Six Amazing Reasons to Get Your Beauty Sleep

by Sharecare's Olivia DeLong

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Almost everyone is familiar with the term “beauty sleep,” but what does it really mean? Turns out, it can mean a lot when it comes to your overall health—and not just for women. When people take care of themselves and sleep well, they tend to be happier, younger looking and more alert, says pulmonologist and sleep specialist Dawn Stanley Cohen, MD of Sky Ridge Medical Center.

“When you’re not sleeping, you’re crabby and have frown lines; you don’t have a glow,” says Dr. Cohen. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, but more important than the number, is getting enough sleep to feel rested and restored when you wake up.

Here are six reasons why we call a good night of rest, “beauty sleep.”

1. Sleep reduces swelling and inflammation.
You’re not just imagining that under eye puffiness after a restless night. If you’re skimping on sleep, you may notice increased inflammation and excess fluid, called edema, in your body, and even some swelling. “When you get enough rest, your body has time to decrease inflammation and get rid of all the excess water that we carry under our eyes and in our legs,” Cohen says.

Lack of sleep can also cause your body to produce more of the stress hormone cortisol. "Increased cortisol levels lead to more inflammation, too," Cohen adds.

Those with underlying skin conditions like acne, psoriasis or eczema should be especially mindful of their sleep habits since inadequate sleep may make their inflammation and irritation worse.

2. Catching more ZZZs slows down the aging process.
Sleep allows your skin to repair itself. “Collagen is produced during sleep, and collagen is what prevents us from getting wrinkles. If we're not getting proper sleep, then we're going to have increased wrinkles and age more quickly,” says Cohen. When you’re sleeping, collagen, the fibrous protein that gives structure to the skin, helps new skin cells grow and assists in getting rid of the dead ones. Collagen also helps hold your skin together, and prevents sagging and wrinkles.

3. Adequate sleep lowers anxiety levels and boosts your mood.
Poor sleep leads to anxiety in both women and men, says Cohen. A study from the Journal of Neuroscience reports that when you’re sleep deprived, you’re increasing your risk for “anticipatory anxiety,” anxiety you may feel before a big test, meeting or presentation.

The study also found that people who are naturally anxious and worry a lot, may worry even more if they don’t get enough sleep. “We know that if we can get patients who suffer from anxiety or depression to sleep well, it’s easier to control those disorders,” says Cohen.

It’s no surprise that people who don’t sleep may be crabbier, too. “If you've ever pulled an all-nighter, you probably noticed you’re a little short tempered the next day,” says Cohen. When you lose sleep, you may appear more upset or angry in response to certain events because you’re irritable and less patient. 

4. Hitting the hay increases fat burn.  
The rumors are true: when you’re in slow wave sleep, or a deep sleep, your body is burning fat. Those who sleep less than five hours a night are almost a third more likely to gain weight than those who get seven or more hours of sleep each night.

When you’re tired, your body produces more ghrelin, a hormone that makes you hungry, and decreases its production of leptin, a hormone that signals satisfaction.

“When you’re tired during the day, you’re going to snack more which leads to excessive calories and more food consumption overall,” says Cohen. 

5. A successful night of sleep will boost your memory.
Adequate sleep may consolidate your memory. “When you’re sleeping, your brain has time to sort things out. People who don’t sleep well have a very difficult time with memory and concentration,” says Cohen. A good night’s sleep allows the brain to solidify memories and strengthen the connection between brain cells. That way, information can shift from one area of the brain to another.

6. It promotes good behavior and lessens bad habits.
When you’re sleep deprived, there’s a higher chance you’ll regress to bad habits. “When we’re tired, we do things to try and keep us up like snacking or smoking,” says Cohen.

And tired adolescents can especially pick up poor routines without a good night’s sleep. “Some studies in adolescents report that kids who aren't getting good quality sleep are more likely to use drugs or alcohol,” says Cohen. Kids in high school and college may see poorer grades and behavioral problems secondary to attention and memory deficits from sleep deprivation.

Here are 7 ways to get a good night’s rest:
Cohen says it’s impossible to catch up on beauty rest, but it’s important to get back on track as soon as you can. “To establish a regular bedtime and wake time, you have to make sleep a priority,” she adds. Here are some ways you can:

  • Stop all caffeine consumption at least six hours before bed   
  • Avoid large meals at night  
  • Move your workouts to the mornings
  • Stay hydrated throughout the day
  • Stick to a wake and sleep schedule, even on the weekends
  • Keep your bedroom cool (between 60 and 70 degrees is best)
  • Try these additional tricks to fall asleep even faster

If you’re having trouble falling asleep, or feel like you aren’t getting enough sleep, visit Sky Ridge Medical Center's Sleep Disorders Center or find a sleep medicine specialist