Beauty sleep really is a ‘thing’.

We’ve heard the term beauty sleep bandied around for aeons, but did you know it’s more than just a cute term? In fact, it’s something we should take seriously because not only is it beneficial to our skin health it’s also key to weight loss and long-term brain health. There are also some powerful links to diabetes, mental health disorders, Alzheimer’s and cancer if we don’t get enough zzz’s.

So, when it comes to having a radiant, glowing complexion and vibrant health it’s not just about good nutrition and fabulous skincare, you also need to prioritise sleep.

I know for those of you with sleep issues that sounds like a tall order. If that’s you I totally empathise! I don’t usually have a problem with sleeping there have been times when it’s been elusive and the following day has been a disaster productivity-wise so I feel you.

The Sleepless Epidemic

Along with COVID-19, there’s a global poor-sleep epidemic going on that’s been termed ‘catastrophic’. Studies show 60 per cent of the population down under has sleep issues with some folk only managing 4-6 hours per night.

When the Phillips light company conducted their annual global survey in recognition of World Sleep Day (in March) they found that of the 13,000 people in 13 countries surveyed only half of them were satisfied with their sleep. The survey results are downloadable here.

Some Lady Stats

It seems women suffer from sleep disorders more than men, and ladies, that’s stressful especially as we head past 40.

Here are some stats from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the US from 2017:

  • sleep problems increase during perimenopause (late 30s to 40s) with more than half of women (56 per cent) sleeping less than seven hours per night.
  • nearly a quarter of these women reported having trouble falling asleep and 30 per cent had trouble staying asleep.
  • nearly 50 per cent awoke still feeling tired.

Why Sleep Improves Your Complexion

The eyes might be the ‘windows to the soul’ but it’s your skin that’s the ‘window to your wellbeing’ and it’s widely reported that sleep is rejuvenatory to our entire body and that includes the skin.

This study showed that a lack of sleep can cause facial changes including redder, swollen eyes, dark undereye circles (surprise!), paler skin, droopy corners of the mouth and more wrinkles/lines. It also reported that looking tired related to people’s perception of an individual’s attractiveness and trustworthiness.

While You’re Sleeping

1. Your skin works to repair itself from the effects of environmental stressors, inflammation and fatigue.


Image: Wikipedia

2. Natural growth hormone is secreted during the first few hours of sleep. If this process is interrupted it leads to a decrease in the thickness of the skin and a breakdown of collagen and elastin – the proteins responsible for skin plumpness and elasticity.

3. The hormone melatonin increases in response to darkness. Melatonin regulates our circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle). It’s also a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory with the ability to counteract oxidative stress, a key player in skin ageing, and it has UV protective and skin ‘youtherising’ (that’s my word 😊) properties.

4. As we move into deeper sleep our levels of cortisol – the stress hormone – decrease, our temperature reduces and muscles relax. If our sleep is disrupted cortisol rises and collagen production, skin barrier function and skin integrity is impaired.

5. A regular lack of sleep can make you look older. Some studies have shown a correlation between sleeping well, how fast we age and the health of our skin barrier.

6. Do you suffer from adult acne, psoriasis or eczema? These are all inflammatory skin conditions and getting good quality shut-eye can help. Studies have shown there are links between insomnia, fatigue and inflammatory skin conditions.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

As with most things to do with individual biochemistry our needs are unique but the general consensus is that seven to nine hours of sleep per night is optimum.

The body begins to secrete melatonin in response to darkness around 9 pm and – according to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda – the best time to go to bed is 9.30-10 pm because this is ‘Kapha’ time when the mind is slower and quality of sleep is better. The body is also believed to rejuvenate at a cellular level between 10 pm and 2 am.

How To Get More ZZZ’s

1. Eat your last meal at least three hours before bed then shut the kitchen. Resist snacking because our digestive processes can interfere with sleep patterns.

2. If you love your caffeine (and we get it!) press the off switch at 2 pm. This doesn’t just apply to coffee as green tea, chocolate and cola’s (but you don’t drink them do you?) may all contain caffeine.

3. Make no screentime at least one hour before bed a rule. That means no texting or emails. It’s hard when so often our phones are such a part of our lives but try and get into the habit of something non-light-reflective like journaling or reading instead.

4. Take an Epsom salts bath. This is truly one of the best relaxants and gives you a nice dose of ‘chillaxing’ magnesium as well. Epsom salts are technically magnesium sulfate and magnesium is a mineral that has natural relaxing properties.

5. Go to bed early. Becoming an early-to-bed person can make all the difference in how you look and feel.

Establish A Good Night Time Skin Care Routine


1. Always cleanse before bed

It’s so easy to use feeling tired at day’s end as an excuse for not cleansing your face pre-bed but removing makeup and the grit and grime of the day is essential prep for beauty sleep.

2. Add moisture and antioxidants

Look for a hydrating moisturiser that contains a nice cocktail of antioxidants because they help the skin to repair itself and compensate for ageing agressors like pollution and smoking. Gold standard hydrators are glycerin and hyaluronic acid and some of my favourite antioxidants are vitamin C, E, coenzyme Q10, glutathione, resveratrol, niacinimide, polyphenols and botanical flavanoids.

3. Consider retinol

A derivative of vitamin A, retinol is technically an antioxidant. I separate it out as it’s something I turn to time and time again as a proven ‘youtheriser’. (This is my term for making skin look more youthful as I don’t love the term anti-ageing!) Studies have shown that retinol boosts the production of collagen (plumping) and elastin (elasticity), increases the rate of cellular renewal and repair and diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The caveat is that there is a ‘family’ of retinoids and you need the appropriate form and the correct dosage for best results. When you begin to use retinol it’s important to start small and build up – too much may cause flaking – and it’s essential to use sunscreen daily. I’ve always found Dr Des Fernandes, the founder of Environ skincare a wealth of information on retinol. He’s covered four myths here.

In closing

If sleep is a major issue for you it will be affecting every area of your life and your life span. Following is a TED Talk by sleep scientist Matt Walker who shares the “wonderfully good things that happen when you get sleep — and the alarmingly bad things that happen when you don’t, for both your brain and body.” Matt calls sleep our life-support system and Mother Nature’s best effort yet at immortality and shares his tips for getting your zzz’s.

You will find a lovely certified sleep science coach – Ms Jane Wrigglesworth – who can help you 1-1 by clicking here. Jane and I will be doing a video interview discussing sleep and hormones in the next couple of weeks. 🙂

Hope that helps. Sweet dreams. 💤💤💤







Main picture by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels