Do you need your beauty sleep? It is one of the things we have all heard people talk about. But does it have any foundation in science. Well until very recently I don’t think anyone had actually troubled to investigate it. But we now have the results of a small study into whether or not getting a good night’s sleep affects the quality of your skin.
It turns out that it does. 60 healthy women were assessed for speed of recovery from exposure to UV and to the rate of water loss across their skin. That second is a very key measure of the quality of the skin.
The women who slept well scored significantly better than those that did not. I need to add the normal caveats here. It was a small study, and you have to be careful of how you interpret data like this. In particular it is not impossible that having bad skin interrupts your sleep pattern. So the results don’t prove for sure that sleeping well causes good skin. But it doesn’t seem an unreasonable thing to believe given how widespread the perception that sleeping well is important to looking good. So from now on my working hypotheis will be that good sleep is beneficial until someone comes up with data that disproves it.
So the science is the easy the bit. How do we actually improve our sleep? Sleep is generally regarded as a good thing. In the Rime of the Ancient Mariner Coleridge writes
Oh sleep it is a gentle thing
Beloved from pole to pole
To Mary Queen the praise be given
She sent the gentle sleep from Heaven
That seeped into my soul.
Which is all very well, but she doesn’t have a website from which you can order sleep. The only options I can offer are –
Get an app for your smart phone that wakes you up when you are in light sleep mode. I have been using Sleep Cycle, which works okay for me but my sister says works very well for her and enables her to sleep better.
Watch what you eat in the afternoon and evening. Eating a lot of sugary food disturbs my sleep I have found. You are likely to have a rather different metabolism so observe what effect particular foods and amounts of food have on your sleep pattern.
Watch what you drink. Caffeine rich drinks have the effect of keeping you awake. Again, this is a very individual thing but I avoid all tea and coffee after lunchtime normally. It seems to work for me. Alcohol is another thing that adversely affects my sleep, and I think that is a pretty widespread observation.
I haven’t talked about the health benefits of getting a good night’s sleep, but I’ll just finish by saying that once again what makes you look good often seems to correlate with what makes you feel good and with what your doctor would recommend.
Clin Exp Dermatol. 2015 Jan;40(1):17-22. doi: 10.1111/ced.12455. Epub 2014 Sep 30.
Does poor sleep quality affect skin ageing?
Oyetakin-White P1, Suggs A, Koo B, Matsui MS, Yarosh D, Cooper KD, Baron ED.