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Is sleep deprivation ruining your skin?

Healthy living 25/06/2015

© Jodie Kidd pictured after 8 hours sleep (left) and then after five nights with only six hours sleep Failing to get a good night’s sleep can leave you feeling grumpy and looking far from your best. However, a new study has shown that the effects of sleep deprivation on your face, your skin and your health can be truly alarming. Supermodel Jodie Kidd has taken part in a study conducted by Bensons For Beds to determine what the impact of getting just six hours shut-eye instead of the recommended eight is. The results, which were collected after the 30 female participants had just six hours of sleep for five nights in a row, were shocking.

Facing the truth

Before they started the study, Jodie and the other participants were photographed and had their skin tested by a Visia machine, which maps and measures elements on the skin such as spots, pores, red areas, brown spots and porphyrins (bacteria on the skin). Once she’d completed her five nights, Jodie’s pores increased by 56% in number and 83% in visibility, She had 11% more spots which were 23% more visible, and the porphyrins on her skin went up by 65%.

As her ‘after’ photo shows, that lead to short term effects of an aged appearance, more spots, oily skin, dull pallor, broken capillaries, bags under the eyes and dark patches of skin. The warning signs suggested that if people only have six hours of sleep on a regular basis, the long term affects will be premature ageing, scarring, poor complexion and permanent discolouration of the skin. All in all, a very worrying prospect.

“As a busy working mother, it is quite common that I don’t get the recommended sleep per night,” says Jodie. “Having seen the really quite significant effects, I realise rest is an important part of my skincare routine.”

The study showed lack of sleep caused increased spots and more defined wrinkles and fine lines © Benson for Beds The study showed lack of sleep caused increased spots and more defined wrinkles and fine lines Why sleep is so vital

During the hours you are asleep, your body’s hydration rebalances and there is a rise in growth hormone as it repairs itself. That allows the skin to recover moisture and for damaged cells to be renewed.
“Sleep is a time for the body to heal, renew and eliminate toxins from the skin,” explains Dr Guy Meadows, founder of The Sleep School.

“When sleep is reduced, so is the body’s ability to carry out these functions. The study showed significant results over a period of just five days, yet the reality is many people are sleeping in this manner for weeks, months and even years, leading to long term consequences for their looks and how they feel about themselves.”

During the night, your body’s nervous system switches to a parasympathetic state, which allows greater circulation and oxygen flow to the skin.

“This is when the skin gets a lot of internal attention and repair mechanisms go into action,” explains author Ellen Marmur MD, author of the book Simple Beauty Skin: Every Woman’s Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin. “Receptors spring to life within the blood vessels and grab amino acid molecules to help build more collagen, and fluid and toxins are drained.”

Less sleep aos leads to a significant increase in red areas © Benson for Beds Less sleep aos leads to a significant increase in red areas Red for danger!

According to the Bensons for Beds study, 46% of the nation regularly gets just six hours sleep and that means big problems for the skin and our looks. In the eye area, the skin has much less fat so any water retention is much more apparent.

Without slumber, the excessive fluid gathered in the eye area isn’t transported to the bladder and so the eyes get puffy. Lack of blood flow to the skin also leave your complexion looking dull and accentuates dark circles under the eyes. If your sleep patterns continue to be unhealthy, your skin will age prematurely.

That means the collagen inside it degrades and the skin sags so you could be left with permanent bags under your eyes.

Study also found less sleep can cause oily skin © Benson for Beds Study also found less sleep can cause oily skin The mental toll

Worse still, lack of sleep has a huge impact on our mental health. Scientists suggest that a person who is sleep deprived is likely to have a more reactive amygdala, which is a small almond-shaped structure in the temporal lobe that helps you process emotions. They found that the amygdala in sleep-deprived people has a lower connectivity with the medial prefrontal-cortex, which helps contextualise and regulate emotional responses. So it’s no wonder that tired folks are more likely to burst into tears, feel surging emotions and struggle to cope.

Five tips to improve your sleep

1.    Turn your technology off
The screens on your devices confuses the light sensitive cells in your eyes and could stop you producing melatonin, the sleep promoting hormone. Shut down 30-40 minutes before bed for the best chance of rest.

2.    Write a to-do list
Don’t lay awake fearing what lies ahead tomorrow. Work out what you need to do, write it down in a list and go to bed safe in the knowledge a plan is in place.

3.    Stay in bed
Don’t be tempted to get up if you wake up. You are likely to wake a few times in the night as the body transitions between sleep cycles. Just relax and enjoy the comfort of your bed.

4.    Don’t exercise too late
Being active is a great way to promote better sleep but time it properly. If you exercise too late, you will be over-stimulated and could find it hard to drop off.

5.    Keep your body clock on time
Try to establish a regular sleeping routine and stick to it. If you go to bed at the same time often, the link between night time and sleep will be strengthened.

How to hide tiredness

1. Get out the face scrub
By massaging a face scrub into your skin, you will remove dead cells and promote blood flow.

2. Use tinted moisturiser.
This is a great way to brighten a dull complexion and hydrate your tired skin.

3. Harness the power of make up
You’ll need a good foundation that evens the colour of your skin. Use mascara to help widen tired eyes and blusher to give you some colour in your cheeks.

4. Get lippy
Don’t be tempted to slap on red lippy to finish your make up. Instead find a shade that most closely resembles your natural lip colour when you are in good health and use that. It’ll help freshen your look.

5. Stock up on anti-oxidants
Make sure your brekkie includes foods like blueberries and apples with anti-oxidant polyphenols that relax the arteries to increase blood flow. That can only help your skin.

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