Human beings spend more than a third of their lives asleep, so it should not really be a surprise that a lack of it can be behind so many major health problems. Sleep is an incredibly important part of living a healthy life and anything that gets in the way of a sound night of sleep needs to be addressed and remedied.
Two of the main problems are snoring and sleep apnea and both are dangerously ignored by both the individual and the health services.
Under-diagnosis of sleep disorders is known to be the cause of a wide range of serious health conditions, from depression to heart attacks, and health professionals needed to understand that sleep problems can be at the heart of many issues. This includes mental health problems, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and, of course, major safety issues due to fatigue.
This list has now been extended and it is known that sleep loss over a longer period can actually lead to causing more than the usual number of wrinkles and make you look older. As we’re all aware just one night of missed sleep can leave us with dull skin and puffy eyes.
Those who suffer from disturbed sleep due to snoring and similar issues have also been shown to have increased signs of skin ageing and slower recovery from environmental stressors, like exposure to the sun.
Researchers found big differences in the skin quality between good and poor sleepers. Those who didn’t get enough sleep showed increased fine lines, uneven pigmentation, slacker and less elastic skin.
“A lack of sleep is extremely hazardous to both the interior and the exterior of skin,” says advanced skin care specialist Debbie Thomas. “Skin appears sallow and eyes become puffy after a few nights of missed sleep but doing it regularly leads to fine lines and dark circles. This is because when you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases excess amounts of the stress hormone cortisol that breaks down collagen, the protein that keeps skin firm and plump.”
Poor sleepers have increased signs of skin ageing and slower recovery from a range of environmental stressors, like exposure to the sun. Researchers found big differences in the skin quality between good and poor sleepers. Those who didn’t get enough sleep showed increased fine lines, uneven pigmentation, slacker and less elastic skin.
The problem affects both men and women, as do all the other health problems, but women are perhaps more sensitive to it.
When asleep your body works its magic. “When you’re fast asleep, the body goes into repair mode and regenerates skin, blood and brain cells, as well as muscles,” says Lisa Artis from the Sleep Council.
“If you sleep badly, you are likely to become stressed, and this can cause the capillaries to tighten affecting the flow of nutrients to the skin and scalp, causing the skin and hair to look dull,” adds Lisa. “Stress creates a hormonal response whereby the body produces extra adrenaline, which has a major impact on skin function – think drier skin, lines and sagging skin.”
In one study in the British Medical Journal, people rated photos of sleep-starved faces as less healthy and less attractive than pictures of well-rested faces. A Sleep Council survey also found that 1 in 10 women felt so tired it affected their appearance every single day. Shadows and bags under the eyes, washed out and pasty skin were the top complaints.
“It also found that more than 9 out of 10 women agreed the best tonic to looking and/or feeling better was a good night’s sleep,” says Lisa.
The problems of both snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea are easily prevented and this can not only prevent it happening but also wind the clock back and repair some of the harm already done.
Leading health professionals recommend the use of oral appliances to achieve this and this includes the NHS in the UK, and the equivalent medical authorities in all leading countries worldwide. Oral appliances are available online without prescription and easy to fit and wear, being similar to a sporting mouth guard. Similar disruptions to sleep due to the grinding and clenching of teeth are also preventable by using specialist mouth guards at night.