An innovative clinical trial commissioned by Estée Lauder has found that sleep quality impacts skin function and aging.
The clinical research team had set out to determine if skin function and appearance is impacted by sleep quality, which is vital for the growth and renewal of the body's immune and other physiological systems.
Poor sleepers showed more signs of skin aging and had a slower recovery from environmental stressors such as disruption of the skin barrier or ultraviolet (UV) radiation. They also had a poorer assessment of their own skin and facial appearance.
This study is the first to show that inadequate sleep affects skin health and speeds up skin aging.
Insufficient sleep has become a worldwide epidemic. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to medical problems such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and immune deficiency. However, its effects on skin function have not been properly studied.
The study involved 60 pre-menopausal women between the ages of 30-49 years, with half of them falling into the poor quality sleep category. All participants underwent a visual skin evaluation and participated in several non-invasive skin challenge tests. Participants also filled out a sleep log for one week to get an accurate idea of sleep duration.
The study found that poor quality sleepers showed many more signs of intrinsic skin aging including fine lines, uneven pigmentation and slackening of skin and reduced elasticity.
The study also found that good quality sleepers recovered more efficiently from stress to the skin. Recovery from sunburn was more sluggish in poor quality sleepers, indicating that inflammation is less efficiently resolved.
Poor quality sleepers were also much more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI) - in fact, less than a quarter of good quality sleepers were obese compared to 44% of poor quality sleepers. Not surprisingly, self-perception of attractiveness was much better in good quality sleepers.
This study shows, for the first time, that poor sleep quality can speed up signs of skin aging and weaken the skin's ability to repair itself.