A well-rested sleep is essential to waking up energized and alert, but if you get quality zzzs, will you also wake up prettier? There are many benefits that come from getting enough shut eye, and it turns out, there’s a reason some call it beauty sleep: “It’s essential for repairing the skin,” Debra Jaliman, M.D., a New York City dermatologist and author of Skin Rules.
While some might think it’s just a catchy phrase, beauty sleep is a real thing, confirms Whitney Bowe, M.D., a New York City dermatologist and author of Dirty Looks. “When we sleep, our stress hormone (cortisol) goes down and our sleep hormone (melatonin) goes up. Our body, and our skin, are in repair mode.” In other words, nighttime gives our skin the opportunity to recover from any daytime damage.
If you want your skin and hair to look younger and healthier before you even start your daily beauty routine, here’s everything you need to know about getting a good night’s sleep the night before:
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What are the benefits of beauty sleep?
Brighter, de-puffed eyes
“Lack of restorative sleep can leave your eyes looking puffy in the morning. Why? Because, when you’re under stress, your cortisol levels rise, and this changes the salt balance in your body. In turn, this can lead you to retain water – hence, puffiness,” says Dr. Bowe. For less puffy eyes, try the above extra-pillow trick to help drain fluids! “When you lie flat, fluid can gather around your eyes,” explains Elizabeth Tanzi, M.D., a dermatologist in Washington, D.C.
Youthful, glowing skin
When we sleep, our skin is busy healing itself from damage we might have sustained in the day from UV rays or pollution. “In fact, studies show that new skin cells grow faster while you sleep,” says Dr. Bowe. “Take advantage of this period of skin renewal and restoration by cleansing skin before bed and choosing products that will optimize this recovery period so that you wake up with healthier skin.”
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Fewer wrinkles and lessened signs of aging
Time might be passing as we’re sound asleep, but our skin’s clock turns backwards during that time. “If nothing else convinces you to go to bed on time, let maintaining youthful-looking skin be the one that does,” urges Dr. Bowe. To make sure you wake up wrinkle-free, both Dr. Bowe and Jesleen Ahluwalia, M.D., suggest you sleep on your back. “Repeated pressure on the skin, causing creasing, can eventually lead to set-in lines,” says Dr. Ahluwalia.
More mileage from your skin care products
“The deeper layers of your skin are working at night to repair damage from the environmental stressors they encounter all day long. Your skin is also working to build new collagen, which keeps your skin firm and smooth,” explains Dr. Bowe. “This is why you really want to choose your nighttime products strategically to optimize your skin’s recovery during those restful, restorative hours!”
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Healthier, stronger, and longer hair
Beauty sleep actually contributes to beautiful, fuller hair, too “Sleep is actually needed for proper protein synthesis of your hair and it can impact your hormones, which will also have an impact on your hair’s growth and appearance,” says Dr. Bowe.
How many hours are necessary for beauty sleep?
When it comes to snoozing, the magic number falls between seven and eight hours of rest per night, but Dr. Bowe reminds us it’s not only the amount of sleep that matters, but the quality of our rest too. “Not all sleep is equally restorative,” explains Dr. Bowe. REM sleep happens at some point in the middle of the night, so rather than hitting the snooze button on weekends, Dr. Bowe suggests going to bed earlier and waking up at the same time every morning.
What does sleep deprivation do to your face?
“You look tired.” It’s easy for our friends and colleagues to tell when we haven’t gotten our beauty sleep thanks to pesky dark circles and lackluster skin. “Our body perceives loss of sleep, or lack of quality of sleep as stress,” says Dr. Bowe. “Those stress signals not only cause breakouts, but also make skin less capable of trapping moisture and it slows down skin cell turnover.”
What should you apply to your face before sleeping?
Not taking off your makeup at the end of the day can cause pores to get clogged, which can then lead to breakouts. Dr. Bowe recommends,“a gentle, pH balanced cleanser that will not strip your skin of its healthy oils and that will maintain the slightly acidic environment your skin barrier needs to remain intact and healthy,” like Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser (a Good Housekeeping favorite face cleanser!).
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An anti-aging night cream
Never skip your nightly cream or serum. These products work better during the “repair cycle of the skin,” which is at night, Dr. Jaliman says. An anti-aging night cream cream or serum with vitamin A or retinol before bed will help counteract fine lines, says David Leffell, M.D., a professor of dermatology and surgery at Yale University School of Medicine.
These ingredients are “often added to topical skincare products to promote skin renewal, brighten skin tone, reduce acne and boost your skin’s collagen production,” explains Dr. Bowe. Alternatively, hyaluronic acid attracts water into the skin, which helps smooth wrinkles, confirms Francesca Fusco, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist. Don’t forget lip balm and lash conditioner, too!
Silk pillowcase and hair accessories
Opt for a silk pillowcase instead of being negative affected by cotton: “Silk is easier on hair — it helps avoid tangles and breakage,” says Dr. Ahluwalia. “It’s also better for the skin because the material glides easily and prevents creasing and wrinkles.” Keep your hair out of your face while you’re sleeping by wrapping it up in a silk scarf, Chicago-based makeup artist Alle Connell suggests. Dr. Ahluwalia says that high, loose ponytail is a great way to keep your most recent blowout intact.