Does beauty rest on a good night’s sleep?
Scientific studies certainly think so.
Researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet photographed participants twice - once after an eight-hour night’s sleep and once after being kept awake for 31 hours. When impartial volunteers were asked to select which faces they found most attractive, they overwhelmingly chose the images in which the subjects were well rested.
Another study by the University Hospital Case Medical Centre in Cleveland, Ohio, found that sleep-starved skin aged quicker. Poor sleepers had significantly higher ratings of fine lines, uneven pigmentation and slackening elasticity. Compared with the good sleepers (women who had slept more than seven hours a night for at least a month), poor sleepers (women who had gotten fewer than five hours of sleep each night for at least a month) exhibited impaired skin-barrier function, increased moisture loss and slower recovery from sunburn.
Not only that, the poor sleepers were perceived to be four years older than they actually were by independent dermatologists; the good sleepers, eight years younger.
Night time is the ideal time to fight ageing as, during sleep, cell renewal and collagen synthesis accelerate, optimizing tissue repair. Skin moisturisation from creams is also more efficient at night.
But what happens when your skin wakes up on the wrong side of bed?
Beauty sleep is often touted as one of the most efficient anti-agers, but is it possible to do it wrong?
However well you sleep, you may still wake up with puffy eyes and dark circles if you are sleeping in an awkward position.
Insufficient sleep doesn’t cause dark circles, but it can make them worse. If you sleep face-down the blood vessels can become constricted and the circulatory system can release congested fluid from tiny flaps in the walls of these vessels. Dark circles are actually tiny blood vessels ‘pooling’ under the thin, delicate skin below the eyes.
The answer is to try to train yourself to sleep on your back. You can also help to prevent fluid accumulation causing puffy eyes by keeping your head raised well above your body in bed, with extra pillows.
Your sleeping position may also predispose you to wrinkling on the chest. Lying on your side can cause vertical lines in the cleavage. Once the collagen in the skin breaks down from age and sun exposure, those wrinkles can begin to stick.
Your skin is not only affected by how you sleep but what you sleep on.
Resting your face on the pillow in the same way every night for years on end can lead to fine lines and wrinkles. Called sleep lines, these wrinkles eventually become etched on the surface of the skin and no longer disappear when the head is not resting on the pillow. Women, who tend to sleep on their sides, are more likely to see these lines appear on their chin and cheeks. Men tend to notice these lines on the forehead, since they usually sleep with their face pressed face down on the pillow. People who sleep on their backs do not develop these wrinkles since their skin does not lie crumpled against the pillow.
Traditional pillowcases can also take moisture away from your body which, in turn, can age the skin. You can avoid this by investing in a silk pillowcase. Silk contains amino acids similar to those found in your moisturisers. As such, they don’t draw moisture from your face the way other pillowcases can.