You can almost immediately tell that getting a poor night of sleep doesn’t do woke-up-like-this wonders for your face. Research even says that one night of poor sleep can cause:
- hanging eyelids
- swollen eyes
- darker under eye circles
- paler skin
- more wrinkles and fine lines
- more droopy corners of the mouth
A 2017 study found that two days of sleep restriction negatively affected participants' perceived attractiveness, health, sleepiness, and trustworthiness.
So, what seems like an overnight issue could transform into something more permanent.
First and foremost, you should understand that sleep is the time when your body repairs itself. This is true for your epidermis as much as it is for your brain or your muscles. During sleep, your skin’s blood flow increases, and the organ rebuilds its collagen and repairs damage from UV exposure, reducing wrinkles and age spots.
Second, sleep is a time when your face inevitably comes into contact with the elements directly around it for a long time, especially if you’re getting the recommended seven to nine hours each night.
Think about it: Your face against rough, drying cotton for one-third of its existence and being exposed to the sun for two unprotected hours could do a number on the appearance and health of your skin. Here’s what you can do to help give your skin a rest.
1. Get a full night of sleep
The best place to start for your skin — and for your overall health — is to get the recommended amount of rest each night.
The results of poor sleep for your skin are numerous and significant, including:
- skin that ages faster
- skin that doesn’t recover as well from environmental stressors like sun exposure
- less satisfaction with your skin quality
Sometimes you might have an off day but you should average seven to nine hours of sleep.
2. Wash your face before turning in
We’ve established how sleeping is a way to help your skin repair itself: blood flow increases, collagen is rebuilt, and the muscles in your face relax after a long day.
But going to sleep with a dirty face can also harm the appearance of your skin.
Cleansing your face each night is arguably more important than in the morning . A gentle cleanser to remove dirt, makeup, and extra oil will do the trick.
You don’t want to give the day’s pore-clogging irritants the chance to sink in and do damage overnight. This can cause:
- large pores
- dry skin
- acne outbreaks
3. Use an overnight moisturizer and put a glass of water on your bedside table
Washing your face can dry it out and sleeping can also dehydrate skin, especially if you snooze in a low-humidity environment. While staying hydrated by drinking water can help to some extent, what your skin really needs at night is a topical moisturizer.
Again, you don’t need the fanciest product on the market. You just need a thicker cream or oil that can help your skin as you sleep. Another option is to use your day moisturizer.
4. Sleep on your back or use a special pillowcase
It makes sense that the position your face is in while you sleep (for one-third of your day!) matters to your skin.
Sleeping on a rough cotton surface can irritate your skin and compress your face for long hours at a time, resulting in wrinkles. While most wrinkles are caused by the expressions we make while we’re awake, wrinkles on the face and chest can result from sleeping on our stomachs or sides.
An easy solution to this is sleeping on your back — which also has a few other benefits — even if you have to train yourself over time.
If you prefer to sleep on your side, get a skin-friendly pillow. A satin or silk pillow minimizes skin irritation and compression while copper-oxide pillowcases may reduce crow’s-feet and other fine lines.
5. Elevate your head
Elevating your head has been proven to help with snoring, acid reflux, and nasal drip — all issues that can disturb the quality of your sleep, and therefore your skin. In addition, it can help reduce bags and circles under your eyes by improving blood flow and preventing blood from pooling.
Elevating your head while you sleep can be as simple as adding an extra pillow, adding a wedge to your mattress, or even propping the head of your bed by a few inches.
6. Stay away from sun while you snooze
While we do most of our sleeping in the dark, sleeping with your skin directly exposed to the sun in the morning, or during naps, can have a damaging effect on your skin’s health and appearance — not to mention that sleeping in a lighted room can disturb sleep and sleep rhythms.
Getting blackout curtains or making sure that your bed is out of the sun’s direct line can help.
In 2019, the skin care industry will see an estimated $130 billion dollars of global sales, in the form of lotions, fillers, serums, and scrubs. But while we often spend a lot of our time layering and lasering our skin, paying attention to how we treat our skin during sleeping hours shouldn’t be overlooked.
It’s not just for a glow or looking youthful, it’s about maintaining your health in body, mind, and skin for years to come. A few wrinkles never hurt anyone — in fact, they’re usually a sign of happy years lived.