How a Bad Night’s Sleep Can Impact Your Skin

A good night’s sleep can be extra-hard to find these days. Insomnia has always been a problem for some, but the pandemic has made the issue a little more universal. Not only are 36% of Americans too stressed to sleep, according to one report, but another study found that the quality of sleep has similarly been disturbed, too. 

It’s enough for some experts to have dubbed it “coronasomnia,” and it could be having a sneaky (if not exactly subtle) impact on your skin. “Our skin repairs itself while we are asleep” says New York dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist. “So, getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night is crucial.” And while ample sleep anytime is better than nothing, it’s thought that your skin’s repair mode is at its peak from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., so turning in earlier, too, might even take those benefits to the next level. Here, we’re taking a closer look at all the ways sleep loss affects your skin — and what you can do about it.

No-Sleep Sign: Dark Undereye Circles

Dark circles under the eyes might be the most infamous sign of a poor night’s sleep — and it’s not just anecdotal. In fact, “studies show red circles or dark circles under the eyes when people haven’t slept enough,” says Jaliman. That’s because when you don’t get enough sleep, both in terms of quality and quantity, the blood vessels around your eyes dilate. That means more blood flow to the area, which can give it a red or purple appearance, depending on your skin tone.

The good news? It’s usually temporary. An eye cream with caffeine, like Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Sleeping Mask, can also help; caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it constricts the offending blood vessels to reduce the appearance of redness. Plus, part of the reason the blood vessels can be so visible is because of the naturally thin skin under the eyes. This eye cream contains an encapsulated retinol, which can (gently!) promote collagen production and in turn help improve skin thickness.

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No-Sleep Sign: Dry, Rough Skin

Better sleep, better skin barrier? It’s true. Studies have found that when you’re snoozing, you enjoy increased blood flow to the skin, which can help fortify the skin barrier. Dreamy, right? On the other hand, “sleep deprivation decreases the barrier function of the skin, so there is more water loss and increased dryness,” says Dr. Jaliman.

There’s also your skin’s natural overnight repair process to consider, which works best with adequate moisture (which we’ve covered in-depth before, if you’re curious). So, if you know you’re in for a late night, take a strategic approach and go all-in on moisture. Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask contains hyaluronic acid, a humectant that can offset water loss, and amino acid-rich watermelon extract to help you wake up fresh-faced.

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No-Sleep Sign: Fine Lines and Wrinkles

There are a few ways that sleep loss can lead to earlier signs of aging. “Sleep deprivation can increase the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol,” says Jaliman. “Cortisol increases the breakdown of collagen and elastic tissue, so it prematurely ages our skin.” Plus, a study in Medical Hypotheses found that chronic sleep loss may also reduce function of the immune system in skin. That’s kind of a big deal, considering how important the skin’s immune system is

To keep your skin firm and bouncy, try applying Avocado Melt Retinol Sleeping Mask before bed or as a flash-facial after you wake up. The creamy mask deeply hydrates skin while smoothing it with encapsulated retinol, which speeds cellular turnover. Because sure, while eight hours is the goal, it doesn’t always happen — so, in the meantime, there’s skincare.

Read more about the power of a good night’s sleep: