So, what do you do to keep looking young? Do you spend a lot of time and money using different skin care products? Maybe you dabble in some botox and fillers? Or maybe you do a few laser treatments per year?

Woman using skin cream

But are you sleeping well?

What if getting your beauty sleep is one of the missing pieces to your quest for the fountain of youth?

Sleep deprivation is something we are all too familiar with. I know I’ve deprived myself of sleep for various reasons. Sometimes it’s because I’m up late working on something late or I fall asleep and something wakes me up and I can’t fall back asleep.

And then there are those lovely nights where I just wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety and racing thoughts and find myself staring at the clock and counting down the hours until I have to get up. I think…if I fall asleep now I have 3 hours before the alarm goes off etc. And then if I do fall asleep I wake up discombobulated and crazy tired and just can’t seem to catch up the rest of the day!

And have you ever felt that you are so sleep deprived that there just isn’t enough caffeine in the world that could help you awaken and you just need to take a nap?! Usually that happens on days where I don’t have the luxury of being able to take a nap, but I do seem to crash out early on those days.

Do you notice a difference in you skin on mornings when you sleep well vs the sleep deprived mornings?

Well, a lot is going on with your skin (and your body) while you sleep.

Sleeping Cat


Here are few things that happen to our skin when we are sleep deprived:

1. Increased Cortisol

Cortisol is one of our main stress hormones. When you increase the amount of stress hormone circulating in our body, you can see more inflammation. That means that you may see your inflammatory skin conditions get worse such as acne, eczema, psoriasis from lack of sleep.

2. Decreased Collagen

Collagen is one of the key components that keeps our skin looking plump and youthful. You can think of it as a strong net under the skin that’s holding it up and keeping it raised and taunt and as we lose collagen the net becomes more slacked and you see more sagging and wrinkled skin on the surface.

Aged skin diagram

When we are sleep deprived, the cells that make collagen, called fibroblasts, are decreased and we are making less collagen.

Additionally, metalloproteinase, which breaks down collagen and elastin, is increased. This means the collagen that is there may be breaking down more with increased metalloproteinase activity.

The balance between fibroblasts and metalloproteinase is key to the integrity of your skin and aging process. WIth decreased fibroblasts and increased metalloproteinase you may have increased wrinkles, thinner skin, and decreased elasticity. Ugh!


3. Decreased Skin Blood flow & Hydration

Sleep deprivation can lead to less blood flow to the skin and more dehydration of the skin. This means that less nutrients are getting the skin to heal it but also you may awaken looking drab and dull and miss your healthy glow.


Puffy eyes and dark circles can also be a result of decreased blood flow and hydration to the skin. Gravity from reclined position during sleep and dehydration keeps fluid and blood around your eyes rather than circulating more around your face and body. This results in more fluid build up around the eyes and darkening of skin under the eyes from stagnant blood flow which is more visible because the skin is very thin on the eyelids.


Sleep Cycle

The key to beauty sleep is to aim to get 7-9 well-rested hours of sleep per night. The reason why we need this amount of sleep is because of the timing of our sleep cycle.

Our sleep cycle consists of a few different stages.

Stage 1 is when we are just falling asleep and feeling drowsy.

The second stage edges us more into a deeper sleep and your body release certain chemicals that make it harder to wake up.

In Stage 3 we are officially in deep sleep and are releasing growth hormone. Growth hormone will help restore your body from the stress of the day.

REM (rapid-eye movement) sleep stage is when we dream and helps with memory, learning and mood.

On average, one sleep cycle takes 90-120 minutes.

Most of us go through about 5 sleep cycles per night. Each stage of the sleep cycle has different benefits so you want to make sure you get complete all of the sleep cycles so you reap all of their benefits.

Sleep cycle diagram


10 Beauty Sleep Tips

Ok! So now you know what happens to our body when we are sleep deprived and what goes on with our body when we sleep. Now, let’s talk about some tips to help you sleep like a baby!


