Sleep Deprivation Linked To Skin Aging
July 25, 2013

Poor Sleepers Show Increased Signs Of Skin Aging

Susan Bowen for - Your Universe Online

Physician-Scientists at University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center found in a recent study that poor sleepers have increased signs of skin aging and recover more slowly when their skin is stressed.

Among the stressors tested were disruptions of the skin barrier and ultraviolet radiation. The study, commissioned by Estee Lauder, also noted that poor sleepers had a worse assessment of their own skin and facial appearance.

The research team, led by Primary Investigator Elma Baron, MD, presented their data this spring at the International Investigative Dermatology Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland. In explaining the importance of the study Dr. Baron said, "Insufficient sleep has become a worldwide epidemic. While chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to medical problems such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and immune deficiency, its effects on skin function have previously been unknown."

Knowing that sleep quality is vital to the growth and renewal of the body's immune and physiological systems, the researchers wanted to determine if skin function and appearance were also impacted.

They found statistically significant differences. Poor sleepers showed increased signs of intrinsic skin aging, including fine lines, uneven pigmentation, slackening of skin and reduced elasticity. They found no significant differences between the groups in signs caused mainly by sun exposure such as course wrinkles and sunburn freckles.

The researchers also found that good quality sleepers recovered more efficiently from stressors to the skin. After receiving a sunburn, the level of skin redness of poor sleepers remained higher over 72 hours, indicating that inflammation was resolved less efficiently. Their skin was also less able to prevent moisture loss. Good sleepers recovered from skin barrier stressors 30 percent more rapidly as well.

The study involved 60 pre-menopausal women between the ages of 30 and 49, half of whom were poor sleepers. Which women belonged in each group was determined by their duration of sleep and by using the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index, a standard questionnaire-based assessment of sleep quality. Patients also submitted a sleep log for one week.

Another finding was that poor quality sleepers tended to have a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) than better sleepers. 23 percent of good quality sleepers were obese compared with 44 percent of poor sleepers.

"This research shows for the first time, that poor sleep quality can accelerate signs of skin aging and weaken the skin's ability to repair itself at night," said Dr. Daniel Yarosh, Senior Vice President, Basic Science Research, R&D, at The Estee Lauder Companies. "These connections between sleep and skin aging, now supported with solid scientific data, will have a profound effect on how we study skin and its functions. We see these findings as yet another way we can direct our scientific research toward the real needs of our customers who want to look and feel their best."