The purpose of sleep has been studied by scientists for decades. Although we still don’t know everything that goes on at night, it’s clear that sleep – particularly non-REM sleep – is a time for our skin to repair and rejuvenate itself. In fact, research shows that skin cell regeneration almost doubles at night, peaking between 11p.m.and 4a.m.
Too bad sleep is elusive for so many of us. 60% of women say they don’t get enough sleep,* and over one-third of Americans sleep 2.5 hours less per night than we did a century ago.** So, what are we missing when we fail to catch our Z’s? More than you might imagine.
Sleep deprivation doesn’t simply impair the normal process of healing in our skin. It also increases our stress level, which can further limit our sleep. The resulting chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to inflammation and oxidative stress. And you know what oxidative stress is linked to? Aging signs. Talk about a vicious cycle.
A study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2001)*** showed that women deprived of sleep have a disturbed skin-barrier function, greater water loss from the skin and a far higher level of inflammatory chemicals in circulation. *** Over time, these inflammatory chemicals take a toll on both the outer epidermal layers and the deeper dermal structures. Which explains why lack of sleep can make you look ten years older.
Clearly, we need to get our beauty sleep. It’s also a good idea to support our skin’s natural cycle of repair at night with specially-formulated night creams and treatments. (Avoid using day creams at night as many of them are focused on SPF and protection rather than supporting skin’s natural repair.)
A great night cream maximizes the benefits of any amount of sleep by using specialized ingredients to support your skin’s natural repair process. Ingredients to look for are:
They help your skin continue to fight free radicals (unfortunately, free radicals never sleep) and prevent oxidation as you sleep.
Retinoids and Exfoliants
These ingredients really work with your skin’s repair process by helping to support natural exfoliation and by removing dead skin to reveal a brighter, healthier glow. It’s important to know that these ingredients are only for nighttime use as they increase sun sensitivity.
As we know from the 2001 Journal of Investigative Dermatology study***, our skin loses more moisture when we don’t sleep enough. Your skin can benefit greatly from a night cream that attracts moisture and binds it to the skin.
* The National Sleep Foundation. 2007. “Sleep in America” Poll conducted on 1,003 women from ages 18 through 65.
** The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008.
*** Altemus, Margaret; Rao, Babar; Dhabhar, Firdaus S.; Ding, Wanhong; and Granstein, Richard D. “Stress-Induced Changes in Skin Barrier Function in Healthy Women,” The Society for Investigative Dermatology, Inc. 2001.