Beauty sleep isn’t just a catchy term. Numerous studies have shown that chronic lousy sleep or insufficient sleep hours increase signs of ageing, weaken the skin’s barrier function and even affect how attractive a person is perceived by themselves and others.
Recently, online journal Sleep Medicine also found that just two nights of insufficient sleep can adversely affect skin’s hydration, firmness and pH levels.
Stijn Massar, a neuroscientist and sleep researcher at the National University of Singapore, says: “Deep sleep is the state where our body and brain can recover the most.
It clears the brain of waste products built up during daytime activities and helps the body to recover from injuries.”
However, contrary to popular belief (or what mum says), Massar doesn’t think we need to fixate on hitting the sheets by 10 or 11pm in order to catch the supposed prime time hours of beauty sleep.
“Going to bed early does help us to gain more hours of deep sleep and get in line with the natural light dark cycles.
It’s also a good way to ensure you actually clock enough hours, as our wake times are often determined by work or school schedules.
But I don’t think we should advise against going to bed later if that is your biological preference, and your daytime schedule still allows for enough sleep,” he explains.
While there are many reasons as to why people stay up late – work obligations, too much on- demand entertainment and so on – one thing’s for sure: The ongoing pandemic has altered our sleep behaviours.
“This has been a worldwide phenomenon,” says Massar. “The breakdown of routines and schedules, reduced physical activity and natural light exposure, the blurring of work-home boundaries – these factors have led people to work and be awake at odd hours, without being psychologically and biologically anchored in their normal structures.
Anxiety about the ever-changing situation could also interfere with a good night’s sleep.”