The secrets of beauty sleep

It is something we can't live without, yet with hectic lifestyles becoming the norm, less of us are getting the amount of sleep we need to function. You may feel like a zombie the next day, but too little sleep can leave you looking a bit ghoulish as well. And, unfortunately, this isn’t just my impression - Swedish researchers explored this phenomenon in 2011 (1).

Saves your looks…
This study had individuals like you and me, rate photographs of the same group of people taken when they were sleep-deprived and when they were well-rested. The rater’s criteria were perceived health, attractiveness and tiredness.

Not only did the sleep-starved people appear more tired, but they were also perceived as less healthy and - you guessed it - less attractive, when compared to their appearance following a good night’s sleep.
Seems there really is something to this beauty sleep lark after all, it’s more than an excuse for a lie-in. Not convinced yet?

Nobody likes a grouch…
Ever get a bad case of the grumps after a night of poor sleep? I’ll be the first to admit that I can get irritable and according to research, this isn’t due to any character flaw (phew!) but the profound effect that sleep can have on our mood.

The quality, amount and the regularity of our sleep can each reduce feelings of vigour (2)  and encourage a negative mood. Women can appear less attractive when posing with sad facial expressions than when posing with a neutral or a happy face (3).

So, in an indirect way, our apearance can further be deteriorated by sleep deprivation through the effects it has on mood. A volatile mood and unstable emotions are consistently recorded in sleep-deprived research participants.

We might also become loose cannons as clinical evidence has suggested that there is a link between emotions and sleep, with negative emotions being correlated with sleep-deprivation(7)

Helps growth…
The Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is released during sleep so a delay in going to sleep can also delay the peak HGH secretion (4). Studies have linked HGH to the processes of skin growth and regeneration, particularly because it has been shown to stimulate collagen production (5).

For a nicer figure…
There may be a role for sleep in successful weight maintenance as well. Research has consistently found links between sleep and appetite regulation and one study has even found a correlation between sleep loss and having a high body mass index (BMI) or increased appetite (6).

The reason our plates might get fuller after sleeping less has to do with the hormones leptin, which suppresses food intake, and ghrelin, which stimulates appetite and fat production (6). There is indication that the balance of these hormones may swing in favour of ghrelin after sleep loss.

We know that sleep impacts our general health and wellbeing (7) so what will you do about it tonight? Who knows, getting enough sleep might also save you a few dollars at the drugstore!

4 Handy tips for a good night’s sleep
  1. Write out a to-do list just before you hit the hay. Although not a problem for everyone, sometimes our mind can go crazy thinking at night. Writing these out might relieve you of some of those troublesome thoughts appearing.
  2. Have a sleep routine. Go to bed when you are sleepy and get up at roughly the same time every day. If this means a dreaded alarm clock has to come into play, so be it.
  3. Open a window. Personally, I sleep much better in a well-ventilated room though this might not work for everyone, especially if you’r sensitive to noise.
  4. Exercise! Even just moderate exercise or a brisk walk has been shown to help the quality of sleep a person gets at night. You know what they say, sometimes one has to suffer for beauty. Well, it’s a good thing then that sleep is but a pleasant experience for both mind and body.
(1) Axelsson, J., Sundelin, T., Ingre, M., Van Someren, E.J.W., Olsson, A. & Lekander, M. (2011). Beauty sleep: experimental study on the perceived health and attractiveness of sleep deprived people. British Medical Journal, doi: 10.1136/bmj.c6614
(2) Pilcher, J., Huffcut, A.I., (1996). Effects of sleep deprivation on performance: a meta analysis. Sleep, 19(4), 318-326.
(3) Mueser, K.T., Grau, B.W., Sussman, S., Rosen, A.J. (1984). You’re only as pretty as you feel: facial expression as a determinant of physical attractiveness.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46(2), 469-478.
(4) Takahashi, Y., Kipnis, D.M. & Daughaday, W.H. (1968). Growth hormone secretion during sleep. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 47(9), 2079-2090.
(5) Kahan, V., Andersen, M.L., Tomimori, J., Tufik, S. (2010). Can poor sleep affect skin integrity? Medical Hypotheses, 75(6), 535-537.
(6) Prinz, P. (2004). Sleep, appetite, and obesity – what is the link? PloS Med 1(3): e61. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0010061
(7) Haack, M., Mullington, J.M. (2005). Sustained sleep restriction reduces emotional and physical well-being. Pain, 119(1-3), 56-64.

Helena blogs for a digital sleep improvement program created by experts in sleep science, Sleepio.

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  1. Lack of sleep and stress can cause ALL SORTS of problems, be it physical or mental.
    missing a night of sleep really messes up my skin i look like ive come back from the dead lol. beauty sleep sure is true. sleep whenever you can and im sure youll see a difference.

  2. Urmila2:40 PM

    look at people who don't get a lot of sleep. they have black bags under their eyes, they look half dead, they look aged. That's why you need your beauty sleep.

  3. Veena2:44 PM

    adequate sleep is essential for health, which is essential for beauty. Sorry. Extra sleep does not lead to more beauty.

  4. the goji berry can also help relieve headaches and promote restful sleep


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