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Dermatologist, Dr. Lisa Kellett explains what happens to your skin when you don't get proper sleep and shares pro tips for reversing the damage.


The relationship between sleep and skin

  • Lack of sleep has been attributed to causing circadian disruption, resulting in a number of abnormal physiologic changes, including reduced glucose tolerance, increased blood pressure and an increase in inflammatory mediators. As a result, cell repair and regeneration can be affected resulting in less healthy skin. 
  • Binge sleeping or “catching up” on sleep on the weekends for example, does not counter lack of sleep during the week as the benefits of proper sleep are cumulative.
  • A state of deep sleep activates growth hormones, which help to maintain skin elasticity and regeneration. During “delta sleep”- the deeper half of our sleep cycle - growth-hormone levels are at their peak, directing cells to repair damaged tissues, including skin. Some of the damage that contributes to premature aging is repaired at this stage, which makes the term “beauty sleep” seem fitting.
  • When you lose sleep, cortisol (stress-hormone) levels are affected, which can result in less optimal health. Given that skin reflects your overall health and well-being, sleep deprivation can result in less healthy looking skin as well.

Suggestions for reversing skin damage caused by lack of sleep

  • Remove makeup before bed, preferably with a gel-based, non-foaming exfoliating cleanser
  • People in their 40s, 50s and beyond can use a very simple trick to decrease under-eye puffiness: sleep on two pillows the night before a big event our outing which keeps the face above the level of the heart.
  • The most important topical ingredient is a vitamin A product of at least the strength of 1% retinol. Retinoids are best used at night as they can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. Liquids and serums are best used in Canada as they can be dose titrated into moisturizers.
  • Sleep with your hair pulled back off your face and try to touch your skin only with clean hands.
  • Don’t pick at your skin!

The information provided on the show is for general information purposes only.  If you have a health problem, medical emergency, or a general health question, you should contact a physician or other qualified health care provider for consultation, diagnosis and/or treatment. Under no circumstances should you attempt self-diagnosis or treatment based on anything you have seen on the show.

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