There is a strong correlation to sleep quality and skin quality. Dr Natalie Blakely was asked by Professional Beauty to share her advice.
Get Your Beauty Sleep
With clients now recognising the generative power of sleep on the skin’s cells, Georgia Seago finds out how you can help them overhaul their bedtime habits for skin health and wellbeing
What effect does a lack of sleep have on the skin?
“Dark circles around the eyes are the most common tell-tale sign of a poor night’s sleep,” says Dr Natalie Blakely, aesthetic doctor and owner of the Light Touch Clinic is Weybridge, Surrey. These are caused by an increase in cortisol often referred to as the stress hormone, which the body produces lots of when it’s tired.
Cortisol causes blood vessels to swell to accommodate an increased volume of blood. This happens to the blood vessels under the eyes too. “Cortisol activates our ‘fight or flight; response to make the body more alert when sleep deprived,” explains Blakely. “It can also elevate oil production leasing to breakouts.”
“Sleep induces the production of collagen, so over time a lack of sleep often leads to dark circles, fine lines and pallid complexions,” says Dr Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist known as “The Sleep Doctor”. “Plus, growth hormone peaks during deep sleep. And this plays a central role in initiating cellular repair.”
The immune system takes a big hit when the body is deprived of regenerating sleep, and Breus says this is a common cause of rashes and other skin-related problems.
What’s the most effective skincare ingredient for counteracting the signs of poor sleep on the face?
“Hyaluronic acid is your superstar ingredient,” says Blakely. “Lack of sleep can make the skin look tired and washed out, so you need something to give the skin a boost. Capable of holding up to 1,000 times its weight in water, hyaluronic acid deeply hydrates to plump and brighten tired skin.”
Recommend clients try a hyaluronic-boosting serum or course of infusion facials to restore plumpness.
What tips can I give clients to improve their sleep?
“It’s really important that we educate clients during any skin treatment consultation and explain how poor sleeping patterns can affect the skin. If you can really get them to understand the value of sleep, they will be motivated to make lifestyle adjustments,” advises Blakely. “Explain that while the odd late night isn’t going to cause too much damage, inconsistent sleeping patterns over time will have an impact on skin.”
She tells clients that one of the simplest ways to improve their sleep is to switch off all digital devices before bed, as many people don’t understand just how disruptive notification noises and blue light from devices are to rest. “Tell clients to really give some thought to establishing a regular bed time that allows enough sleep before their morning alarm,” she adds.
Breus devised a method for his patients to use during that last hour before bed to prepare for sleep as much as possible. “20 minutes of those small things that need to be done before bed, followed by 20 minutes of bedtime hygiene (personal practices or habits that are necessary for a good night’s sleep), and finally, 20 minutes of meditation, relaxation or massage.”
How can I help clients who suffer from ongoing restless, disrupted sleep?
Simple breathing practices can be very effective in significantly calming the mind and inducing sleep. “A breathing practice can be as simple as taking a series of even, slow inhale and exhale breaths,” explains Breus. “By taking a deep inhale and holding your breath, you’re increasing the body’s oxygen level, allowing your body to work slightly less hard to function.”
A long, slow exhale has a meditative quality and is also very similar to the pace of breathing your body adopts as you’re falling asleep, so by deep breathing when awake, you’re mimicking the breathing patterns of sleep onset, and nudging your body and mind toward rest.”
Blakely is a fan of adaptogenic herbal supplements ashwaghanda and rhodiola, which are said to work on the hormones to help bring the body to optimum functionality.
“Ashwagandha can help reduce stress and anxiety, and rhodiola works hand in hand with it as it helps alleviate mental fatigue, giving more energy during the day,” she says.