Sunday, June 22, 2014

How Sleep (or Lack of) Can Affect Appearance

Carol Ash, M.D.
Director of Sleep Medicine
Meridian Health, Riverview Medical Center

Sleeping Beauty had it right, as studies show lack of sleep can have an effect on our appearance in many ways.

Lack of sleep can stress many organ systems including skin, which is the largest organ in the human body. Sleep is important for maintaining the structure and integrity of collagen, which is your skin's main component and important for protection and elasticity.  Collagen formation can be affected by changes in the immune response.

Studies show sleep plays a role in restoring the immune system. Changes in immune response can injure blood vessels vital to the health of your skin.

Sleep deprivation causes oxidative stress, which is a known cause of accelerated aging. Sleep deprivation can cause breaks in the protective function of the skin barrier and mucous membranes. The end result is accelerated aging of your skin and wrinkles.

Your skin can also be affected by sleeping positions. The supine position is believed to be best, as it offset the effects of gravity. Positions that put continuous pressure on thinner facial skin can compromise blood flow and pull on delicate facial tissue aging your skin.

The best sleep position is on your back, as it also provides the best positioning for spine alignment and minimizing muscle aches and pains.

Side sleeping would be best for those with nasal congestion and allergies, or even simple snoring. The side position will help to keep your airway open and your sleep will be more restful.

Most people never think about the detergent in their sleepwear, but any material that touches your skin can cause harm. Ionic detergents are particularly harsh and are widely found in many body-care products and household detergents.

The most common ionic detergents are sodium lauryl sulfate, (SLS). The good news is there are several “green detergents” on the market that are SLS free.

Eye masks can be  an essential for healthy sleep.  For some, even a small amount of light can block the melatonin response and cause sleep onset difficulty.

Facial creams and lotions are a great way to add moisture. Those formulas with antioxidants and anti-wrinkle agents such as retinol have been shown to boost the overnight repair function of sleep. Once again, avoid detergents, shampoos and other cleansers with SLS.

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