Baby Sleeping

  1. Turn off your electronics a few hours before bed. If you find yourself working on the computer late or checking your phone or just watching that one more episode on your Netflix binge before you go to bed, the next best thing is to wear blue blocking glasses which block out the blue light. (I also find these glasses helpful when I’m looking at a computer screen for hours). My favorite light blocking glasses are Truedark’s shades. The Book Club glasses also offer an option for blue light screens.
  2. Keep electronics out of the bedroom. If you use your phone as an alarm, you may consider getting a regular good old alarm clock or if you must have your phone in your room be sure to place it and all other electronic devices on airplane mode.
  3. Embrace the dark. Keep your bedroom the darkest room in the house. You may want to invest in some blackout shades or drapes. Don’t forget about those pesky lights from electronic devices on your clocks, chargers, TV (you shouldn’t have TV in the bedroom anyways btw!). I use the TrueDark light dots and take a pack with me when I travel to block out TV on/off light that always seems to be right in front of the bed. Another hack for traveling is to take those hangers that have clips to hold your pants and use them to hold together the edges of the blackout drapes in the room so you don’t have the annoying sliver of light that seems to shine right on you in the morning.Aromatherapy
  4. Try some aromatherapy. I spritz my pillow with lavender at night and sometimes I will use my diffuser to fill the room with calming scent before I recline for the night. You can also place a small amount on the bottom of your feet and behind your ears before you fall asleep.
  5. Keep the room cool. Now, I get cold easily so this one is hard for me. Ideally you have the temperature cooler in the room at night than during the day. You can always grab some blankets to throw on if you get chilled in the middle of the night, but chances are you are going to sleep deeper when the room is cool. There are cooling pillows and blankets you can purchase to get your bedding cool if you can’t get the temperature in the room cool.
  6. Relax. Take some time before you go to bed to unwind. Maybe you have a cup of hot tea, soak in a hot bath or you meditate, journal or read a book (with dim lighting of course). Find a routine that relaxes you and try to stick to same routine on most nights so your body receives consistent cues that it’s time for rest.Woman Reading
  7. Reserve your bed. Be sure that you reserve your bed for restoration activities, ie sleep, naps, rest and sex. Don’t try to do work in bed until you fall asleep. You want your mind and your body to associate your bed as time for sleep and rest and not something stressful.
  8. Sleep supplements. I recommend you only use these when you really need them and try to rely on your natural sleep cycle as restoration as much as possible. My favorite sleep elixir is a flower elixir from a company called Lotus Wei. The Quiet Mind and Inner Peace elixirs are my go to remedies for when I have trouble sleeping. A few drops and I sleep peacefully without feeling groggy in the morning. On rougher nights, I may take magnesium 250-300 mg or a sleep supplement with natural ingredients if needed.
  9. Listen to relaxing music. One of my favorite sounds in this world is the sound of beach waves. I put this on my home speaker system before bed and gently become lulled asleep to the sound of the soft waves hitting the sand. For you, it might be something different or you may prefer peace and quiet when you sleep. Consider listening to something soothing or relaxing before you go to bed to signal your auditory senses to calm. There are some great apps that you can listen to that have relaxing music and meditations. See my recent post on “How meditation helped my skin” for some great resources.
  10. Release tension. Right before I fall asleep if I check my body to see if I was holding it in a tense position for some odd reason during the day. Sometimes I don’t even realize it until I focus on it I will become aware of tension in my shoulders or neck. When this happens, I go through a body relaxation technique that relaxes my body head to toe. I start with my head and I take each part of my head and slowly relax it. I will start with my scalp and then my ears, my forehead, my eyebrows, eyelids, cheeks, nose, lips, jaw, etc. And then I will work my way down to my neck, shoulders, each arm, forearms, hands, fingers, etc. Then onto my shoulders and my back, chest, abdomen, hips etc. Lastly, each thigh, knees, calves, feet and toes. I will then focus on my breath and take deep breaths and set the intention of relaxation and restoration. In a few moments, I’m asleep!

Hope this inspires you to make some changes to your sleep routine so you can be sure to get your beauty sleep and stay beautiful inside and out!