top of page
  • Hartley


Updated: May 5

blonde woman in bed covering her eyes
via Pinterest

A recent deep dive into research on sleep deprivation gave me some hard-to-stomach facts: lack of sleep is a top cause of premature aging.

Faaaaaantastic news as an insomniac 🥂

Food for thought: the average American woman spends $1000 a year on beauty treatments. With all the money we fork over for creams and spa treatments, do we give enough thought to the anti-aging power of sleep?

Ikea ran a clever ad last year that underlined the connection between shut-eye and wrinkles: a cosmetic jar overflowing with bed sheets and a label that read "Sleep, the most natural anti-aging remedy."

It’s a bit funny isn’t it? The things that actually fight the aging process can’t be bottled up and sold by the beauty industry, so we don’t hear much about it.

Sleep is when some of the most important internal and epidermal recovery takes place. During your ZZZ’s, your skin's blood flow increases, it rebuilds its collagen and repairs damage from UV exposure.

So let’s get into the research and what you can do to stay looking oh-so-refreshed.

How does lack of sleep affect your skin in the first 24 hours?

I don’t need to tell you about the humbling bathroom mirror moment after a night of poor sleep. You can tell almost immediately that sleep deprivation doesn’t do wonders for your face

Just one night of poor sleep can age an older adults’ cells faster, according to UCLA , and a 2013 research study shows that even one night of poor sleep can cause:

hanging or swollen lids

dark circles and wrinkles around the eyes

pale and/or dry skin

sagging in the corners of the mouth

tense lips

an overall look of sadness :(

a jar with the words "Sleep: the most natural anti-ageing remedy" on a blue background

It turns out that even one day of deprivation affects elasticity, wrinkles and hydration. As well, it prolongs the time it takes to heal acne.

And it’s not just in our heads that we look like death warmed over: a 2017 study found that two days of sleep restriction negatively affected participants’ perceived attractiveness, health, and trustworthiness.

What are the long-term effects of not getting enough sleep?

Intrinsic aging is determined by our own individual genetic clocks and it is affected by the free radicals and the body's ability, or inability, to perfectly repair damage.

Poor quality sleep puts more stress on the body: this is what likely makes it harder to recover from everyday wear and tear.

This study indicates that chronic poor sleep quality is associated with increased signs of intrinsic aging, diminished skin barrier function and lower satisfaction with appearance.

This shows up as:

skin that ages faster

skin that doesn’t recover as well from environmental stressors like sun exposure

less satisfaction with your skin quality

So how many hours a night should you be sleeping?

As usual, women get the short end of the stick throughout our lifetimes:

half of adult women report sleep disturbances during their menstrual periods

three-quarters of expectant mothers report that sleep is more disturbed during pregnancy

many experience disrupted sleep during menopause, in part due to nighttime "hot flashes"

...add in the fact that it can get harder to fall asleep and stay asleep as you get older!

Here’s a rough guideline:

Adults younger than 65 years should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Fewer than 6 hours of sleep a night is considered insufficient.

For adults older than 65 years, you should aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Anything less than 5 hours of sleep per night isn’t enough.

How to get a better night’s sleep?

Our society is living through an epidemic of lack of quality sleep. I started this blog with a mission: to make sleep cool again.

It begins with a mindset shift: actually prioritizing our ZZZ’s and making space for a nightly wind-down.

And if you’re like me, with serious sleep issues, it's going to be a journey: working to discover your unique reasons for tossing and turning, and what you need to get quality shut-eye.

A sleep hygiene checklist is a great start. This includes things like fixed wake up times, avoiding alcohol before bed, disengaging from electronics at night and improving your sleep environment.

The bottom line

If you’re serious about slowing the aging process, you have to get serious about improving your sleep.

Are you better off investing in black out blinds than La Mer? There is a strong case to be made.

This article only discussed the impact of sleep on our skin, but rest assured, this issue is more than skin deep. Our mental health and ability to fight disease is all tied to the quality of our rest.

However: now that my vanity is at stake, there’s more fuel to my mission to get control over my insomnia.

So tell me, what are your tricks for looking and feeling more awake on the days when you haven’t slept?

Psst. Waking up tired and puffy? Make my two-ingredient caffeine eye serum to 'perk up' your peepers.


bottom of page