In a first-of-its-kind clinical trial, physician-scientists at University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center found that sleep quality impacts skin function and aging. The recently completed study, commissioned by Estée Lauder, demonstrated that poor sleepers had increased signs of skin aging and slower recovery from a variety of environmental stressors, such as disruption of the skin barrier or ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Poor sleepers also had 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 [removed]International Investigative Dermatology Meeting[/removed] in Edinburgh, Scotland, in an abstract titled “Effects of Sleep Quality on Skin Aging and Function.”
“Our study is the first to conclusively demonstrate that inadequate sleep is correlated with reduced skin health and accelerates skin aging. Sleep deprived women show signs of premature skin aging and a decrease in their skin’s ability to recover after sun exposure,” said Baron, director of the Skin Study Center at UH Case Medical Center and Associate Professor of Dermatology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. “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.”
The researchers found that good quality sleepers recovered more efficiently from stressors to the skin. Recovery from sunburn was more sluggish in poor quality sleepers, with erythema (redness) remaining higher over 72 hours, indicating that inflammation is less efficiently resolved. A Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL) test was used at various time points to determine the ability of the skin to serve as an effective barrier against moisture loss. In measurements 72 hours after a skin barrier stressor (tape-stripping), the recovery of good quality sleepers was 30% higher than poor quality sleepers (14% vs -6%) demonstrating that they repair the damage more quickly.
Additionally, poor quality sleepers were significantly more likely to have a higher Body Mass Index (BMI). For example, 23% of good quality sleepers were obese compared to 44% of poor quality sleepers. Not surprisingly, self-perception of attractiveness was significantly better in good quality sleepers (mean score of 21 on self-evaluation) vs poor quality sleepers (mean score of 18).