The Science of Beauty Sleep

The Science of Beauty Sleep


beauty sleep

“Beauty sleep”—it’s a phrase we’ve heard all our lives; a cliché we’ve employed to get out of less-than-desirable social invitations; and our internal justification when we hit the snooze button a few too many times. But even though we know sleep can benefit more than the dark circles under our eyes, we’ve never really asked how… until now. We recently caught up with Dr. Adam Friedman, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Dermatology) and Director of Dermatologic Research at Montefiore - Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and asked him to explain the science behind beauty sleep, and why we might want to take the phrase seriously.

The Science

“It’s a known fact that a lack of shut-eye has negative effects on one’s skin, most commonly resulting in a dull, lusterless appearance. There are several reasons for this. During sleep, skin cells regenerate and facial muscles that create lines due to repetitive activity (think of an old leather jacket) relax and soften. As sleep progresses, the body settles into the fourth and deepest stage of rest—called Delta Sleep (which precedes REM sleep)—and growth hormones peak and initiate cell and tissue repair.” Friedman says.

Specifically, “cortisol and insulin production inversely peak so that collagen (the main structural backbone of the skin) production is accelerated. Collagen production provides support for the skin as well as helps maximize water retention. Water retention is key for keeping skin moisturized and supple, which can translate to fewer lines and a smoother complexion,” Friedman explains. Since cells regenerate during sleep and are already working to heal any damage, your skin is also better optimized to absorb product overnight.

The Recommendation

“The ideal amount of sleep ranges from six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, time enough to move through the five phases of sleep.” Friedman says.

Here are Friedman’s tips for consistently beautiful zzzz’s:

“1. Get into a sleep habit. Shut down around the same time each night and try giving yourself 30-60 minutes TV, phone and computer-free before bed. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This rhythm is good for your skin.

2. Become a back sleeper. Stomach sleeping presses your face into the pillow, creating a meshwork of fine lines and creases when you wake up.

3. Put a soft cover on your pillow. A pillowcase with a high thread count is kinder to your skin.”

4. Be sure to remove that makeup to let your skin breath, and amp up your nighttime skincare regimen. We love using Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate, Skinceuticals Renew Overnight Dry, and Vichy LiftActiv Night overnight to wake up feeling fabulous.


Have any other skincare questions for our experts? Leave them in the comments below!

Photo: Thinkstock

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