Sleep and Breakouts – Is There a Link?
If you’ve been following our articles, you will know by now that at EcoFeminii we always look for low-cost, natural & planet-friendly options to maintain glowing, healthy skin. The good news is that sometimes the best things in life are free – and so we’ve brought you this article on how a good night’s sleep is intimately connected with the complexion you deserve.
Acne and breakouts can flare up when you aren't getting enough sleep: fact. Research shows a lack of sleep can significantly contribute towards the worsening of acne. Experimental studies have shown that fatigue upon waking up is also strongly linked to acne (Acta Derm Venereol, 2015), strengthening our belief that sleep is a major part of the clear-skin puzzle.
Why Does Sleep Matter?
Cortisol: While you sleep, your body’s cortisol levels naturally decrease, and not getting enough rest can disrupt that process. When you are either sleep deprived or stressed, your body produces more cortisol – the body’s ‘stress hormone’. This cortisol increase can negatively impact your immune system’s ability to fight bacteria, which can unfortunately lead to increased skin problems. What’s worse is that stress can also lead to sleeplessness, contributing to breakouts, and hence increasing stress & decreasing the ability to sleep! What a terrible perpetual cycle to get into!
Increased Sebum & Oil Production: Increased cortisol not only promotes inflammation but a part of the body’s reaction to this hormone is to produce more sebum and oil than usual, resulting in clogged pores and breakouts.
Compromised Immune System: Lack of sleep can weaken your body’s immune response, or defense mechanism against bacteria and viruses. It follows, then, that your immune system struggles to defend your skin against those pesky, pimple-causing germs. If you’re unfortunately familiar with acne, you will know that spots are the result of clogged up hair follicles - tiny hair strands, dead skin cells and sebum to clump together, thus forming a plug – et voila – there you have your spot.
Armed with the knowledge we need, we now know that the more sleep you get, the less cortisol you produce, the stronger your immune system is and the less likely you are to develop acne. Getting enough sleep can help reduce the chances of blocked hair follicles through halting excess oil production, and can reduce the chances of these - when they do occur - getting infected. Hooray for sleep!
Phone Bacteria: Bacteria found on mobile phones can put your skin at risk for breakouts, especially around the mouth and cheeks. If you must use your cell phone before bed, give the screen a swipe with a reusable soapy cloth (as long as your phone is water resistant!)
Dirty Pillowcases: Dirt, dust, oil and damp from your skin & hair can collect on your pillowcase, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. One of the most simple yet effective pieces of advice we’ve found is to change your pillowcase at least once a week. It’s always a treat sleeping on crisp fresh sheets in any case!
Caffeine: Sleepiness can lead us to reach for more coffee. This isn’t necessarily a direct cause of acne, but it depends whether you’re generally dehydrated, and what you mix your coffee with. Caffeine is a diuretic (it dehydrates you), and if you’re dehydrated, we know that acne can get worse. When your skin is parched, the dehydrated cells build up and retain oil, clogging your pores.
We also know that dairy & sugar can sometimes cause acne (see our previous article on clean skin: clean diet!), which some of us add to our favourite coffee. It therefore goes without saying that coffee loaded with milk and sugar, can actually make your acne worse.
How Do I Get More Sleep?
Sleep is great. While you snooze, your body boosts blood flow to your skin, which is what gives it that flushed, rosy, radiant look when you wake up. If you’re not giving your skin and body enough time to do this, your skin might appear dull, lifeless, or tired-looking as a result.
So simple it sounds, just sleep some more – am I right? Not so easy. Having a good night’s sleep depends on so many factors. While some fall asleep before their heads hit the pillow, you might be a much lighter sleeper. You might share a room, or your bedroom might be next to a busy road. Your partner might be a washing-machine style snorer! Some people suffer from depression and anxiety, which can keep you up at night worrying and going around in circles in your mind.
Stay tuned for our article next month on ‘Sleep Hygiene’ – because not only do we want clear skin, we want to feel fresh and happy too! But for now – try to limit screen time before bed, reduce caffeine in the afternoon, and do what you can to create the perfect, sleep-friendly environment in your bedroom, where you can drift off into that lovely slumber that does you and your body so much good.