How Can Lack of Sleep Affect Your Skin?

Posted by Brooklyn S. on

Who doesn’t desire that radiant and youthful-looking skin? Many of us continuously strive to achieve the skin of our dreams. However, we often neglect the importance of beauty sleep in keeping our skin looking and feeling healthy. Even if you are following a complete skincare routine but not getting enough sleep, you may not get the results you had hoped for. 

Unfortunately, it’s pretty easy to fall into a pattern of sleeping less and less these days. You might be hanging out with friends, a late night at work, stress about the upcoming day, or a movie night, and next thing you know, you're slipping far below the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Many of us may not take it as a big deal. But, in reality, enough snooze is essential to keep your body and your skin healthy. This article will help you dive deeper into what lack of sleep can do to your skin and why you need to get plenty of sleep at night. So, let’s get to it! 

Why Your Skin Needs Sleep?

If you are not familiar with what your skin goes through when you have eight hours of sleep, let us help you understand. During the first three hours, the body synthesizes growth hormone (HGH) released from the pituitary gland. This hormone also aids in cell regeneration, helping to maintain a glowing and plump complexion. However, the imbalance of this hormone hinders the skin’s ability to repair and renew, leading to early signs of aging.

During the fourth and fifth hours of sleep, there is an upsurge in the level of melatonin, a hormone required for regulating the sleep-wake cycle or pattern in us. This hormone also functions as a natural antioxidant, which defends the skin against damage caused by free radicals. 

Finally, as you enter the last three hours of sleep or the REM phase, cortisol (the stress hormone) level declines. Furthermore, there is also a decrease in the skin’s temperature during this stage, which facilitates muscle relaxation and immobilization, promoting the skin’s recovery.  

What Lack of Sleep Does to Your Skin

You must be familiar with the adverse effects of inadequate sleep on your mental and physical health. However, what many of us don’t realize is how it can affect our skin. Michael Breus, PhD, a board-certified sleep specialist, says, “If you’re getting fewer than 6 hours, it’s likely affecting your appearance.”¹  Here are some changes you may observe when you don’t get enough sleep:

  • Dehydration and Dryness - As we sleep, our bodies tend to sweat more. Sleep allows the body to restore and rebalance its hydration level by inducing more perspiration on the skin. Hence, it is safe to say that sleep acts as a natural moisture retention mechanism that keeps the skin vibrant, smooth, and youthful. When you miss out on your night’s rest, it impacts the skin’s moisture level and drops the skin’s pH level. This creates an imbalance in the skin, which diminishes the skin’s ability to retain moisture, leading to dry and dehydrated skin. So it’s important to make sure your skin is properly hydrated before heading to bed. We like using Sundree’s RYSE+SHYNE Facial Serum. This lightweight serum is packed with beauty-boosting ingredients; hyaluronic acid, vitamin c, aloe, and niacinamide to help hydrate skin while minimizing the appearance of pores. 
  • Dullness - Lack of sleep or disturbance in the normal sleep-wake cycle (the time we spend awake and asleep for every 24 hours) causes a rise in the level of cortisol, which stimulates inflammation in the body.²  Inflammation is known to cause the breakdown of the proteins, elastin, and collagen needed to promote smooth and plump skin. Moreover, when you are tired due to inadequate sleep, it may result in lower microcirculation in the body. Reduced blood flow means an insufficient supply of oxygen and micronutrients, which gives the skin a dull, blotchy, and uneven appearance.
  • Under-Eye Puffiness and Dark Circles - Have you ever got up in the morning with swollen eyes and dark under-eye circles? There is a good chance that you’re not getting the required amount of sleep at night. When you don’t sleep for the recommended seven to nine hours at night, a high amount of cortisol causes the blood vessels around your eyes to dilate, paving the way to puffiness and discoloration around the eyes. Also, lack of sleep can cause water imbalance, creating inflammation and dark circles. The under-eye puffiness also differs from the usual swelling or bruising caused by an injury or infection. As far as dark circles around your eyes are concerned, they can result due to insufficient iron in the body, dehydration, or reduced blood flow due to sleeplessness. The body needs sleep for steady blood flow to help nourish and rejuvenate the skin.
  • Acne Breakouts - Stress is a known factor that can lead to acne flare-ups because it elevates the level of cortisol and inflammatory proteins in the body. The same happens when you don’t get enough sleep. The production of cortisol increases significantly, which may adversely affect the immune system and make the skin more prone to inflammatory conditions like acne. Various studies have also shown an association between lack of sleep and acne.³  Poor sleep quality and fatigue after waking up are seen to correlate with acne. Moreover, research suggests that acne can also lead to stress and anxiety, which may cause difficulty sleeping.
  • Signs of Aging - As mentioned earlier, missing out on sleep leads to a high level of cortisol (stress-causing hormone) in the body. Stress builds up in the body as it attempts to regain hormonal balance. Chronic stress can negatively impact the synthesis and integrity of collagen in the skin, which impairs the skin’s ability to repair itself. As a result, you will notice changes in the structure and firmness of the skin. As collagen in your skin breaks down, the skin starts becoming thinner and less elastic, leading to the emergence of noticeable wrinkles and fine lines. Thinner skin also alters the texture of the skin, giving it an uneven and rough appearance. Additionally, lack of sleep prevents the skin from retaining moisture, weakening the outer barrier of the skin. Reduced sleep time also slows down the recovery of the skin’s barrier. These factors make the skin more susceptible to oxidative damage, leading to the aging of the skin.

