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Beauty sleep is something we’ve all heard of and strive to get plenty of, but what does it actually mean in reality?
Can it make you more beautiful, and if so, in what way? Or is beauty sleep just a big myth that’s the stuff of Disney princesses and fairy tales?
Keep reading, this article is dedicated to setting the record straight on beauty sleep, once and for all!
Generally speaking, beauty sleep is when you go to bed and get a good night’s sleep, so much so, that you feel rested, energised and alert the next day.
Yes, it has been proven to be an actual thing. Research has found that beauty sleep is real and not a fragment of our imagination.
According to research published in the Royal Society of Open Science in 2017, restricted sleep can make people appear less attractive.2
A total of 25 male and female university students took part in the sleep experiment, which was carried out by researchers at the Karolinska Institute.
They were asked to get a good night’s sleep for two consecutive nights. The next week, they were asked to restrict their sleep to just four hours a night for two evenings in a row.
It all depends on how old you are. The younger you are, the more sleep you need in order to give your skin and body the best chance to recharge for the next day.
The older you are, the less sleep you generally need.
The National Sleep Foundation says that adults ideally need between seven and nine hours of sleep every night.3
For more on getting your quota of sleep in every night, read, ‘12 ways to develop good sleep hygiene.’
So now that we’ve established beauty is a thing, other than looking more appealing to total strangers, are there any other benefits associated with it?
There are, and quite a few of them, including these:
As the researchers at the Karolinska Institute discovered, sleep deprivation can lead to decreased attractiveness.
The students who looked tired appeared less attractive to the strangers who looked at their photos due to the fact their lack of sleep made their faces look unhealthier.
What’s more, the same research also concluded that dark eye circles and puffy eyelids also put the strangers off from wanting to socialise with the tired-looking students.4
According to research carried out by the Case Western Reserve University for Estee Lauder into the effects of sleep quality on skin ageing and function, chronic inadequate and poor quality sleep can lead to skin ageing.
Researchers found that poor quality sleepers showed increased signs of intrinsic skin ageing, such as fine lines, uneven pigmentation and reduced elasticity.
Meanwhile, good sleepers recovered more efficiently from skin stressors, such as sunburn, due to the fact their skin’s ability to repair itself overnight isn’t being weakened by poor sleep quality.5
The same study commissioned by Estee Lauder also found that poor sleepers are more unhappy with the way they look compared to good sleepers.6
‘Cues of fatigue: effects of sleep deprivation on facial appearance’, a research study carried out in 2013 found that sleep-deprived people tend to have swollen and red eyes, as well as dark under-eye circles and more wrinkles and fine lines on their face.
Overall, the study, which involved 20 women, showed that sleep deprivation affects the eyes, mouth and skin and that these features all give off visible signs of sleep loss over time.7
Research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that when dieters got a full night's sleep, they lost the same amount of weight as when they slept less.
But when they got adequate sleep, more than half of the weight they lost was fat.8
Meanwhile, when they cut back on their sleep, only one-fourth of their weight loss was fat.
The research concluded sleep-deprived people tend to have higher levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, in their bodies, which is responsible for stimulating appetite and promoting fat storage.
According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep and depression are interlinked. Poor sleep can potentially lead to the development of depression.
Sleep deprivation may also contribute to depression by changing the natural levels of serotonin, which is widely recognised as being a mood stabiliser, in the body.
What’s more, sleep disruptions can negatively impact the body’s stress system, disrupting our natural physical, mental and behavioural changes (circadian rhythms) and increasing vulnerability for depression.
It’s been reported that people who are treated for depression, may see an improvement in the quality of their sleep.9
A study into the ‘The extraordinary importance of sleep’ found that sleep is critical for enabling us to think clearly and be vigilant, alert and maintain focus.
Researchers observed that people whose daily sleep duration is inadequate or repeatedly disrupted often see their cognitive abilities, i.e. performance, working memory, cognitive speed and accuracy, being negatively impacted.10
While sleep isn’t a magic wand we can wave that instantly makes us look younger (if only it was), it does play a key part in helping slow down and prevent the signs of ageing.
This is fundamentally down to the fact that when we sleep, it helps regenerate body tissues, including our skin, bones and muscles.
More specifically, when we get a good night’s sleep, e.g. Stage 3 non-REM sleep, we produce the Human Growth Hormone (HGH), which has been linked to helping restore the body.12
(For more on the stages of sleep read, ‘The importance of sleep.’)
Overall, sleep can help improve our appearance, and may potentially help us look younger by enabling our skin cells to grow and repair and producing proteins that are responsible for cell growth and repair, such as collagen.
In turn, this collagen production can help with maintaining skin elasticity, preventing and reducing the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and other skin ageing signs related to elasticity and suppleness.
Remember though, it’s not just about how much you sleep, but the quality of your sleep, both of which have the ability to influence what you see in the mirror.
Joined Holland & Barrett: August 2005
Michelle joined Holland and Barrett in 2005 as a Customer Services Advisor where she worked for a total of 6 years.
She left H&B to pursue a career within the public sector and later returned in 2013 where she continued to support the Customer Services department and further developed by qualifying as an advanced product advisor working alongside a team of nutritionists.
She then moved to buying as a FNSS Raw Materials Coordinator before joining the Regulatory Affairs Department in 2017 as a Regulatory Affairs Associate. After 3 years in this role, she then moved to the Beauty team where she expanded her knowledge to focus on the beauty industry.
Michelle is now working on both own-label and branded beauty lines, ensuring that these products and all relating marketing material comply to the EU, UK and International Cosmetics Regulations.
Michelle has 3 children who take up a lot of her time, but when she has a few spare minutes she enjoys walking, fitness and cooking.