lack of sleep cause acne

Does Lack of Sleep Cause Acne?

People often wonder if lack of sleep causes acne. They may have heard about links between little sleep and breakouts of acne.

Some people have heard about the link between stress that occurs from sleep-deprivation and acne.

It turns out that there are links between lack of sleep and acne. We will explore the various factors in play below.

Psychological Factors of Lack of Sleep

One of the ways that sleep deprivation leads to acne might surprise you. And it should be a bit scary.

Generally,lack of sleep makes people unhappy. It can cause irritability. This can cause people to eat junk food, which boosts Serotonin, making people feel less irritable. As you probably know, chips, pizza, and sugary foods all create face oils that cause acne.

Keeping a healthy mental balance will keep you acne free better than any concealer, even if products for acne are very beneficial. A healthy mental balance means being relatively free of stress, which, as we’ll see, is a major cause of acne.

Lack of Sleep Causes Acne and Stress

While people think that acne comes from greasy foods or from being a teenager, that really isn’t true.

Unfortunately, there are other factors. For example, stress can cause acne. When asking of lack of sleep causes acne, one should realize that lack of sleep can cause stress.

Studies have shown a link between less sleep and stress or other poor moods. If you’ve felt like you feel bad with less sleep, you’re right.

Harvard University cites a study from the University of Pennsylvania showing how lack of sleep causes stress, which in turn causes acne breakouts.

The study showed that students who got 4.5 hours of sleep or less reported feeling stressed, along with other bad moods.

Stress Causes Acne Breakouts

The reason this stress is bad–aside from the fact that it’s stress–is that it causes acne. Dr. Lisa A. Garner, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Texas explains how this works. The chemical that is most responsible for acne is called sebum.

In addition, it’s important to know that sebum is, according to Garner, “unregulated” when a person is stressed out. Thus, the stressed person experiences acne. If the stress comes from lack of sleep, the end result is not sleeping causing acne. In other words, just as sleep is important in general, sleep is good for your skin as well.

Cortisol, the Culprit

Continuing with our discussion of stress and its ways of causing acne, another bad thing stress does is to produce cortisol. According to the Hormone Health Network, cortisol is a “one of the steroid hormones and is made in the adrenal glands.”

The Network also tells us that it is released during periods of stress.

What is the connection between cortisol and acne that is caused by lack of sleep? Well, cortisol, produced by stress (which is present among sleep-deprived people) suppresses the immune system. This means that a type of acne called propionibacterium acne is allowed to grow, not being killed by the immune system.

Oily Skin Can Be Caused By Sleep Deprivation

Now, if you’ve been told that oily skin is a major cause of acne, you are right. However, oily skin has more causes than you may realize. By now, you’re learning that the answer to the question “does lack of sleep cause acne?” is a big “yes.”

And that’s due to the fact that not getting enough sleep can cause acne in so many ways.

Yes, it does cause oily skin.

How does this happen? Well, when you don’t get enough sleep, you experience emotional trauma. Next, this trauma causes your adrenal glands to fire way too much. Not only do they spurt the hormone cortisol, above, but they produce something called DHEA, another hormone. It is a precursor to sex hormones in both men and women, but, specifically, testosterone. Testosterone is produced as a defense mechanism during times of stress.

But it in turn triggers production of sebaceous glands meaning more oil in the skin.

So, by now, you’re seeing a chain of events all beginning with lack of sleep, causing acne breakouts from a wide variety of angles.

Another Acne-Related Hormone: Melatonin

To further illustrate how acne is almost inevitably caused by lack of sleep, here’s one last hormone that plays a role. It’s called melatonin, and you may have heard of it in relation to sleep. Melatonin is necessary for sleep–you won’t go under if your body isn’t producing enough of it.

Not surprisingly, it is triggered by darkness.

Melatonin is linked to acne. Basically, say you’re asleep for seven or eight hours at night. This means that your body will be producing plenty of melatonin. While this is happening, the brain is basically feeling at ease (hence, you don’t wake up). Because it’s at ease, it doesn’t produce corticotrophins, stress hormones mentioned above.

So if you’re wondering if sleeping early can cure acne, well, it’s important to be asleep during nighttime hours.

So, in the first part of this article, we’ve ended your suspense on the question of if lack of sleep causes acne. It certainly does, largely by leading to various imbalances. These generally create hormones that lead, in the end, to the lack of sleep causing acne breakouts.

