4 Ways Lack of Sleep Affects Our Skin, According to the Experts

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Giampaolo Sgura / Trunk Archive
This article first appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of New Beauty. Click here to subscribe

Of U.S. adults, 88 percent have lost sleep due to staying up late to watch multiple episodes of a TV show or streaming series, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. If you can’t break the Netflix binge and all the other negatives associated with lack of sleep don’t faze you, consider these on-the-surface signs that doctors say they see the most.

“Cortisol levels rise with sleep deprivation, which can worsen inflammatory conditions and result in poor collagen deposition; blood flow to the face is increased during sleep and sleep deprivation can lead to a gray or ashen appearance; and eyes can appear swollen and red with dark circles.” —Newport Beach, CA plastic surgeon Sanjay Grover, MD

“Sleeping habits can have a profound effect on the appearance of the eyes, particular the lower eyelids. Patients will often notice that their ‘bags’ are worse in the morning. This is usually due to the lower eyelid fat holding on to water that gets worse when the individual is in a sleeping.” —Boca Raton, FL oculoplastic surgeon Steven Fagien, MD

“Not getting enough sleep is associated with increased stress, and under stress, we regress. That means that, in the short- term, your skin issues—acne, eczema, psoriasis, itching—will flare up. Chronic sleep deprivation can also translate into disruption of collagen pathways, more rapid skin aging and even reduced wound healing.” —Nanuet, NY dermatologist Heidi Waldorf, MD

“Lack of sleep is typically associated with lack of horizontal posture. This leads to redistribution of water volume where the feet and lower extremities swell and the face can experience volume loss. Even the hair can appear thinner and less volumized from retained sebum and loss of volume effect. Hollywood figured this out a long time ago—makeup artists are experts at reversing it.” —Spokane, WA dermatologist Wm. Philip Werschler, MD

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