How Can You Improve Your Sleep?

Although an odd sleepless night is not going to do much harm to your skin, irregular sleep patterns and poor quality sleep over time can have a significant impact on the skin. Here are some tips to help you get your quality beauty sleep:

  • Plan Your Sleep Schedule - Make sleep your priority and allocate time for it. If you create your bedtime routine to hit the pillow at 9 p.m., stick to the plan and go to bed at the same time every night. Aim for at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep.
  • Create the Atmosphere - The atmosphere of your room can be one of the most crucial factors in helping you fall and stay asleep. Switch off or dim the lights, set temperature, and reduce noise in the room. You can also use aromatic oils with sleep-inducing and calming properties to relax your body and mind, helping you sleep better.
  • Ditch Your Digital Devices - Fight the urge to bring your smartphones and iPads to bed. It would be even better if you switched them off. There will be less temptation to check new notifications or scroll if you wake up in the middle of the night. Also, the blue light of digital devices is harmful to the skin, so you will be doing your skin another favor by keeping your devices away.
  • Take a Quick Nap - If you cannot get enough sleep at night and feel exhausted or unfocused during the day, taking a 20-minute nap can help you feel refreshed and elevate your energy level. 
  • Don’t Consume Alcohol and Caffeine - Alcohol consumption before bedtime can affect your hormones and disrupt your sleep quality and patterns. Similarly, drinking coffee stimulates the nervous system.
  • Make Your Bedding Comfortable - Your pillow, bedsheet, pillowcase, and mattress play an important role in helping you sleep better. Keep your personal preferences and comfort in mind while choosing your bedding. It is recommended to change your mattress at least every five to eight years. Moreover, having good-quality bed sheets with a high thread count can be more comfortable.
  • Try Relaxation Techniques - Various therapeutic techniques have been seen to improve sleep. Progressive relaxation techniques, like mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, visualization, and guided imagery, can help relieve physical and mental stress, allowing you to get healthier sleep. 


While you are following a consistent skincare routine to look your best, it is equally important to remember that one of the most crucial things to achieving beautiful-looking skin is getting ample sleep at night. As we sleep, our bodies recover and repair themselves. Like every other organ of the body, the skin also needs sleep to reverse and heal all the damage that can compromise its integrity. Ample quality snooze can help prevent various skin issues, like premature signs of aging, inflammation, dullness, dryness, acne, and dark under-eye circles.

So, do not hesitate to cancel your plans to get your beauty sleep. After all, we all want to achieve the skin of our dreams.




  1. Jacob, Stephanie. (2021). ‘The Truth About Beauty Sleep’, Accessed October 6, 2021. Available at:
  2. org. (2021). “What is the Sleep-Wake Cycle?”, Accessed October 6, 2021. Available at:
  3. (2019). ‘Acne Severity and Sleep Quality in Adults’, Accessed October 7, 2021. Available at:


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