Lack of sleep is known to impact memory and cognitive functions. But now researchers have found that a lack of shut eye can hasten the process of skin aging, too.

According to researchers at the University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Centre, US, poor sleepers demonstrate increased signs of skin aging. Furthermore, they also have a worse assessment of their own skin and facial appearance than people who sleep well.

“While chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to medical problems such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and immune deficiency, its effects on skin function have previously been unknown,” study’s lead researcher Dr. Elma Baron said.

The study
For the purpose of the study, researchers enrolled 60 women between the ages of 30 and 49.
Based on the self-reported duration of sleep and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, a questionnaire assessing sleep quality, the participants were classified into good and poor sleepers.

Nearly half of the participants fell into the poor sleep quality category.

All women were evaluated for their skin quality and undertook a variety of skin challenge tests including ones involving UV light exposure.

Researchers found that poor sleepers were more likely to experience the signs of skin ageing at an early age. They exhibited more signs of skin aging including fine lines, uneven pigmentation and reduced skin elasticity.

On the contrary, women who slept well were quicker to recovering from environmental stressors such as sun and air pollution.

“Our study is the first to conclusively demonstrate that inadequate sleep is correlated with reduced skin health and accelerates skin ageing. Sleep deprived women show signs of premature skin ageing and a decrease in their skin’s ability to recover after sun exposure,” said Baron.

“This research shows for the first time, that poor sleep quality can accelerate signs of skin aging and weaken the skin’s ability to repair itself at night,” said Dr. Daniel Yarosh, a senior vice president at The Estée Lauder Companies, that commissioned the study.

“These connections between sleep and skin aging, now supported with solid scientific data, will have a profound effect on how we study skin and its functions. We see these findings as yet another way we can direct our scientific research toward the real needs of our customers who want to look and feel their best.”

The findings of the study were presented at the International Investigative Dermatology Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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