Sleeping Beauty: Natural Steps for Skin Care

how good sleep improves skin health
sleep beauty skin health
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Ever wonder why after a late night you wake up with dark circles, puffiness, new breakouts, and dull and congested skin? Your first reaction might be to blame the few extra glasses of wine or the charcuterie board you indulged in. No problem—it was only a rare treat! But what if you knew the breakouts were from lack of quality sleep? Would you prioritize your sleep more than your currently do?

Let’s get out of the habit of solely blaming food for our skin breakouts—skin health is multifaceted. Nutrition, lifestyle, and skincare all have a role to play and not all of these elements are addressed equally. As a holistic skin coach and acne expert, I am all about food freedom and finding a balance that works for each person, and I know that lifestyle practices like sleep are just as important as what you eat when dealing with chronic acne.


Don’t be a servant to fancy skincare products that promise dewy perfection, and then leave your beauty sleep to fend for itself! Quality sleep is the real deal and the best part is that it’s free medicine!

Prime Time Repair

Sleep is key for skin health as it’s the time when the skin goes into a state of repair and regeneration. Studies have demonstrated that cell proliferation is thirty times higher at night that during the day, so when you don’t get enough sleep, cellular turnover comes to a halt, and you are left with dull, flaky, and congested skin. In addition, sleep deprivation compromises the skin barrier and hydration retention within the skin, leaving you more susceptible to irritation and breakouts.

We all have internal biological clocks that sync with our daily routines and the cycle of daylight and darkness. This rhythm also dictates the rise and fall of hormones that play a role in our skin health. If you’ve ever experienced jet lag, then you have first-hand experience with how important our internal clock is and the huge impact it can have on your body. The good news is that we have significant control over this rhythm and by improving sleep habits, we can boost skin quality and health.

Chronic sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on our hormones, especially stress and hunger hormones, which can show up on our skin in the form of acne. Disrupted and irregular sleep patterns throw the body into chaos and contribute to patterns of chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress and immune-regulating hormone that should peak in the morning when we first wake up and decrease as the day goes on, finally resting at its lowest point as we sleep. If our internal clock isn’t set correctly, irregular cortisol levels result, which can lead to adrenal imbalances and eventually adrenal fatigue. If you are someone who feels sluggish in the morning and find you have more energy at night, this may indicate your cortisol levels are off balance and your adrenals could benefit from some extra attention and love.

A Fine Balance

Our hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin, don’t get nearly enough attention for the important role they play in our everyday lives. Ghrelin lets us know when we are hungry, while leptin let us know when we are full. Sleep deprivation throws off the natural balance of these hormones. Have you ever noticed that you feel extra hungry after a late night or seem to crave high carb and sugary foods or can’t seem to feel satisfied even after eating more than you normally would? This is all linked to the imbalance of your hunger hormones that needs a good night’s rest to function optimally.

Chronic acne is complex, especially if you are still experiencing persistent acne into your twenties. Your sleep patterns are a great first step to uncovering why you’re still suffering from acne. Chronic sleep deprivation keeps your body in a state of stress and inflammation, a vicious cycle that needs to be broken in order to balance your hormones and clear your skin. Sleep helps to balance your blood sugar, reduce stress, regenerate your skin cells, and promote healing in the body.

Ease Into Your Evening

  • Circumvent caffeine in the late afternoon.
  • Buh-bye big meals and remember, it’s okay to go to bed hungry!
  • Shirk starlight stimulators like work, problem solving, emotional conversations, etc.
  • Banish blue light altogether or wear blue-blocking glasses while on your phone or computer.
  • Set up a sleep spot that’s in a cool, quiet, and dark room. Eye masks and/or ear plugs can be useful!
  • Know your number Your sleep number, that is! For most people it’s somewhere between six and nine hours a night. Once you find a time that works for you, commit to it!
  • Love your lymph by adding in some lymphatic drainage like gua sha facial massage or lying with your legs up the wall.
  • Be all ears and listen to binaural beats, yoga nidra, or meditation to help your mind unwind.

Sleepless in Somewhere-ville?

So you’ve had a late night or less than stellar quality sleep. All is not lost! Aim to wake up at your normal time so that one late night doesn’t snowball into two or three. Choose a nourishing breakfast that will boost your B vitamin and magnesium levels and don’t forget the importance of hydration! Adding a pinch of salt to your water can help boost electrolytes. And remember, it’s okay to take the day off of a high intensity workout, but make sure to still get some movement in with a gentle walk, yoga, or Pilates instead.

Daytime Habits for Better Sleep:

  • Commit to a morning routine that resets your internal clock. Try getting exposure to morning sunlight and fresh air within 30 minutes of waking. 
  • Move more daily.
  • Manage stress and find joy wherever you can.
  • Choose nourishing foods that balance blood sugar.
  • Support digestion and your body’s natural wind-down with herbal teas. Valerian or chamomile are great options!

What would clear skin mean to you? How would this change your confidence level? It’s time to get back to the basics: Sometimes the best things we can do to heal acne and boost skin health are the simplest. Think of sleep as your body’s way to reset and heal itself. Follow things that truly make you feel good. Lean into what allows you to show up in your life as your best self. That’s where the magic happens.

You may also enjoy: Skin Care Ingredients and Facial ProductsHow to Get Dewy Glowing Skin with K-BeautySleep Science: Why Sleeping is Important

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