Poor Sleep Quality Ages the Skin

Martin Reed | Dec 8th 2016

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Many of us worry about the appearance of our skin. In the fight against premature aging, U.S. consumers spent over $2 billion on anti-aging skin care products in 2015 alone — but is this the right strategy?

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The importance of sleep

Although the commonly blamed culprits for skin aging, such as sun exposure and smoking, are well known, sleep rarely gets a mention. Yet it turns out that sleep quality plays a big role in the health of our skin.

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Study tackles the issue

A 2015 study published in Clinical & Experimental Dermatology set out to determine the effect of poor sleep quality on skin health and aging by enrolling 60 healthy women aged between 30 and 50 years of age in an experiment.

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Sleep measurements

Each participant was categorized as a poor sleeper or a good sleeper based on their Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) score. The PSQI evaluates sleep duration, disturbances, time taken to fall asleep, daytime sleepiness, sleep efficiency, sleep quality, and sleeping pill use.

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Good sleep vs. poor sleep

Those who were considered to be good sleepers had PSQI scores of five or less and got between seven and nine hours of sleep. Those categorized as poor sleepers had PSQI scores of more than five, and got five hours or less of sleep.

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Skin measurements

Skin aging was measured using a skin aging score known as SCINEXA. Researchers also assessed skin health by measuring skin recovery after loss of surface moisture and exposure to ultraviolet light.

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Skin aging results

Compared to poor sleepers, good sleepers had significantly lower intrinsic skin aging scores. Poor sleepers were more likely to have uneven pigmentation, fine wrinkles, loose skin, benign skin growths, and skin depressions due to loss of subcutaneous fat.

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Skin health results

Good sleepers experienced 30 percent greater skin recovery after loss of surface moisture, and significantly better recovery after exposure to ultraviolet light compared to poor sleepers.

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Questionnaires also revealed that good sleepers were more satisfied with their appearance and had a higher perception of their physical attractiveness compared to poor sleepers.

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Why?

This study didn’t determine why sleep influences skin health. However, one theory suggests that the oxidative stress associated with disturbed sleep may be to blame for premature skin aging. The bottom line: if you want to avoid premature skin aging, don’t ignore your sleep.