I’ve always been curious about this topic and I honestly should have researched it and wrote the blog a lot sooner than I have! But hey, better late than never! We wrote a blog the other day that discussed masks and how we should use certain masks at night to help our skin renew itself while we sleep. It was then that I thought, ‘Well, what the heck actually happens to our skin when we are night, night termite’? We all know that our skin basically recovers like our entire body does when we sleep, but is it a fairy tale when they reference it, or do we have the science to back it up?
I’ve apparently had a crappy relationship with sleep over the years. Though I slept like a rock (but still always pretty tired), it wasn’t until I took a sleep study did I realize I had a big old case of restless leg syndrome (RLS, where I think your nerves cause your legs to fidget and kick causing a restless night sleep – I always call it jimmy leg, not sure why) and even though I was ‘getting’ 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, the sleep study showed that I was actually AWAKE for 4 to 5 of those hours because I was always kicking and moving. So I guess for years, I’ve been getting 3 to 4 hours of sleep a night. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise because my family nor my husband particularly enjoy sharing a bed with me because I KICK 😉 You’re welcome! When I was little, my dad was the only one who could tolerate me. My mom would say her legs would be too sore if we slept in the same bed on vacation or something! LOL My bad, mom. So anyways, I’ve apparently been sleeping like shit for a long time, and it wasn’t until I was able to fix the symptoms of RLS did I realize how much better my skin looked when I got the full 7 to 8 hours of sleep. I didn’t look so dull, dry, tired… all that beautiful stuff. And my god, not only that, but I can actually function.
But anyways, now that we’re all overwhelmed by my sleeping habits, I had been able to connect brighter skin with better sleep and I wanted to delve deeper for all of us.
Not only have fairy tales confirmed our suspicions but also science has shown that when we sleep our bodies go into repair mode. Sleep fixes damage that has been caused during the day and in turn, we wake up with beautiful, refreshed & glowing skin (well some of us anyways). By learning more about it, we can take this information and ensure that for one, we’re getting enough sleep & the proper amount of it, but that we’re also making the proper product choices that can help bolster our skin’s renewal & repair system.
#DYK Did you know…. 50-70 million US adults have a sleep disorder. 48% report snoring. A whopping 37.9% fall asleep during the day by accident at least once a month. 4.7% fall asleep while driving. 30% of adults have insomnia. 25 million US adults have sleep apnea. 37% of adults report less than 7 hours of sleep a night. 100,000 deaths occur each year because of sleep deprivation. 10% of Americans have RLS – According to SleepAssociation.org
Throughout the day, your skin works into overdrive, protecting itself from constant attacks. Whether it’s the sun, pollution, dirt & grime and pretty much anything else, it’s working hard to keep you protected. It’s not until you fall asleep that your skin goes into recovery mode which is a time of intense repair & regeneration. In fact, it’s said that the regeneration process can be up to 3 times faster than during the day! That’s a whole lot of repair.
Key Repair Phases
Right around when we start to get sleepy, around 9pm (I get tired at like 7:30 cause I wake up between 3:30 and 4, so some of us may be a little different), but generally between 9pm & 11pm, basically the prelude to sleep, our skin is most able to absorb topical treatments & DNA repair is boosted.
This is a sleep hormone that begins to rise a few hours before bedtime. Similar to the evening phase, but it’s so smart that not only does it make us sleepy, it also works to counteract damage to the skin during the day from bad things like UV rays & pollution.
HGH stands for human growth hormone. This sucker is responsible for accelerating skin’s repair & cell regeneration. Similar to the above, but this occurs between 11pm and 4am. This is when our cell production can double & if we’re in a deep sleep (fingers crossed), your cell turnover increases by 3 times between the hours of 2am and 4am.
Did you know that our skin is actually most permeable while we sleep? Sure, that sounds like a great thing because it’s warmer in your bed and you’re more receptive to skincare products, but you actually will lose moisture. Think about it… if things can get in, they can certainly get out too. This is known as transepidermal water loss & during the morning, it’s the highest. Plus, you know how you wake up thirsty? Or at least you’ve not had water in several hours, thanks for overnight water loss, your skin is theoretically at its absolute driest at this time.
Many of us may remember when I touched upon the stress hormone cortisol and how mine was the highest that 3 or 4 doctors had ever seen (eye roll). And this can be directly related to your sleep, or lack of sleep in my case. However, we actually need cortsiol to wake us up. But when we wake, our skin is instantly under attack from internal and external stressors – ya know!?
^ I’ve named these phases myself… they’re not technically titled this way but I thought it would be the easiest way to explain it.
So now that we’ve hopefully learned quite a bit of how are skin is performing while we sleep, it doesn’t stop there. This is where we need to find the right skincare whether it is your morning or nighttime routine, it’s crucial that you support & maximize the skin’s renewal process.
In the evening time, this is when you want to detoxify and cleanse. Hence are suggestion in our mask blog saying that we should use an exfoliating mask at night. This helps remove any possible traces of dirt and grime from the environment. In addition, retinol and hyaluronic acid should be applied in the evening too to help accelerate the repair process. Retinol is there to give you a boost in collagen, while the hyaluronic acid hydrates (that helps with water loss too!) We’d also recommend a killer facial oil that’s super hydrating if you suffer from dry skin.
In the morning time, when we’re experiencing the morning & cortisol phases, this is when we need to be hydrating, calming and soothing the skin. You’re in fact, working to repair & re-hydrate the weakened skin barrier. And of course, SPF containing antioxidants are crucial when protecting your skin from harmful UVA & UVB rays. Plus, most of us deal with pollution in some capacity, so we would recommend either taking antioxidants orally or consider a product that helps combat pollution & environmental aggressors.
I thought about writing some advice to help us all get a better night sleep, but I realize I am no expert on this topic ;-), so I’ll let you guys dissect your sleeping habits. But in the meantime, now you know all about how your skin repairs itself during sleep & hopefully this encourages you to get a handle on your sleeping habits, or ya change up your routine to get the biggest bang for your buck. Until then, night night termite!
- Kendra Flockhart, education executive at Darphin, and Anna Persaud, the CEO at This Works.
- Institute of Medicine. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2006.
- US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Drowsy driving and automobile crashes [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Web Site]. Available at http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/drowsy_driving1/Drowsy.html#NCSDR/NHTSA