Is there any truth to the idea of “Beauty Sleep”? Does enough sleep, or the lack thereof, indeed influence your appearance?

Cambridge online dictionary defines beauty sleep as follows:
Beauty Sleep: The sleep you need in order to feel and look healthy and attractive.

Wiktionary gives the following definition:
Noun: beauty sleep (usually uncountable, plural beauty sleeps) (idiomatic, uncountable)
Sleep before midnight, on the belief that early sleep hours conduce to health and beauty.

Is Beauty Sleep Really a Thing?

Is there any truth to this “belief”?
Indeed, in recent years studies have shown that the idea of beauty sleep is by no means far fetched. Quite literally, enough sleep can make you beautiful.

The more you sleep, the more you glow! While you are sleeping, your body repairs itself. If you don’t regularly get 7 to 9 hours of sleep you will not only feel tired but will look it too.

BBC.com reports of an experiment conducted by the Karolinska Institutet (T.S., K.S., J.A.) and Stockholm University (T.S., M.L.)  in which they took photographs of the same students – first after a week wherein the students got 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night. After a week they took another set of pictures where the students only got 4 hours of shut-eye every night.

These photos were then shown to people accompanied by some questions. A few examples are:

  • Is the person on the picture attractive?
  • Do they look healthy?
  • Would you like to socialise with the person on the picture?
  • Do you think the person on the picture could be trusted?

The results of this Sleep experiment showed that the students who got enough sleep were deemed attractive, interesting, healthy and trustworthy. Opposite descriptions proved to be true for the same, yet a sleep-deprived student.

Beauty Sleep

Here are some ways in which enough sleep positively affects your appearance:

1. Healthier and Younger Skin

The stress hormone cortisol finds its way into your skin and starts breaking down the skin cells. During sleep, cortisol levels decrease. Your skin regenerates by mending itself. When you don’t sleep enough, this process is interrupted leaving your skin looking old and stressed.

Furthermore, cortisol contributes to the breakdown of collagen. Collagen is a protein that helps to keep your skin firm, healthy and elastic. When collagen levels are low, your skin looks flabby and premature wrinkles start to form. The result, of course, is that you look older and sickly.

The contrary, however, is very beneficial for your beauty. During sleep, our body has time to produce enough human growth hormone which, in turn, stimulates cell regeneration. This leaves you looking radiant and young.

It’s a simple concept. Do you want beautiful skin? Simply get enough sleep. Your skin will love it, and it’s free!

2. Clear Eyes and Better Eyesight

It’s a known fact that lack of sleep leaves your eyes swollen, red and puffy with dark circles or bags under your eyes. A Swedish Study has shown that sleep-deprived people look sadder and more troubled than their well-rested counterparts. But did you know that too little sleep can damage your eye-sight?

Studies have shown that your eyes need at least 5 hours of sleep to sufficiently recover from the days’ stress and strain. If your eyes do not get enough time-out, their function will be inhibited.

Myokymia, or eye spasms, is a very common side-effect of sleep-deprivation. Eye spasms are defined as involuntary eye twitches that occur when you have a spasm in your eyelid. Even though these eye spasms aren’t painful or detrimental to your eyesight, they are exceedingly irritating and can influence your overall mood and appearance negatively. Avoid eye spasms by working in an adequate amount of sleep per night.

Myokymia, however, isn’t the only side-effect of lack of sleep on the eyes. Another harmful and bothersome side effect is popped blood vessels due to eye strain.

Dry eyes can also be caused by insufficient sleep. You can experience some pain, light sensitivity, itching, redness or even blurred vision when dry eyes set in.

An even more serious eye condition, such as glaucoma, can be caused by a severe lack of sleep. Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve and can result in vision loss and blindness. Sleeping enough every night gives your eyes the chance to rest, heal, and replenish to stay healthy and clear.

3. A healthy, Rosy Complexion

When you sleep, blood flow to the skin increases. Too little sleep leaves you ashen-faced – your skin looks dull and blotchy. Enough sleep allows enough blood to travel to the surface of the skin. Blood at the surface of your skin removes any toxins and breaks down impure particles. This gives you that healthy glow you need to look and feel great.

4. Shiny, fuller hair

Again we meet our friend cortisol, the stress hormone. As we have discussed a lack of sleep increases stress. This increase in stress increases cortisol which, in return, causes, amongst other things, hair loss.

When hair follicles stop growing prematurely, Telogen Effluvium (temporary hair loss) sets in. While this condition is usually only temporary ( lasting up to six months) it won’t be resolved until the cause of the stress, in this case, a lack of sleep, is addressed.

Furthermore, the same blood flow that causes your skin to look healthy, brings nutrients to your hair roots. These nutrients are esseential for growing long, healthy hair. Sleep-deprived people have dull, brittle hair. The bottom line is; get those 7 – 9 hours sleep for a free “Wella effect”.

5. You look happier

WebMD states that tiredness can cause the corners of your mouth to droop, making you look sadder than you really are. Tired people also tend to frown more often than well-rested people. Excessive frowning leads to premature wrinkling that’ll leave you looking old. Combine that with dark, puffy eyes and you look sad, sick and old.

On the other hand, if you get enough sleep, you will be the picture of good health and happiness. Sleeping Beauty didn’t choose to sleep all those years, but boy did it work for her! You don’t have to sleep 100 years, but 7-9 hours will do wonders for your appearance and confidence.