How does sleep deprivation lead to acne?

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Cheryl Tay Blog | Blog Post of Cheryl Tay

I guess many people actually know that sleep deprivation causes acne but how?


3998225331-300x225Importance of Sleep


It is just like the food and air, we need sleep. It is something your body needs, not an option but extreme sleep deprivation can lead to death, just as sure as starvation does.


Consider sleep as maintenance time. It affects both the mind and the body and when you don’t get enough sleep, both your mind and body suffers and eventually breakdown. Just like a car breaks down if you don’t take good care of it. Lack of sleep, also called sleep deprivation can lead to acne and other health issues, some extremely serious. You’ve been there. You can’t get out of bed and feel tired and low energy the whole day.


There is no magical number of hours you need to sleep. Sleep deprivation has more to do with the quality of your sleep than the number of hours you sleep. That explains why some people can sleep 5 hours a night and feel rested and energized. While other person can sleep 10 hours and still wake up tired and feel groggy the whole day.


Sleep Deprivation Causes Acne (psst! and weight gain too!)

When you sleep late, you’ll notice that your skin actually secretes more sebum, and this probably explains why it results in new acne.  Again, from what I’ve read, a lack of sleep will promote stress and that causes an increase in the substance cortisol in the body. Cortisol in turn, causes the skin to secrete more sebum, which results in acne.  Dr. Gil Yosipovich, professor of dermatology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine suggested that stress-related inflammation maybe to blame for the breakouts. “Our research suggests that acne severity associated with stress may result from factors others than sebum quantity. It’s possible that inflammation may be involved.”


Another factor connecting sleep deprivation to acne is the increase insulin resistance, which can contribute to one being acne-proned according to this medical article on acne causes. This is because insulin resistance can increase glucose or sugar that is one of the major causes of acne.


All of these can make your acne worse.


Yes, lack of sleep can and will make your acne worse and if you are sleep deprived I can be certain that you will not get clear. If you don’t get your sleep you can eat the perfect diet and live the healthiest life and still not get clear. Sleep is a crucial piece of the puzzle. So make sure you get your sleep, but not too much. Sleeping too much has its own downsides. To be healthy and cure acne you need the right amount of sleep.


But how do you know that you are getting just the right amount of sleep?


A few questions to ponder:


  • Do you feel like you could use more energy?
  • Do you often wake up feeling drowsy and tired?
  • Do you have problems falling asleep?
  • Do you have problems staying awake without caffeine or other stimulants?


If you answered yes to one or more of the questions, chances are your sleep could be the reason you sabotaged your efforts to cure acne. Most people don’t get full benefits of your sleep because they sleep ‘poor quality sleep’. So rather than sleeping more, you need to increase the quality of your sleep.




Not getting enough sleep or having sleep difficulties can:


  • Limit your ability to learn, listen, concentrate and solve problems. You may even forget important information like names, numbers, your homework or a date with a special person in your life;
  • Make you more prone to pimples. Lack of sleep can contribute to acne and other skin problems
  • Lead to aggressive or inappropriate behavior such as yelling at your friends or being impatient with your teachers or family members
  • Cause you to eat too much or eat unhealthy foods like sweets and fried foods that lead to weight gain
  • Heighten the effects of alcohol and possibly increase use of caffeine and nicotine
  • Contribute to illness, not using equipment safely or driving drowsily


When you learn to maximize the different phases of sleep and balance your inner sleep clock, you can kiss good-bye to your sleep problems. You get the full benefits of sleep and wake up refreshed and full of energy. And at the same time kick acne where it counts.


Credit: Porcelain, A Skincare Blog

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Cheryl Tay

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Singapore’s only female full-time motoring and motorsports photojournalist. Independent automotive consultant and prominent local motorsports personality Cheryl Tay is uniquely passionate about all things cars and motorsports. She also has a strong passion to share her interest and knowledge, hence having a dream to become the ‘Oprah Winfrey of cars and motorsports’ and create a multimedia platform for her sharing. - A female in a male-dominated world, Cheryl Tay is Singapore’s only female full-time motoring journalist and motorsports blogger and she regularly writes for prominent titles in Singapore, Asia and internationally. (See full list of titles that Cheryl Tay writes for here.)

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