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 that 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.

  • 1900, Ralph Connor, The Man From Glengarry, ch. 23:

“But eager as Kate was for her beauty sleep, the light burned late in her room.”

woman taking a beauty sleep in white panel

Apart from what dictionaries and websites say, is beauty sleep really a thing?

But is there any truth to this “belief”? Indeed, in recent years studies have shown that the idea of a 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. 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 hour of sleep per night. And again after a week where they only got 4 hours of shut-eye every night. These photos were then shown to people accompanied by the questions whether they found the person on the picture attractive? Whether they looked healthy? Whether one would like to socialise with the person on the picture and whether they could be trusted? The results of this Sleep experiment showed that the when the students got enough sleep they were deemed attractive and interesting, healthy and trustworthy. The opposite proved true for the same, yet sleep-depraved student.

Here are some ways in which enough sleep positively affect your appearance, and by proximity your social standing (see above):

1. Your skin looks younger and healthier

beauty cream on woman's hand

The stress hormone Cortisol finds its way into your skin and starts breaking down the skin cells. When you sleep, Cortisol levels decrease and your skin gets the opportunity to regenerate and mend itself. When you don’t sleep enough, this process gets interrupted and your skin ends up looking old, leaving you looking stressed.

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

The upside – if you do get enough sleep, cortisol is broken down. Collagen saved. Your body has time to produce enough human growth hormone, which in turn stimulates cell regeneration, which for its part help fix yesterday’s damage while you are sleeping. Leaving you looking radiant and young. ( states: “The concept of beauty sleep has been clinically proven, as demonstrated in a recent clinical trial commissioned by Estee Lauder. The clinical trial, which was held at the University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center, conclusively showed that inadequate sleep accelerates skin aging. The study involved 60 pre-menopausal women between the ages of 30 and 49, with half of them falling into the poor-quality sleep category. The study found significant differences between the good quality and poor-quality sleepers.

Sleep-deprived women who participated in the study showed signs of premature skin aging, including fine lines and wrinkles, uneven pigmentation, reduced elasticity, and sagging skin.”

So, you want beautiful skin? Here’s the thing – get enough sleep. Your skin will love it, and it’s free!

2. Your eyes are clearer and your eyesight better

close-up photo of the beauty in a persons eye

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

Studies have shown the your eyes need at least 5 hour of sleep to decently 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 to sleep-deprivation. Eye spasms are defined as involuntary eye twitches that occur when you have a spasm in your eyelid. Even though these eye spasm aren’t painful or detrimental to your eye sight, they are exceedingly irritating and can influence your overall mood and appearance negatively.  Avoid eye spasms by making sure you get an adequate amount of sleep per night.

Myokymia, however, isn’t the only side-effect of lack of sleep on the eyes. More harmful and bothersome side effects include popped blood vessels due to eye strain. Dry eye, a condition when tears do not adequately lubricate your eyes,can additional be caused by insufficient sleep. You can experience some pain, light sensitivity, itching, redness or even blurred vision when dry eye sets in.

An even more serious eye condition, such as glaucoma, can be caused by 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 each night gives your eyes the chance to rest, heal, and replenish so that they can stay healthy.

3. A healthy, rosy complexion

When you sleep, blood flow to the skin increases. To little sleep leaves you ashen faced – your skin looks dull and blotchy. Enough sleep, means enough blood to give you that healthy glow you need to look and feel great.

4. Shiny, fuller hair

woman standing on terrace beholding the beauty

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

When hair follicles stop growing prematurely Telogen Effluvium (temporary hair loss) sets in. Whilst 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, also brings nutrients to your hair roots. These nutrients are needed for hair growth as well as hair health. Sleep-depraved people have dull, brittle hair. Bottom line, get those 7 – 9 hours sleep for a free “Wella effect”.

5. You look happier

WebMB 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 again leads to premature wrinkling that makes you look old. Combine that with dark, puffy eyes and you look sad, sick and old. Get enough sleep and you will be a picture of good health and happiness.

Sleeping Beauty didn’t choose to sleep all those years, but boy it worked for her! You don’t have to sleep 100 years, but 7-9 hours will do wonders for your appearance and confidence.


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