The Beauty Benefits of Sleep: How Sleep Helps You Look Your Best

Medically reviewed by
 Dr. Nayantara Santhi

Dr. Nayantara Santhi

Dr. Nayantara Santhi holds an academic position at Northumbria University. After completing her Ph.D. at Northeastern University (Boston, MA), she joined the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School as a post-doctoral fellow to research how sleep and circadian rhythmicity influence our cognitive functioning.

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Last Updated On October 19th, 2023
The Beauty Benefits of Sleep: How Sleep Helps You Look Your Best

Key Takeaways

  • Skin Regeneration During Sleep: During sleep, the body generates growth hormones, facilitating the repair and renewal of skin cells. Blood flow to the skin improves, aiding in collagen rebuilding and UV damage repair. Adequate sleep helps in maintaining skin health and preventing premature aging.
  • Nighttime Skin Dynamics: Sleep influences skin temperature, cortisol levels, and the renewal process of skin cells. Maintaining a slightly warm and hydrated environment while sleeping promotes skin regeneration. Furthermore, reduced stress hormones and enhanced cell renewal contribute to healthier, rejuvenated skin.
  • Sleep Hygiene and Skincare Routine: Adopting good sleep hygiene practices, such as getting sufficient sleep, cleansing the face before bedtime, using a nighttime moisturizer, and sleeping in a position that minimizes skin compression, can significantly benefit skin health. Consistent skincare routines, along with a comfortable mattress and pillow, contribute to overall skin rejuvenation and a healthier appearance.

Getting your “beauty sleep” may sound like an old cliche, but there is some truth to it. Beauty sleep is a real thing, and it relates to how our skin and body restore themselves after a long day.

Our bodies go into recuperation mode when we fall asleep and create growth hormones. These growth hormones stimulate the formation of new cells, which aid in the healing of our skin from any injury sustained during the day.

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“Circadian rhythms affect all aspects of physiology and behavior,” says Dr. Nayantara Santhi. “Research evidence suggests that many attributes of human skin, too, follow a circadian periodicity. Some of these aspects include hydration and transepidermal water loss (TEWL), capillary blood flow, and even sebum production.”

However, the benefits of beauty sleep extend beyond your skin. Continue reading to discover more about beauty sleep, the expense of a poor night’s sleep, and the numerous benefits of catching up on your beauty sleep.

How Does Sleep Affect Your Skin?

You can almost instantly notice that a bad night’s sleep doesn’t favor your face when you wake up. According to some older 2013 research, Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source  one night of poor sleep can cause:

  • Eyelids that droop
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Paler skin with more wrinkles and fine lines.
  • Drooping mouth corners

While these may appear to be minor problems, sleep deprivation might turn into something more serious.

To begin with, you should realize that the seven to nine hours of sleep most adults need is when your body restores itself. This applies to your epidermis just as much as it does to your brain or muscles.

Your skin’s blood flow improves when you sleep. The organ rebuilds collagen and repairs UV damage, minimizing wrinkles and age spots.

Sleep is when your face is inevitably in contact with the elements directly surrounding it for an extended period, especially if you obtain the required seven-nine hours of sleep every night.

What Happens to Your Skin During Sleep?

1. Your skin’s temperature fluctuates

When we sleep, our skin warms up and becomes slightly dry. That is why physicians prescribe a thicker lotion for the night, especially in colder temperatures. However, if you have oily skin, you should avoid using heavy creams because they might worsen acne.

2. Calms the mind to prevent stress hormones

Cortisol levels, the hormone generated during stressful situations, Verified Source Medline Plus Online resource offered by the National Library of Medicine and part of the National Institutes of Health. View source decrease while you sleep. This minimizes the likelihood of inflammation, which can contribute healthy blood flow. A good night’s sleep will also help to reduce puffiness around the eyes and fewer wrinkles. As a result, a good night’s sleep relaxes the skin and allows you to wake up rejuvenated.

3. Skin Cells Renew Themselves

The process of skin cell mitosis occurs at its height between 11 pm and midnight. Cell mitosis Verified Source Medline Plus Online resource offered by the National Library of Medicine and part of the National Institutes of Health. View source is the division of cells that happens in order to renew and repair skin, whether you are awake or asleep cells renew in the middle of the night, but the body repairs itself more effectively while asleep.

4. Your skin may lose moisture

The body loses water when sleeping because all of the activities and bodily functions slow down. This is epidermal water loss. As a result, you must replenish this loss with a moisturizer that will keep your skin moisturized throughout the night.

5. Your anti-aging cream will work better

When your skin renews while you sleep, the anti-aging treatments you use can penetrate deeply into the skin with more beauty sleep. Most contain retinol, which is less effective throughout the day since the sun can degrade the chemicals and irritate your skin.

6. Your skin is protected from environmental damage

When you sleep, there is little change in the areas temperature (unlike when you enter an air-conditioned exit room), no cigarette smoke or pollution, and no makeup on your skin, which can cause skin damage. A good night’s sleep with the correct products applied allows your skin to recuperate from these environmental impacts.

How Does Beauty Sleep Work?

During the day, your skin is subjected to a range of assaults, including ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, which break the DNA in skin cells, causing accelerated aging and, in some cases, skin cancer. Air pollution has also been related to visible indicators of aging, such as skin tone pigmentation and wrinkles. Other environmental factors that influence the skin include smoking and chemical exposure.

