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Sleep and Your Skin

January 21, 2014


In my patient history form, I ask about sleep – how well do you sleep?  If you do not sleep well, why not?  I ask these questions partly because it gives me insight into who you are as a person, but also because I think lack of good quality sleep or not enough quantity sleep has a negative impact on overall health, including the health of the largest organ in the body, and my personal favorite organ, the SKIN!

Yes, it is true that different people need different amounts of sleep.  But the Harvard Public Health Nurses study showed that people who regularly got 6 hours or less a night were at higher risk of DEATH from all causes, including breast cancer, heart attack, and stroke.

Other findings:

-People who are sleep-deprived have elevated levels of substances in the blood that indicate a heightened state of inflammation in the body, which has also recently emerged as a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.

-Sleep deprivation quickly disrupts normal levels of the hormones ghrelin and leptin, which regulate appetite. A recent study of nearly 10,000 adults found that those between the ages of 32 and 49 who sleep less than seven hours a night are significantly more likely to be obese.

So……How does this all affect your skin??????

-most skin conditions are at least in part inflammatory, so I always tell patients to be the least inflammatory person they can be. Sleep, in addition to a healthful diet, exercise, and managing stress can all decrease inflammation in the body, including the skin

-a higher body-mass index is linked with worse psoriasis as well as worse acne.  If you are having a hard time losing weight, look at whether you are sleeping enough

– sleep loss also causes the body to release too little human growth hormone. When we’re young, human growth hormone promotes growth. As we age, it helps increase muscle mass, thicken skin, and strengthen bones.  It is during deep sleep that growth hormone is released

-when you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol. This leads to a whole inflammatory cascade, which can


There is so much fascinating research on the importance of sufficient quantity and good quality sleep on health – including the fields of cancer,  brain function, diabetes, and heart disease.  This blog entry was meant to remind people that sleep is NEVER a waste of time, that you need it,  to encourage you to read more about it, and to think about lack of sleep if you feel like your skin-health is sub-optimal.

Cybele Fishman, MD