Least Surprising Study Ever Suggests That Sleep Is Good For Your Skin

When I don’t sleep, my undereye circles turn a bright and stylish shade of purple. My face will swell, adding some much-needed volume to my lips. My eyes look even droopier the beauty-icon Marilyn Monroe. My skin dulls, providing that much-coveted “matte” look. Finally, my blemishes will increase, which… uh… builds character?

Despite these clear cosmetic improvements, a new study has come out that suggests that sleep deprivation may not be the key to beauty!

Pretending to sleep.

Research physicians at the University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleavland, Ohio led by dermatologist Elma Baron, MD, conducted the study. Baron notes, “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.”

Researchers recruited sixty pre-menopausal women. Using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (which you can find online here, scoring can be found here) and a sleep log, participants were evaluated for the quality of their sleep. The women also had their skin assessed using visual cues, UV light exposure, and skin barrier disruption.

Women with poor sleep quality were more likely than good sleepers to have fine lines, hyper- and hypopigmentation, and a reduction in skin elasticity. (They were not more likely to have deep wrinkles or other sunburn-related damage). They also took longer than good sleepers (over 72 hours) to recover from UV-light-precipitated inflammation.

Women who slept better also rated themselves as more attractive.

Obviously, this study is correlational, meaning that we cannot infer causation (regardless of Dr. Daniel Yarosh’s claim that “poor sleep quality can accelerate signs of skin aging”— this study does not show that!). Women were not randomly assigned to have shitty sleeping habits. It is perfectly likely that a third variable could explain the relationship between sleep and loveliness. For example, socioeconomic status  (SES) might be a plausible explanation. Low-SES women may be constantly stressed, getting bad sleep, getting bad nutrition, and finding themselves unable to take care of their skin as thoroughly as their high-SES peers. That being said, this study is still a good first step towards examining the relationship between sleep and skin.

Also worth noting: the study was commissioned by Estée Lauder. Since they don’t sell beds, though, this doesn’t horrify my inner skeptic too much! Caveats aside, I won’t be skipping my beauty rest (but that may be because sleep is one of the best things ever).


1. Oh hellocampcomfort.com, you never fail to crack me up. I love your blog.

2. Thank you kindly!

3. I wish I could find the actual report, instead of just reports of the report, so I could send it to my PI as an excuse next time I’m late!

4. It was presented at conference, so there is no academic paper to cite!