What does a lack of sleep do to your skin? Can it really make you look older?
There is a reason why we need our beauty sleep. Sleep is critical for growth and renewal of all body systems, including the skin.
A deprivation of sleep can significantly affect our beauty. It can make fine lines more visible, increase redness, exacerbate pigmentation and decrease skin hydration. The reason why is that a reduction in sleep leads to a decrease in the body’s release of melatonin. Melatonin is a natural antioxidant secreted at night which acts to prevent the skin from free radical damage. This is one of the reasons poor sleep may lead to accelerated aging and reduced skin health.
The other reason that sleep may make you look older is that a lack of sleep increases the body’s release of the stress hormone cortisol. A reduction of cortisol in the body will influence the breakdown of skin collagen, the protein that keeps the skin smooth and elastic.
A lack of sleep has been shown in studies to affect skin hydration, appearance and impact fine lines. In fact a study conducted by the University of Cleveland on the Effects of Sleep Quality on Skin Aging and Function showed that sleep deprived women were shown to show more significant signs of attributes like fine lines, uneven pigmentation and less elasticity versus their well rested counterparts. Poor sleepers were also shown to retain redness in their skin, experience greater moisture loss in their skin and recover more slowly from sun damage as compared to women who were getting adequate sleep.
What are the best herbs to promote sleep?
I have three favourite herbs for combating stress and promoting sleep:
My first and foremost herb for promoting sleep is Passionflower. Passionflower is a beautiful herb for relaxing and calming and is particularly effective where there may be many circulating thoughts preventing sleep. Interestingly, the Latin name for the herb is Passiflora incarnata which literally translates to “passion made real.” Several studies have shown the benefits of passionflower in reducing anxiety, promoting sleep and calming the nervous system. I find it works particularly well where people are waking up frequently throughout the night as it promotes an unbroken and restful sleep.
Chamomile is another wonderful herbal antidote for stress and anxiety. Chamomile flowers have been used for centuries for their medicinal and beauty properties. Chamomile acts as a relaxant, promoting sleep and calming the body. It also has a number of anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, including the ability to accelerate wound healing and calm irritated skin.
Skullcap as the name suggests, focuses on reducing anxiety associated with many thoughts and mental stress. It is a comforting herb which has traditionally been used to alleviate nervous tension and exhaustion and works to promote emotional well-being and relaxation during times of stress.
Passionflower, Skullcap and Chamomile are all present in Sleeping Beauty Tea.