The zero cost trick for the best skin of your life

More collagen, greater skin repair, less inflammation, and improved self-perception, and all without spending a single cent. Our sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo spills all. 

Sleep: it’s free. And we all want more of it, so why is it so hard to get? Specifically – that consistent, restorative, uninterrupted, eight-hours-a-night kinda sleep. Which is why we’ve enlisted Sydney-based sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo to solve our myriad of sleep concerns with our new editorial series Sleep Well Wednesdays. Check back each week and you’ll be off to the land of nod before you know it.

Ahh.. that holiday glow. How we yearn to wake up bright-eyed, bag-free and radiant each morning.

You may be putting on your night cream and wearing SPF50+ under your moisturiser, but are you taking advantage of your innate anti-ageing mechanism… sleep?

Yep, beauty sleep is real and beauty sleep actually works.

And because I like you to be educated and empowered, today I’m going to share exactly why, how, and what it means for you come morning.

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Sleep promotes cell recovery

A recent study found skin recovery post-UV exposure is 30 percent higher for those who sleep well. 30 percent! This can be attributed to the benefits of deep sleep: it’s when 70 percent of human growth hormone (HgH) is produced. HgH stimulates IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor): working within our epidermis, it promotes cell proliferation (growth), membrane recovery and even limits cell death.

Collectively, this results in smoother skin with fewer signs of ageing – even after UV penetration. Especially in summer, take note.

Sleep reduces inflammation

Studies show lack of sleep encourages cytokines release, pro-inflammatory critters to weaken the cell barrier and allow unwanted substances in – silicones in your anti-ageing products, synthetics in your perfume, and even environmental pollution.

As a result, your skin is more likely to react to these products, even if it usually doesn’t: cue breaking out, redness, rashes and inflammation.

Cytokines also contribute to cellular water loss – cue leathery skin, signs of fine lines and dryness.

Needless to say, inflamed, dehydrated skin? No thanks. Sleep? Yes, please.

Sleep supports collagen (and fewer wrinkles)

Collagen enables elasticity of the skin: less collagen equates to more wrinkles, lacklustre, saggy skin. The older we get, the lower our collagen levels become, and cue these signs of ageing.

However, we can limit this ageing process with adequate rest: research shows tiny collagen fibres repair during sleep, but not when we are awake. If you’ve noticed your skin looks younger after a good night’s sleep, this is exactly why.

Sleep improves how we feel about our appearance

Evidence shows self-rated appearance is higher for those who sleep better – so not only does sleep improve physiology, it improves our psychology too.

This is hardly surprising: sleep deprivation is linked with negativity, pessimism and stress – impacting self-confidence.

Interestingly, this is reflected in how others rate our appearance too: studies show sleep-deprived individuals are believed to be less attractive and unhealthier than well-rested counterparts.

So next time you’re feeling overly self-critical, do yourself a favour and get some sleep, you’ll wake up a new person.

Olivia Arezzolo is a sleep expert who holds a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology); Certificate of Sleep Psychology, Diploma of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine); Certificate of Fitness III + IV. You can find her online here.