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Poor Sleepers Show Premature Skin Aging

Update Date: Jul 24, 2013 03:25 PM EDT

They don't call it "beauty sleep" for nothing. If youth is beauty, then sleep really does make people more beautiful.

A new study reveals that sleep deprivation can actually accelerate skin aging, after researchers at the University Hospitals Case Medical Center found that poor sleepers actually showed more signs of premature skin aging.

The clinical trial, commissioned by cosmetic company Estée Lauder, revealed that poor sleepers showed 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. Researchers noted that people who frequently experience sleep deprivation also gave worse assessments of their own skin and facial appearance than those who got enough sleep.

"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," lead researcher Dr. Elma 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 said in a news release.

"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," she added.

Baron and her team examined 60 pre-menopausal women between the ages of 30 and 49.  Half of the women fell into the poor quality sleep category.  Poor sleepers were identified based on the duration of their sleep and through the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, a standard questionnaire-based assessment of sleep quality.

After conducting several skin evaluation tests, researchers found that poor sleepers showed more signs of fine lines, uneven pigmentation and reduced elasticity on the face, neck and chest.

The study also found that quality sleepers also showed better and quicker recovery from damage to the skin. Study results revealed the skin of poor sleepers showed slower recovery from sunburns and scraps. Poor sleepers also experienced more moisture loss than quality sleepers.

Furthermore, researchers found that poor sleepers were significantly more likely to have a higher Body Mass Index (BMI). Study results revealed that 23 percent of quality sleepers were obese compared to 44 percent of poor quality sleepers.

"This research shows for the first time, that poor sleep quality can accelerate signs of skin aging and weaken the skin's ability to repair itself at night," Dr. Daniel Yarosh, Senior Vice President, Basic Science Research, R&D, at The Estée Lauder Companies, said in a press release.

"These connections between sleep and skin aging, now supported with solid scientific data, will have a profound effect on how we study skin and its functions. We see these findings as yet another way we can direct our scientific research toward the real needs of our customers who want to look and feel their best," he added.

The findings were presented this spring at the International Investigative Dermatology Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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