While some might think it’s just a catchy phrase, beauty sleep is a real thing, confirms Professor Ryan. “While you sleep, blood flow to the skin increases, damage from free radical production is repaired and collagen production increases, reducing wrinkles and age-related changes.” In other words, nighttime gives our skin the opportunity to recover from any daytime damage. But a lack of sleep can seriously affect the look of your skin. From dark circles to puffy eyes and less-than-vibrant skin when you’re tired, you look it. “Sleep deprivation affects collagen production, skin hydration and wound healing. It also increases levels of cortisol leading to inflammation of the skin and a deterioration in skin quality,” says Professor Ryan.
In a perfect world, we’d all be getting our required hours of sleep each night, but that’s rarely the case. Long-term sleep deprivation can be serious (affecting more than just your looks) and is something you should speak about with your doctor. But for those fluke nights of bad sleep (or none at all), there are ways to help restore and regenerate the skin. Before you go to bed, double cleanse to remove makeup, SPF residue, pollutants and oils which build up throughout the day,” recommends Professor Ryan. “Use a retinoid to increase collagen production, accelerate DNA repair, reduce fine lines and improve the skin’s texture. Then apply an antioxidant serum to counteract the effects of oxidative stress on the skin and neutralise damaging free radicals.” A hyaluronic acid serum or moisturiser can help, too. But as Professor Ryan explains, it’s not just about what you apply to your face before going to bed each night. “Always try to sleep on your back,” she says. “Sleeping on either side of your face accelerates volume loss and reduces drainage on that side of the face. Try to sleep with your head elevated on one to two pillows for improved drainage and to prevent puffy eyes.”