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Yes, a lack of sleep may be causing you to break out!
Yes, a lack of sleep may be causing you to break out!

“Does a lack of sleep cause acne?” we hear you ask. Well, it certainly doesn’t help…


It must be called beauty sleep for a reason! Skin experts have questioned and researched for years how sleep can hinder or help acne and other skin conditions, as well as the role sleep plays in our skin’s overall health… Apparently, it’s a big one!

So today, why not take a look at why catching those Zzz’s might be a great way to help keep those blemish break outs at bay…

Does lack of sleep cause acne? Lack of sleep prevents repair…

Did you know that the skin is an organ? And without a balance of good diet, sleep and hydration, our organs suffer.

When we’re asleep our body repairs and rejuvenates parts that need it. It sends fluids to tissues, cells and organs that are lacking and pulls away fluids from other areas that have too much: essentially it rebalances and resets itself whilst you sleep, getting you ready for the next day.

So, if you skip out on sleep or don’t get enough of it, your body can’t fix what’s needed which can aggravate skin conditions like acne.

As well as firing up your spots, it can also result in bags under the eyes, dark circles and sagging in the skin.

To make matters worse, a lack of sleep can also speed up the ageing process. Yep, wrinkles are directly linked to sleep deprivation too… Nice.

Does lack of sleep cause acne? Lack of sleep causes stress…

… And vice versa, let’s be honest. If you’re stressed, you’re not going to sleep well and if you’re sleep deprived, you’re going to feel stressed and grumpy.

But stress can also have a devastating effect on your skin. Without sleep, cortisol levels spike in the body and cortisol is the stress hormone. As well as making you feel more short-tempered and less happy, stress causes inflammation, which can make skin feel irritable and cause break outs.

Stress causes the body to go into ‘fight or flight’ mode, meaning it’s pumped to fight off a potential attack or run away from one, because it perceives stress as a threat.

When you hit fight or flight mode, the body sends blood and oxygen to the vital organs only. Although the skin is classed as an organ, it’s not considered vital to survival so it isn’t prioritised. In addition to exasperating spots and blemishes, your skin can also lose colour and plumpness, making it look dull, puffy and lifeless.

Hit the hay the right way

So, if you’re an acne sufferer and you also know you don’t make sleep a priority, it may be wise to start upping your slumber time. The US National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours, so anywhere around that should be your goal.

But hey, it’s one thing to force yourself to bed earlier, but there’s no use if you’re not caring for your skin when you’re asleep too. You need a good skin regime and routine just before you lay down for the night, as well as for when you wake.

Make sure you’re deeply cleansing the skin and lightly moisturising before you hop into bed. Sleeping in make up should be an absolute no go, as this will clog the pores and prevent the skin from being able to breathe as you sleep. It will also dirty your pillow case!

When it comes to moisturiser make sure you’re opting for a sensitive/hypoallergenic one if you’re acne prone, as these are less likely to be perfumed which can cause further irritation.

It also may be high time to promote your bedding! Your pillowcase can actually work a bit like a sponge. Anything on your face can be absorbed by it: oils, dirt, make up, serum, sweat etc. This build up of bacteria on your pillow can’t be good news for your skin (or hair for that matter!)

The fix? Switch up your pillowcase material from cotton to silk. Silk is a natural fibre and less porous, thus less likely to clog up your pores because it doesn’t absorb dirt like cotton does. It also lessens friction between your skin and your pillow reducing the risk of irritation.

You should also launder your pillowcase every 2-3 days to keep it fresh and clean, even if you’re sleeping on silk. Try to use a fragrance free, PH balanced detergent and steer away from fabric softener for your pillowcases too. These are all just additional chemicals that can annoy the skin whilst you sleep.

Final thoughts on sleep vs acne...

If stress and anxiety is preventing you from sleeping and wreaking havoc on your skin, it may be time to work on your self care. This could be through exercise, yoga or meditation or as simple as making time to have a bath and reading a book!

Reducing the cortisol levels in your system is only going to serve your entire wellbeing, including your skin’s health, and help you sleep better. Read our blog about the amazing ways meditation can support you here.

Happy sheep counting!


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