Pretty tired: Is beauty sleep real?

“I better get to bed; I need my beauty sleep!” — there’s a very good chance that you’ve come across this old adage before, often said just before someone excuses themselves before bed. But, apart from being a tired line used by those looking for an early night, is there actually any truth to it? Is there actually a link between sleep and good looks?

While many sayings hold no truth whatsoever (here’s looking at you “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”), the concept of beauty sleep is rooted in fact. So, let’s take a closer look at just what beauty sleep is, how it can benefit you, and some tips for maximising its effect.

What is beauty sleep?

Beauty sleep is the theory that without an adequate amount of sleep, your face will look worse than it would after a healthy level of rest. People often point to the likes of puffy skin, wrinkles, dark circles around the eyes, and a worn-out complexion as the result of a lack of shut eye. In short, if you don’t get your sleep, you’re not going to look your best.

In actual fact, this thinking is right on the money. Your body needs sleep to repair itself — it’s why you feel more refreshed after waking up after a tiring day and why rest is vital when recovering from an illness. When you snooze, you’re repairing yourself on a cellular level, and that extends all the way from what’s going on inside to your exterior, so it makes sense that your face is affected.

Beauty sleep can also impact social interactions. A 2017 study found those that missed out on sleep were perceived to look “uglier” than usual after being shown before and after images. Strangers pointed out that the participants had dark-circled, puffy eyes, which made them less approachable and seem less healthy. Experts pointed to the fact that, as humans, we want partners who are fit and energetic, so it’s only natural to react more negatively to those that look tired when scrutinising the appearance of others.

What are the benefits of beauty sleep?

Now that we’ve established that beauty sleep is real and that it can impact your life, we can consider the benefits of getting enough of it in more detail:

  • Fewer wrinkles: When you rest, your body produces a protein called collagen, which is used to maintain the plumpness and elasticity of skin. With less production time during sleep, you will be more at risk of developing wrinkles.
  • Bigger, brighter eyes: If you stay up all night, your eyes are likely to appear puffy, smaller, and more squinty. This is because a lack of sleep can contribute to fluid retention around the eyes, an issue that is made worse if you’ve been drinking alcohol. Getting more sleep leaves your eyes bigger and brighter for the day ahead, avoiding those dreaded bags.
  • A glowing complexion: Resting at night allows blood flow to circulate better around the skin as it’s not directed towards our daily actions, such as moving around. This will ensure you have a fuller, glowing complexion in the morning, compared to a sleepless night, where your skin will look dull and lifeless.
  • Less eye circles: While eye circles become more visible with age and can depend on genetics, a lack of rest can cause blood to pool under your eyes and make bags more prominent. Improved blood flow through sleeping will ensure this doesn’t happen.
  • Healthier hair: When you skip sleep, your body won’t produce as many of the nutrients your hair needs to stay strong and healthy, making it more prone to damage and hair loss. And, a side-effect of sleep deprivation can be stress, which is a known cause of premature hair loss.

What can I do to maximise beauty sleep?

From getting the correct number of hours to sleeping in the right position, there are a few things you can do to ensure the benefits of your beauty sleep are maximised:

  • Make sure you get 7–9 hours of sleep: As recommended by the Sleep Council, aim to get 7–9 hours rest each and every night. This is the ideal amount of time your body needs to refresh itself to ensure you’re looking your best.
  • Sleep on your back: It’s thought that sleeping on your back avoids putting any pressure on the side or front of your face, which can contribute to wrinkles. Read our guide to the best mattress and pillows for back sleepers for more advice on doing this comfortably.
  • Wash and change your pillowcase regularly: By washing and changing your pillowcase on a weekly basis, you can make sure any pore-clogging dirt and bacteria is kept to a minimum. You can also try alternating the side you sleep on each night to cut build-up by half.
  • Drink water often (just not a lot before bed): Staying hydrated is very good for your skin, so aim to drink a healthy amount through the day. However, avoid drinking a lot in the hours before bed, as you’ll likely need to wake through the night for the toilet, which will disturb your sleep.
  • Invest in specialist anti-microbial pillows: It’s possible to invest in pillows with anti-microbial properties — such as our Evercomfy Silver and Aloe vera pillows — that reduce the level of bacteria present and also help to rejuvenate your skin through the night.

We hope this blog post has helped you to understand the reality behind beauty sleep. Be sure to get in touch if you have any questions. For more advice, be sure to check out this blog on a regular basis, as well as our advice centre.

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