How Can You Get More Sleep?

We know that life comes at you fast. We also know that people sometimes take little naps and then get just 3 or 4 hours of sleep at night. In fact, these days, with the availability of energy drinks and other supplements and products of various kinds, many folks think they can make up for lack of sleep.

Sometimes we get messages from society saying that a lack of sleep means we are working hard or beating the competition, etc. Or, our bodies may just not want to go to sleep until 3 or 4 a.m. But the health of your skin–and your emotional well-being–is too important to risk the damage of sleep deprivation.

So, even if you’ve gotten into a bad place in terms of sleep, you can turn things around. Fixing the factors that have led lack of sleep to cause acne that has hurt your appearance might not be as hard as you think.

Here are a few tips:

Don’t Let Computer Screens Keep You Awake

One reason so many people are getting too little sleep is that we’re all using screens a lot. We bask in their glow.

But the light from these screens hurts our melatonin production, as described above.

In short, it’s not some old wives’tale, but the real deal: computer screens of all kind lead to a bad night’s sleep. Therefore, one can say that using your screens too much before going to bed helps lack of sleep to cause acne. Is that what you bought your smart phone for?

Here are the facts on this issue. Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston recently did a study on electronic screens and sleep.

They gave participants iPads to read before sleep for five nights. The subjects then read printed books for five nights. Another group did the same, but in reverse order. To briefly summarize, “iPad readers took longer to fall asleep, felt less sleepy at night, and had shorter REM sleep,” according to a Huffington Post article on the study.

REM sleep is the sleep where we dream, and it makes us feel rested.

Now, sadly, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a phone or a tablet or a desktop–the bright glow of any device stops melatonin production. It’s part of the chain of events in which lack of sleep causes acne.

General Sleep Tips

Beyond being sure to turn off your computer screen, here are some other tips:

1. Read a book–As you just saw above, while we see how lack of sleep can cause acne, it’s just as true that reading books is not the culprit. It’s the computer screen. In fact, if you read a printed book, you’ll probably fall asleep due to the mental exertion.

Your brain will tire quickly, and drowsiness will take you over. This is particularly true if you read with a small light in an otherwise dark room. The general darkness of the room tells your brain it’s bedtime, causing melatonin.

2. Only sleep in bed–As you’re learning, some of your sleep life depends on basically tricking your mind. If you use your bed for sitting and texting, watching TV, lounging with your adorable puppy, etc., your mind won’t get tired when you go to bed. Trick your mind by going to bed only when you want to sleep.

3. Cut down on stimulants–We all enjoy some coffee or other caffeinated beverages. We all have our ways of getting energy for the trials of our day. However, it’s key to stay away from them within four or five hours of sleep.

Remember, we’ve found lack of sleep to cause acne–why risk it? If you feel buzzed or energetic less than an hour or two before bedtime, you’re doing it wrong. You should start feeling a nice peacefulness from the day’s work and activities about two hours before bedtime.

Then, you should start feeling drowsy about a half an hour before bedtime. Does lack of sleep cause acne? Where have you been for the rest of this article? Of course it does–clean skin will more than make up for less of a caffeine buzz.

4. Exercise–It’s pretty much as simple as tiring yourself out. Since lack of sleep can cause acne, you need about 8 hours per night. Exercise can help by preparing your body for sleep. Just don’t do it just before bed.

5. Make your bed–Hey, we’re not trying to be your mom here. But in today’s fast-paced lifestyle, a lot of us skip some of the basic housekeeper stuff. Having a properly made bed with keep you from tossing and turning, getting tangled up in sheets and all that stuff. It makes a difference.

Other Ways to Stop Lack of Sleep From Causing Acne

There’s no doubt that you need to get your sleep habits under control, first and foremost. It’s best to cut down on the causes of acne at their root.

However, there are products that actually help you do this. Some products like foundations or face washes contain vitamins and other ingredients that stop the reactions that cause acne.

In fact, there are products of all kinds, sunscreens, antioxidant serums, BB creams, and Korean skincare products that are designed specifically to help with acne.

We have explained that lack of sleep does cause acne.

However, there are easy solutions for you to be aware of. You’ll thank yourself for getting better sleep.

Elisabeth Hasselblad

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