How sleep impacts our looks

Sleep has been extensively studied. The results? Incredible! The old scientific thought that our body basically shuts off during sleep has been proven completely wrong. In reality, our body focuses on repair and recovery during sleep. Lack of sleep causes a drab, dull complexion with baggy eyes and increased wrinkles plus hair loss, breakage, & damage. 

“Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer.  It enhances your memory and makes you more creative.  It makes you look more attractive.  It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings.  It protects you from cancer and dementia.  It wards off colds and the flu.  It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes.  You’ll feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious.  Are you interested?” -Matthew Walker, PhD – Why We Sleep

Sleep - worth more than any beauty product available.

We all know that eating well, exercising, and sleep are the foundations of health.  But, fascinatingly, science now indicates that sleep may actually be the foundation on which the other two habits rests.  Take away quality sleep then eating well and physical exercise becomes less than optimal.

Roughly 1/3 of our life is spent sleeping (or should be).  Over the past 20 years there’s been an explosion of research indicating all the impressive benefits of sleep.  Simply within the brain, sleep enhances our ability to learn, memorize, and make logical decision and choices.  PLUS the right amount of sleep helps keep us uplifted emotionally and able to cope with the daily stressors life throws at us.

“Emerging from this (sleep) research renaissance is the unequivocal message: sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day.” Matthew Walker, PhD

So here’s another tidbit – as long as a person is in a state of sleep deprivation (however small), their body is in a stress state.  Remember how stress and skin health are connected?  Read more about it here.

Here's something interesting....Dr. Tina Sundelin at Stockholm University did a study on attractiveness and sleep.  In the study she took a group of men and women and photographed them twice under identical lighting at the same time of day (the women wore no makeup and the men were clean shaven).  The only difference between the two photographs was the amount of sleep the individuals had before each photo shoot.  In one photo they had gotten a full 8 hours of sleep and in the other they were restricted to 5 hours of sleep.  Then a group of participants judged perceived health, tiredness and attractiveness in each photo in a randomized order – they didn’t know anything about the photos. 

The faces pictured after a short night of sleep were rated as more fatigued, less healthy and significantly less attractive.  Can we say “beauty sleep”?

Some of the science...

Our wakefulness and sleepiness are controlled through a delicate balance of hormones.  There’s two governing forces within this hormonal play – the 24-hour circadian rhythm and the sleep-pressure signal of adenosine.  These two systems should be aligned in order to support our energy during the day and sleep at night.  Remember that these two rhythms can be thrown out of balance rather easily.

So how do you know you're getting enough sleep?

It may be tough to know.  Here's two simple questions to ask yourself to identify your sleep quantity and quality (although this definitely isn’t all-encompassing – it’s a quick indicator put together by sleep scientist Matthew Walker, PhD):

  • After waking up in the morning, could you fall back asleep at ten or eleven am (if you haven’t drank coffee)?   If yes, it’s pretty likely you’re not getting enough sleep or your sleep is not optimal.
  • Can you function optimally without caffeine before noon?  If no, it’s possible you’re covering up your sleep deprivation with a blanket of caffeine. 

The key with sleep is getting enough for your body (the range is somewhere between 7 – 9 hours for an adult) and quality (meaning your body goes through the complete cycles of sleep – REM and NREM).

Before we close, here's three tips to troubleshoot sleep:

#1 Get sunlight exposure first thing in the morning and shut off screens at least one hour before bed. Proper light exposure makes a significant impact on our sleep hormone balance.

#2  Try avoiding caffeine after 2 PM since it stays in the body for many hours, affecting your brain’s ability to get into deep sleep.

#3  Make your bedroom cave-like (dark and cool). It triggers hibernation mode for our brains, supporting deep restful sleep.  Try make it as dark as possible.

There's so much to sleep and if you struggle, it's always a good idea to discuss with your doctor!  A book that goes deep into sleep is "Why We Sleep" by Matthew Walker, PhD.


Hanna is a mom of busy children, is completing her Diploma is Organic Skincare Formulation and is a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. Hanna's love of natural skincare began with her own journey of struggle and angst with skin issues. Finally, after finding no solutions she rolled up her sleeves and spent half a decade researching ingredients and formulas until....finally...something actually worked. Most of her time is spend trying to keep up with the kids, folding something like 99 loads of laundry a day, and making sure nobody starves (they seem to do that 30 minutes after meal time). But when she's got a spare minute she loves helping other women achieve radiance, naturally!


A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: The contents of this email and website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.  I am not a doctor nor do I pretend to have that level of knowledge.  These posts are intended for basic informational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice of any sort. 

September 20, 2021 — Hanna Hendrickson

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