Ever walk into work after a bad night of sleep and had someone ask if you're feeling okay? When your sleep schedule is off, your face is the first place the consequences show up - dark circles, swelling, droopy eyelids, pale skin. There's even research showing that acute sleep deprivation and looking tired can cause others to perceive you as less healthy and attractive. We're all well aware of the power of sleep for everything from better focus, mood, body composition, endurance, and creativity - but sleep is also the ticket to clearer, healthier, younger-looking skin. And while we can't necessarily give you a better night of sleep (solidarity to all the parents and insomniacs out there), we can give you some tips to help make the most of your "beauty rest."
How does sleep affect skin?
The science of sleep and skin is all about your circadian rhythm. During the day, your skin is in defense mode, protecting you from UV rays and free radicals. (And no, free radicals aren't some new political group - they're unstable compounds formed in your body due to pollution, environmental aggressors, and internal stress.) Free radicals that aren't neutralized by antioxidants can affect cell DNA, and they can target the key proteins and lipids our skin needs for optimal function.
At night, your body - including your skin - transitions into repair mode. Anti-inflammatory and anti-stress hormones increase, blood flow increases, melatonin (which has antioxidant effects) production increases, the stress hormone cortisol decreases, and human growth hormone is released, all helping to repair and strengthen skin.
How to optimize sleep for better skin
There's plenty of advice out there for getting a better night's sleep. We're going to focus on how you can create the best possible conditions for your skin while you sleep.
- Get as much sleep as possible. Yes, it's obvious. But it's also the most important piece of the puzzle for your health and your skin. Less sleep is associated with faster aging and poorer skin recovery from environmental stressors.
- Implement a night time skincare routine. Your face comes in contact with irritants, bacteria, and dirt all day, so it's key to wash up with a gentle cleanser like our CLEANSE+ and let your pores breathe at night. Follow up your cleansing with a moisturizer to lock in hydration. Due to HVAC systems, our homes tend to be dry and we lose about a liter of water at night just via the humidity in our breath. Our NIGHTLY DETOX oil is specifically formulated with avocado oil to support natural collagen production and tea tree oil to reduce blemishes for a clearer complexion.
- Wash your pillowcase frequently. Your face touches your pillowcase for basically a third of your life, so it's important to make sure it's cleaned at least once a week. If you're feeling really fancy, get higher thread count sheets or a silk pillowcase which can help reduce fine lines. Bonus points: ditch the harsh chemicals, dyes, and fragrances in your laundry detergent, which can irritate your skin, and instead opt for a natural alternative like Branch Basics.
- Sleep on your back. If you're a side sleeper, it can be hard to get used to, but sleeping on your back (especially with your head slightly elevated) allows fluid to drain rather than pooling and creating puffiness in your face. Back sleeping also reduces the chance of "sleep lines" forming over time.
- Chug water when you wake up. Poor sleepers experience significantly higher levels of Trans-Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL), which contributes heavily to skin aging. Turns out good ol' water is the fountain of youth.