Do you ever feel like no matter how much you invest in your skin, it just doesn’t show results? It doesn’t matter whether you buy that luxury moisturizer, or spend an hour every day attempting that ten-tiered skincare routine; your skin just doesn’t love you back.
Well, your unrequited love might have an unexpected solution. Sleep, and not enough of it, could be the root of your cosmetic concern.
At Pore House, we take a holistic approach to skincare, that’s why we discuss everything from A to Zzz’s…...We’re here to talk about your sleep schedule, circadian rhythms, and how they affect the health of your skin.
What are your circadian rhythms?
Even for self-proclaimed beauty gurus, the term ‘circadian rhythms’ is uncharted territory. To understand it in the context of health care, we first need to understand what the term means.
Simply put, a circadian rhythm consists of all the mental, physical, and behavioral changes a person (or any organism, really) goes through during a complete cycle of activity.
According to a 2016 article in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, it's like a master clock that takes cues from the environment to regulate our patterns of activity.
Any organism, animal, or even a human being has bodily components influenced by dark and light. For example, if you sleep at night (in the dark) and are awake and functioning in the day (in the light), you are functioning in a light-related circadian rhythm.
How Circadian Rhythms Are Related to the Human Body
As philosophical as it may sound, your body responds to both dark and light. In fact, a part of the brain actually detects light and schedules body functions and repairs accordingly (Like skin repair?!) Yup, you see where we are headed.
The exposure to light, or lack thereof, influences the way your body functions. This means that a part in the hypothalamus (remember high school biology?) senses the presence of light in your surroundings and acts accordingly.
Guess what? Your mom forcing you to go sleep before midnight was actually pretty decent advice. Your body needs to replenish all that it has lost throughout the day, and it quite literally doesn’t like the spotlight when it’s doing that. In fact, when it feels like it’s very dark and quiet, it begins its healing processes, which include regulation of hormones and the rebuilding of muscles.
Sleep is essential for both the body and mind. Out of sync, circadian rhythms have been linked to common mental disorders such as depression and metabolic malfunctions such as obesity.
Your Sleeping Habits and the Circadian Rhythm
Okay girls, this is not a drill! Beauty sleep is real.
You feel your drowsiest when the night is the darkest, which is between 2 to 4 am. This is where the magic happens. Detecting the absence of light, the brain sends signals to the body to get to work and rebuild all the worn-out cells and tissues and undo the damage done to you by your strenuous lifestyle. If you usually enjoy deep REM sleep during these hours, chances are your body’s circadian rhythm is in sync with your sleep schedule.
In short, the brain begins the process of your beauty sleep.
Circadian Rhythm and Your Skin
The problem starts here: it’s 2 am and your body is ready to make you look runway ready. Wait, what’s that? You’re on your phone stalking your MCM, the light searing into your eyeballs? Well, guess what? Your body is no longer in the mood.
When your sleep schedule and your circadian rhythms are running on opposite schedules, consequences are inevitable. Research shows that UV light rays screw up the DNA in your cells even if you’re in the dark. Do you know what emits UV rays? Your phone, your laptop, your TV… literally any screen.
But what is it that the UV is actually impacting that inhibits cellular repair? We'll introduce a few concepts here that we'll look deeper into in the future with the help of our Physician Advisory Board.
1. Melatonin & Healthy Glow
Melatonin is one of the key sleep regulators, and levels shift with our circadian rhythms - they're high at night, low during the day, and dramatically affected by light. Melatonin levels are connected to everything from hair growth to wound healing. For this reason, it's a popular topical and ingestible supplement to support glowing skin and healthy hair. When our melatonin production becomes irregular, we inhibit our body's ability to repair damage overnight.
This means that scrolling through your ex’s instagram just before you will yourself to sleep is the most counter-productive thing you can do to your skin. If your body senses light when it has scheduled its repair, it will postpone body maintenance. This, in turn, means that your body never gets that internal spa day it needs for its survival. In turn, your lack of sleep is showing.
2. Cortisol & Stress
Cortisol levels also fluctuate throughout the day. At night, your cortisol level goes down. According to a 2013 article in Clinics in Dermatology, there is a known link between irregular cortisol levels resulting from lack of sleep or poor sleep quality and certain inflammatory conditions like acne and contact dermatitis.
Additionally, stress can diminish collagen production, contributing to an increase in fine lines and wrinkles. We'll come back to cortisol and the skin when we revisit how skin and stress are linked, as cortisol is also known as the stress hormone.
3. Body Temperature & Hydration
Circadian rhythms are also closely tied to body and skin temperature - both of which play a role in quality of sleep as well as skin conditions. Both body and skin temperatures follow predictable fluctuation levels. At night, skin blood flow and temperature are higher, which results in greater permeability of the skin barrier (that's why we wear our most intensive products at night - when our skin is ready to soak in moisture and reparative ingredients). It also means a greater chance of trans-epidermal water loss and potential for increased itchiness - something often experienced by eczema and psoriasis patients.
So, How Can I Keep Myself Balanced?
Do you ever wonder why Keanu Reeves has such flawless skin? Well, because he's an angel. Another plausible explanation is that his circadian rhythm is in sync with his sleep schedule.
The good news is that slowly, but surely, you too can sync sleep with your circadian rhythm.
Avoid common mistakes that may alter your circadian rhythm like:
- Sleeping in too late. Stick to a schedule!
- Traveling too often and experiencing jet lag (But like, this problem is so last year)
- Shun that screen-time. Try a book or meditation instead
- Packing on your heavier moisturizers and anti-inflammatory topicals at night
Sleeping late is no longer cool. It’s the age of skincare and self-love!