-eye circles are a hallmark sign that someone has been burning the midnight oil.
Erum N. Ilyas, MD, MBE, FAAD, says dry skin and hollowing of cheeks often go hand-in-hand with these dark circles.
“Most of this is a result of dehydration that accompanies tiredness,” says Ilyas, the CEO & Founder of AmberNoon and a board-certified dermatologist with Schweiger Dermatology.
We often think of dehydration as a result of too little water. But Ilyas points to research that suggests sleep also plays a role.
A study published in 2019 analyzed three data samples from previous research of U.S. and Chinese individuals ages 20 and up who were not pregnant or diagnosed with kidney failure.
The researchers suggested that people who got less than eight hours of sleep per day were less hydrated than individuals who did.
Other peer-reviewed studies also suggest that sleep can impact skin appearance.
Elasticity decreased more than any other skin feature after six days of sleep deprivation, but skin texture didn’t change after one day of restricted sleep.
This study included a group of self-identified female volunteers ages 30 to 55 who typically slept well. This study indicated that just two nights of limiting sleep to three hours could significantly change the appearance of the skin and face.
There’s much more research out there citing the benefits of sleep — for skin and the rest of your body — so aiming to get an adequate amount of sleep if you’re able has many benefits either way.
You may have a morning and evening skin care routine that consists of at least a cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF.
But you can also work on your dream skin — or as close to it as you can get based on your age, genetics, and other factors — while you’re dreaming.
Anna Chacon, MD, a Miami-based dermatologist, shared her tips for how to get better skin with your eyes closed.
Chacon says it’s not just about when you lay your head down — and for how long — but what you rest it on. She recommends using silk sheets and pillowcases, especially for people with acne or sensitive skin or who sleep on their sides or stomach.
Chacon says that these pillowcases and sheets are gentler than cotton ones. “This is because the friction from cotton on sensitive skin can create more inflammation, making acne, eczema, or other skin conditions worse,” she says.
“Cotton also sops up the natural oil and bacteria from your face and hair, and that grime accumulates on your pillowcase night after night, creating a bacteria petri dish out of your pillow.”
On the other hand, Chacon says that silk pillowcases and sheets tend to absorb less moisture and dirt, lessening their effect on acne-prone or sensitive skin.
Bonus: Chacon says silk bed linens can be more comfortable year-round, potentially enhancing your sleep quality and duration.
Some dermatologists and peer-reviewed research stress the importance of sleep on the skin. It may aid in hydration, elasticity, treatment of rosacea, and your skin’s overall appearance.
Silk bed sheets and pillowcases may make you more comfortable and reduce inflammation and breakouts. They absorb less moisture and dirt and tend to be gentler than cotton ones.
If you’re having issues with your skin or sleep, speak with a healthcare provider about ways to catch more Zzzs. Not only is getting enough sleep likely essential for skin health, but it’s also crucial for your overall physical and mental well-being.