Does Lack of Sleep Cause Acne?

If you stick to a consistent skincare routine but don’t get enough sleep every night, you may be undermining all your other efforts. This is because sleep is crucial to achieving that stunning, acne-free skin. In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about how sleep deprivation can take a heavy toll on your skin. 

Let’s begin.

How Sleep Deprivation Can Cause Acne?

By affecting the immune system

Sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system. As it is known, your immune system assists your skin in protecting against microbes, germs, and infections. Acne develops when your follicles are blocked. This results in sebum, dead skin cells, and tiny hair strands, forming a plug. 

What then happens to these plugs? Bacteria can infect these plugs, which could then trigger breakouts. But if you get more sleep, you can minimize your chances of getting infected. Getting enough sleep can boost your body’s defence mechanism and enable your skin to handle infections. 

By increasing hormone levels

If it seems as though you get more breakouts when you’re very stressed, this is no coincidence. While stress doesn’t directly cause acne, it can trigger hormonal changes that may exacerbate acne in people already prone to pimples. 

Your body has a primary stress hormone called cortisol. When you can get sufficient sleep at night, your cortisol level calms down. Quality sleep can promote a good mood, helping your muscles and your mind relax throughout the day. 

Nevertheless, when you cannot get a full night’s rest, you indeed run the risk of increasing your cortisol levels. When your body has too much cortisol, your sebaceous glands tend to produce more sebum. Overproduction of sebum can result in a buildup that will eventually block your follicles and pores. 

By causing unhealthy food cravings

A lack of sleep can cause increased hunger. You may notice that when you are sleep deprived, you tend to crave snacks and sweet cravings. An absolute explanation is that your hunger-control hormone, Ghrelin, shifts when you lack sleep. This, in turn, causes you to eat more foods that spike up your energy level. Unfortunately, though, these foods are a significant contributor to acne breakouts. 

So if you’re thinking of skipping sleep to finish that novel, think again. It’s not only your cognitive function that suffers when you are sleep-deprived, but your skin suffers greatly as well. If you continue to skimp on sleep, you’ll get more unhealthy food cravings, more acne breakouts, and more health problems. A good solution is getting enough sleep at night, so your body and skin will thank you in the morning.

By increasing the risk of being depressed

You may not know this, but lack of sleep causes acne by increasing your anxiety and depression. In addition, these mental health conditions can weaken your skin’s barrier function after triggering inflammatory responses. 

Your skin works extremely hard to stop pollen, smoke, and dust from entering your body. Furthermore, your skin protects you from sun damage. But when these barrier functions get affected, your skin becomes susceptible to infections. 

If you don’t want to weaken your skin’s barrier functions, regulate your depression and anxiety levels by getting enough sleep every night.

How To Sleep Better For A Healthier, Acne-Free Skin?

Stick to a sleep/wake schedule

One excellent way to sleep better and achieve acne-free skin is to sleep at the same time every day. The purpose of this is to reinforce the sleep-wake cycle of your body. Experts recommend going to bed 7-9 hours before the time you’re expected to wake up. If you don’t fall asleep within 30 minutes of lying in bed, do something that relaxes your body or makes you tired. Repeat as necessary.

At the same time, follow a consistent wake time. Wake up at the same time, even on weekends. This is again to reinforce the sleep-wake cycle of your body. If you follow a fixed wake time, you’ll sleep better at night. Waking up at the same time every day helps develop a solid drive for sleep throughout wakefulness. And if you sleep in on Saturdays and Sundays, it will be much more challenging to wake up earlier on weekdays. 

Skip the alcohol and caffeine before bed

Alcohol indeed helps you fall asleep, but just because it helps bring on sleep doesn’t mean you should drink it before bed. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol can interfere with normal sleep. That being the case, you are at greater risk of waking up at midnight and feeling sleep-deprived in the morning. 

Caffeine isn’t different from alcohol when it comes to sleep. It can also interfere with sleep when consumed before bed or late in the afternoon. If you’re a big fan of coffee, we regret to tell you that it takes hours for caffeine’s stimulatory effects to wear off, thus disturbing your sleep. 

Ditch your devices an hour before bedtime

If you want to sleep deeply, put away your tablets, phones, computers, and televisions at least an hour before you go to bed. The blue light emitted by your screen can impede melatonin production. If you’re not aware, this hormone controls your sleep-wake cycle. If you use screens right before bed, you’re simply making it difficult for your body to feel sleepy. 

While it’s normal to have thoughts that keep you up at night, this doesn’t mean you should reach for that digital gadget and wait for your eyes to get sleepy and tired. Your tablet, phone, etc., is too stimulating if you’re trying to get to sleep. How can you possibly sleep like a log after watching a few episodes of your favourite show or seeing what your friends are up to without you on Instagram?

So, if you can’t fall asleep because your mind is racing, the technique is to not lie awake in bed. Do not turn on your digital gadget. Instead, get up from the bed and engage in a relaxing activity- e.g. take a hot bath, listen to music, meditate, read, write, and visualize. Then, when you start to feel sleepy, try to go back to bed.

If you’re often tempted to scroll through your digital gadget when you can’t fall asleep, the trick is to store your device away from your bed. 

And if you really must use your gadget an hour before bed for some reason, take advantage of your device’s night setting. This dims the screen and reduces blue light. You may also use blue blocker glasses which filter out blue light. 

Make your room an ideal sleeping environment

An ideal sleeping environment should be quiet, cool, and dark. As discussed, exposure to blue light or any light makes it difficult for your body to feel sleepy. Therefore, we recommend using dark curtains or blinds for your windows. Sleeping with light curtains and with the windows blind up can keep you feeling active even when you shouldn’t.

The Takeaway

Lack of sleep can hinder acne-free skin. While you may think beauty sleep is just a catchphrase, it actually helps your skin perform the nightly maintenance work. So when you catch up on your beauty rest, your skin can repair at a faster rate. 

It’s easier to wake up stress-free with fewer breakouts when you’re not short on sleep. Besides, it’s easier to save money because beauty sleep, as a treatment, is free!