Sleep deprivation comes with many consequences . . . including cosmetic ones
The issues that can occur due to sleep deprivation are widespread and varied. From the more immediate symptoms such as a lack of energy and poor concentration, to long-term health consequences like an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other medical conditions, the impact of poor sleep shows just how important rest is for our overall wellbeing.
Often, when we get a bad night’s sleep, one of the first things we notice is a change in our appearances. Heavy features, dark circles and sallow complexions are all common following a bout of sleeplessness, but how far do the cosmetic consequences of poor sleep actually go?
What does sleep deprivation do to your appearance?
Even if we’re denying our tiredness, our appearance often gives away the fact that we’ve had a bad night’s sleep to those around us. Those notorious under-eye bags aren’t just an urban legend; they really do come out to play when we aren’t getting enough rest.
The skin under your eyes differs from the rest of your face. For one thing, it is thinner, which means that the blood vessels are closer to the surface. When you don’t get enough restorative sleep at night, these blood vessels dilate, causing an increase in blood flow that is more noticeable in this area. Through the thin skin under your eyes, the dark tint created by the higher volume of blood is visible.
In other words, sleep deprivation does indeed cause dark circles. It also causes the skin under your eyes to take on a swollen and puffy appearance due to excess fluids. This results in the “bags under your eyes” we associate with tiredness.
And research shows that dark, swollen undereye areas aren’t the only cosmetic consequence of poor sleep. Hanging eyelids (or “sleepy eyes”), red eyes, sallow skin and a dropping in the corners of the mouth are all associated with sleep deprivation.
According to research undertaken by the National Institute of Health, participants who suffered from sleep deprivation even reported more prominent fine lines and wrinkles, and on the whole looked “much sadder” than people who enjoyed a quality night’s sleep.
How does a good night’s sleep help?
While we’re asleep, our bodies are resting and recovering – and part of this recovery occurs in the skin. The organ rebuilds its collagen as we sleep and repairs any damage caused from UV exposure, reducing wrinkles, age spots, discolouration and more. If you cut back on sleep, you’re effectively giving your skin less time to repair itself, and the consequences of this can show in your physical appearance.
One study published in Sleep compared the appearance of people following eight hours sleep versus five hours sleep. Participants were observed to have darker circles, more swollen eyes, duller complexions and more wrinkles when operating on less sleep.
Improving your sleep routine is so important when it comes to looking and feeling healthy. Set yourself a sleep schedule and stick to it, aiming to go to sleep and wake up at around the same time every day. Ensure your bedroom is well-suited to sleep, keeping it cool and dark and free from electronics. Avoid using your phone in the hour before bed, opting to read or meditate instead.
Implementing simple measures like these into your sleep routine can help you enjoy better rest come bedtime, allowing you to look and feel great when you wake up.