Does sleep affect acne?
Yes it does. Big time.
But you cannot say sleep causes acne. Sleep, specifically sleep deprivation, affects acne indirectly. Sleep affects most, if not all, the causes that lead to acne.
Lets see how this happens and how you can harness the power of sleep to cure acne. Wouldn’t that be nice? Just put your head into the pillow and dream your pimples away? As you are about to see sleep is an important part to getting clear.
Importance of sleep
Sleep, just like food and air, is something your body needs. It’s not an option. Extreme sleep deprivation can lead to death, just as sure as starvation does.
Consider sleep as maintenance time. It affects both the mind and the body. And when you don’t get enough sleep both suffer and eventually breakdown. Just like a car breaks down if you don’t take good care of it.
Lack of sleep, also called sleep deprivation can lead to acne and other health issues, some extremely serious.
Before we get to that let’s define sleep deprivation as not getting enough sleep. You’ve been there. You can’t get out of bed and feel tired and low energy the whole day. Although sleeping too much can also cause this, as I explain in my Wake Up To Clear Skin report.
There is no magical number of hours you need to sleep. Sleep deprivation has more to do with the quality of your sleep than the number of hours you sleep. That explains why some people can sleep 5 hours a night and feel rested and energized. While other person can sleep 10 hours and still wake up tired and feel groggy the whole day.
Health effects of sleep deprivation
Not getting enough sleep is serious. It has shown to
- Increase inflammation (the main cause behind acne)
- Increase insulin resistance (another bad boy behind acne)
- Make you fat
- Increase stress (read how stress affects acne)
- Lead to depression and negative attitude
Quite a list – eh? All for skimping little sleep. Something we all do in modern society.
Sleep and inflammation
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism reports
A lack of sleep increases inflammatory cytokines. This helps explain why pain flare-up occurs in response to sleep deprivation in various disorders. Even modest sleep restriction adversely affects inflammatory cytokine levels. In a carefully controlled study, sleep deprivation caused a 40-60% average increase in the inflammatory marker IL-6 in men and women, while men alone showed a 20-30% increase in TNF-a. Both IL-6 and TNF-a are potent pro-inflammatory cytokines that induce systemic inflammation.Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2002 Mar;31(1): pp.15-36
40 to 60% increase in inflammatory markers. And just so you know, both IL-6 and TNF-a are among the most dangerous pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Alarmingly these effects showed up after modest sleep deprivation; 2 hours a night for one week.
Here’s the link to the study:
Sleep and insulin resistance
A 1996 study by the University of Chicago Medical Center showed that sleep deprivation severely increases insulin resistance (the body’s ability to use glucose). This not only can lead to acne but diabetes also. Again the sleep deprivation was not severe. The study subjects slept 6 hours or less a night. Interestingly the study also showed that sleeping too much (9 hours or more) had similar effect.
Here’s the study:
Obesity and lack of sleep
I bet you didn’t guess this. Too little sleep can make you fat.
Sleep affects hormones that control glucose metabolism and appetite.
When lack of sleep becomes a chronic problem, levels of Grehlin increases, causing greater appetite, and levels of Leptin decrease. Regardless of diet and exercise, it’s possible that some obesity is caused, or made worse, by sleep deprivation.
Stuffing yourself doesn’t only make you fat, but it’s also bad for your acne.
Not to mention that inflammation and insulin resistance can also lead to obesity and acne.
Lack of sleep can stress you
Sleep deprivation was found to enhance activity on the Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (which controls reactions to stress and regulates body functions such as digestion, the immune system, mood, sex, or energy usage) while suppressing growth hormones.
The Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenalin axis (is that a monster of a word or what) is “main man” behind stress. When you are in a stressful situation it increases stress hormones and triggers the fight or flight response. Lack of sleep leads to similar hormonal response.
Physiologic studies suggest that a sleep deficit may put the body into a state of high alert, increasing the production of stress hormones and driving up blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
Scientists Finding Out What Losing Sleep Does to a Body
By Rob Stein
Cutting sleep can make you depressed
Like those conditions wouldn’t be bad enough sleep deprivation can also plunge you into depression.
Instead of confusing you with medical jargon I’ll just give you the common sense explanation.
Remember the last time you didn’t sleep well and had to go to work or college. I bet you couldn’t concentrate. You were irritable and couldn’t get anything done. As far as work/college goes the day was pretty much wasted.
If you have a demanding life (like we all do) you fall behind. Combine that with no energy or ability to get anything done and you’ll see how easy it is to start worrying. Worrying makes sleeping even more difficult so you find yourself spiraling down to depression.
Lack of sleep and acne
OK, so lack of sleep can make me fat and depressed. So what, but how does this relate to acne.
Sorry for dragging you through all that, but I do have a point here.
In the what causes acne page I explained how inflammation and insulin resistance causes acne. Put one and one together and you’ll see how sleep deprivation can aggravate acne.
Sleep can affect acne in other ways also. Let’s look at mental attitude. Being positive leads to healthy and happy body chemistry (hormones and all that stuff), which helps you to fight acne. Unfortunately the opposite is also true. Being depressed and pessimistic leads to not so healthy body chemistry. And as you just learned sleep deprivation can bum you out.
Still, despite sleep having a big impact on acne, you can’t say sleep deprivation causes acne.
Health, and by extension acne, is a holistic system (each part is connected and affects one another) and it’s impossible to single out a single element (such as diet or sleep) and say this is the cause. Unfortunately it’s not that simple.
Sleep affects every element of health (getting enough sleep positively and sleep deprivation negatively). When you don’t get enough sleep your diet heads south, you have less energy to exercise, you become depressed and pessimistic.
All of these can make your acne worse.
So in summary, yes lack of sleep can and will make your acne worse. And if you are sleep deprived I can be certain that you will not get clear. If you don’t get your sleep you can eat the perfect diet and live the healthiest life and still not get clear. Sleep is a crucial piece of the puzzle.
So make sure you get your sleep, but not too much. Sleeping too much has its own downsides. To be healthy and cure acne you need the right amount of sleep.
But how do you know that you are getting just the right amount of sleep?
Let me ask you few questions.
- Do you feel like you could use more energy?
- Do you often wake up feeling drowsy and tired?
- Do you have problems falling asleep?
- Do you have problems staying awake without caffeine or other stimulants?
If you answered yes to one or more of the questions chances are your sleep could use a little help. And as you just learned this sabotages your efforts to cure acne.
Most people don’t get full benefits of your sleep because they sleep poor quality sleep. So rather than sleeping more you need to increase the quality of your sleep.
When you learn to maximize the different phases of sleep and balance your inner sleep CLOCK you can kiss good-bye to your sleep problems. You get the full benefits of sleep and wake up refreshed and full of energy. And at the same time kick acne where it counts.
What Other Visitors Have Said
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page…
Acne is directly proportional to sleep I am 17 years old male. My skin type is excessively oily. My diet is non-vegetarian. I have a severe acne problem.
For years, I’ve been taking medication,…
Diary of a Sleep-Deprived Ex-Acne Sufferer I realized with bad (quality, not quantity) sleep, my skin tends to have those tiny whitehead bumps that keep popping up around my forehead/cheeks the …