In 2017, Dr. Krutmann and his colleagues defined the concept of “skin aging exposome” as the external and internal factors, and their interactions, affecting a human individual from conception to death, which lead to the biological and clinical signs of skin aging. This includes external factors such as sun exposure, tobacco, pollution, and nutrition. Also, stress and lack of sleep were identified as exacerbating factors.
Stress is on the rise worldwide and has become a part of our daily lives. At times, it serves a useful purpose, however, if it is prolonged and not readily controlled, it can induce anxiety and tension, affecting our sleep. Both stress and lack of sleep have important effects on health and well-being.
The impact of sleep deprivation is now recognized to be associated with an increased risk for many chronic diseases. Long-lasting stress negatively affects many of the organs in the body and of course, our skin was not going to be an exception. Several studies, in recent years, have proven how chronic stress and lack of sleep have biological repercussions that can impact on the skin, worsening some skin problems and notably accelerating skin aging.
There are many consequences of sleep deprivation. The most apparent and obvious are the short-term consequences such as swollen, sunken eyes; dark circles around the eyes; and pale skin. However, long-term sleep deprivation affects wound healing, collagen growth, skin hydration, and skin texture. Inflammation is also higher in stressed and sleep-deprived patients, causing outbreaks of acne, eczema, psoriasis, and skin allergies.
In terms of skin aging, a recent study demonstrated the correlation of sleep deprivation and the more visible signs of skin aging. The study involved 60 women between ages 30 and 49, with half of the participants falling into the poor-quality sleep category (less than 5 h). Significant differences were observed between good and poor-quality sleepers. Those who had insufficient sleep showed increased signs of intrinsic skin aging including fine lines, uneven pigmentation, skin slackening and reduced elasticity, with an average score of 4.4 – doubling the average score observed in good sleepers. Additionally, poor quality sleepers also had a slower recovery after skin barrier disruption from environmental stressors such as the sun’s rays and everyday pollution.
Although there are some clinical evidence that stress and lack of sleep affect skin integrity and accelerates skin aging, the underlying mechanisms have not yet been clearly defined. Some scientists attribute this to the release of excess cortisol triggered by sleep debt and stress. High levels of cortisol have been proven to cause skin thinning and exacerbate skin conditions such as eczema, acne, and rosacea, among others. Furthermore, cortisol activates tyrosinase in melanocytes, resulting in the augmentation of ultraviolet-induced pigmentation.
In order to maintain a healthy, youthful-looking skin, experts recommend to sleep 7-8 hours each night. Managing stress is something best attacked from multiple angles, for example, through exercise and diet. However, in today´s hectic, stressed-out world, this is a difficult task to do for many people. In this case, supplements can help reduce stress and improve sleep quality and quantity, thereby recovering skin health and beauty. Adaptogen herbs such as Ashwagandha, Eleuthero Rhodiola or Ginseng can improve general indices of stress and mood disturbances, helping the body adapt to stress. Also, relaxing herbs extracts such as Chamomile, Melissa, Lemon balm or Passiflora have been studied for their potential ability to decrease anxiety and prolong sleeping time, both of which would result in a dramatic reduction in overall cortisol exposure.
In conclusion, how we cope with stress can have a significant impact on our skin. In this sense, supplementation is becoming a popular method to help relieve stress and improve sleep quality. We recommend an inside-out approach to a healthy skin: taking care of yourself on the inside in order to improve the outside
Nuria Caturla, Ph.D
New Product Development Manager
- Krutmann J, Bouloc A, Sore G et al. The skin aging exposome. J Dermatol Sci. 2017.
- Oyetakin-White P, Koo B, Matsui M, et al. In Effects of Sleep Quality on Skin Aging and Function, J. Invest. Dermatol. 2013.
- Van Drielen K, et al. Disentangling the effects of circulating IGF-1, glucose, and cortisol on features of perceived age. Age (Dordr). 2015.