Various processes occur during or during sleep, allowing your skin to repair itself, among other benefits of sleep.

Production of growth hormones

Shortly after you fall asleep, your body starts secreting somatotropin, also known as human growth hormone (HGH), which is essential for skin development, maintenance, and repair. Notably, HGH is vital for collagen formation, a protein in the skin that gives it a plump and young appearance.

Enhanced blood flow

Sleep increases blood flow to the skin, making it appear healthier and flushed. You may seem pale when blood flow is impeded due to a lack of sleep. Furthermore, blood might pool under the eyes, resulting in dark circles. Fluid accumulation on the eyelids and orbits (eye sockets) can cause puffy eyes.

Cortisol production reduced

A good night’s sleep helps control cortisol, the “stress hormone,” during the day. In contrast, a lack of sleep may lead your body to create more cortisol. Too much cortisol may negatively impact your skin’s look, including acne outbreaks, dryness, and collagen breakdown.

How to Make the Most of Your Beauty Sleep

1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Getting enough sleep each night is the greatest place to start for your skin — and general health.

Poor sleep can cause your skin to age prematurely and results in skin that does not heal as effectively from environmental stresses, such as sun exposure.

You may have an odd day now and again, but you should average seven to nine hours of sleep. A wearable fitness tracker may also be used to track your sleep.

2. Before Going to Bed, Wash Your Face

Sleeping helps your skin heal by increasing blood flow, rebuilding collagen, and relaxing the muscles in your face after a long day.

However, going to bed with a filthy face might affect the look of your skin.

Cleaning your face at night is possibly more essential than cleaning it in the morning – you don’t need to use expensive products or scrub too hard. A moderate cleanser that removes grime, makeup, and excess oil will suffice.

3. Use a Nighttime Moisturizer

Washing your face may dehydrate it, as can sleeping, especially if you sleep in a low-humidity area. While drinking water might help keep your skin moisturized, what your skin truly needs at night is a topical moisturizer.

Again, you don’t need the most expensive item on the market. You need a heavier cream or oil to soothe your skin while you sleep. Another approach is to apply your daily moisturizer and then spread petroleum jelly on top with clean hands to seal in the moisture.

4. Use a Quality Pillowcase or Sleep on Your Back

The posture of your face when sleeping (for one-third of the day!) affects your skin.

Sleeping on a rough surface can irritate skin and cause wrinkles by compressing your face for lengthy periods. While our waking expressions form most wrinkles, wrinkles on the face may be caused by sleeping on our stomachs or sides.

We also suggest using a proper pillowcase, not bed shams. Pillow shams are designed for decoration, not comfortable sleep. See our guide to pillowcases vs pillow shams for a thorough comparison,


How does sleep affect appearance?

Sleep-deprived people are observed to have more drooping eyelids, redder eyes, puffy eyes, and deeper bags beneath the eyes. Sleep deprivation is also linked to a paler complexion, wrinkles or fine lines, and sagging mouth corners. Meanwhile, a good night’s rest can help you look hale and healthy during the day.

How can I take care of my face at night?

Aside from wiping away the day’s filth and avoiding new breakouts, a nightly skincare regimen may also help repair the damage done throughout the day. The skin heals and restores itself during the night.

As a result, consider going a step further and treating your skin with specific treatments. You can help the healing process by feeding it key active ingredients and allowing the skin to absorb helpful and renewing elements when they are most effective.

Can I wash my face with just water before bed?

Whether you use makeup regularly or suffer from acne, it is essential to cleanse your face before going to bed. Washing your face helps in clearing pores. When you remove makeup, your pores open up, allowing your skin to breathe for the first time.

Water is a gentle cleanser that is unlikely to strip away too much of the skin’s natural oils, leaving the skin’s protective barrier intact. Try not to over rub the skin, either, as that can cause irritation.

Why do we look different after sleep?

Dermal fluid travels toward your legs throughout the day when you’re upright. However, this fluid settles back overnight when your body is horizontal during sleep. Like pumping up an air mattress or waterbed, this swelling expands up your facial skin, decreasing the look of wrinkles.

What is the best position to sleep in to avoid wrinkles?

The supine posture, or back sleeping, is the finest all-around sleep position for preserving youthful skin. It not only prevents wrinkles by removing wrinkle-causing friction but also prevents your skin from feeling the pressure of your face “folding” into the pillow. Side sleeping can affect one half of your face, while stomach sleeping places the most pressure on your face.


A good night’s sleep has various scientifically proven advantages, ranging from better skin to a happier attitude. Don’t worry if you’re among the numerous people suffering from insomnia or sleep anxiety. Try adopting some of the above ideas into your day and evening routine to practice better sleep hygiene and catch up on your beauty rest.

Remember that a comfortable mattress with soft bedding goes a long way toward having a good night’s sleep. Combine it with a comfortable pillow, and you’ll be off to sleep in no time.

About the author

Stacy Liman is a journalism graduate student and a freelance writer with a focus on mindfulness and content marketing. Her passion for understanding and writing about the science of sleep enables her to provide valuable insights into achieving healthier and deeper rest. Stacy's commitment to helping people improve their sleep drives her exploration of new mattresses and sleep-promoting gadgets.

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