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Is Beauty Sleep a Real Thing

woman sleeping with mask
(Photo: Getty Images)

Did you get your beauty sleep last night? Yes, I’m talking about that old wive’s tale about getting enough sleep and staying beautiful. While beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, a recent study kind of backs up some of the physical benefits associated with regularly getting a good night’s sleep. Is beauty sleep real? 

When we talk about beauty sleep it does not necessarily mean someone goes to sleep looking like Gollum and wakes up like George Clooney. The old sayings about beauty sleep are more in reference to keeping skin healthy, preventing wrinkles, lush hair, and other such features attributed to a healthy body basically. With that said let’s dig into some work conducted by scientists at the University of Manchester.  This study specifically revolves around sleep’s relationship to our  extra cellular matrix, it’s kind of like a loosely woven scaffolding throughout the body. This matrix exists between and around your cells and provides biochemical support throughout the entire body! 

Nearly half of the matrix is made up of small strands or fibers of the protein collagen, yep, the same stuff you find in lotions, creams, and those pricey cosmetic procedures. These super thin fibers run throughout the body as a part of that extracellular matrix. 

Every single day some of these collegian fibers get destroyed from natural wear and tear inside your cells, muscles, and basically everywhere. Remarkably the body produces these collagen fibers as something that can be sacrificed daily in order to let the other parts of the matrix remain. 

After all, we do a lot of stuff to stress the matrix. For example, the act of sneezing will damage or break a very small portion of these fibers.  Okay, now imagine falling down, going running, coughing, going swimming, or just going about your life in general!  

Regardless of if you are running marathons or just doing some yard work, there are a lot of collagen fibers being torn apart all the time. 

However, when one sleeps, the body is given time to repair and recover from all that wear and tear. This matrix needs time to repair to do its job, which is basically supporting the whole body. Your skin, your hair, your bones. All the aspects needed to associate with being a vibrant person really. Some would say these features are attributed to beauty as well. So, if you have someone in your life that’s always focused on becoming beautiful, you can finally tell them to give it a rest!!!

Sleep matters, folks! 

Keeping healthy and looking great because of sleep is just one of the many ways sleep is important to our day to day lives. One particularly fascinating part of the brain is glial cells, the cleanup crew in the brain. While we sleep these glial cells are active cleaning up wastes and toxins from the brain. A clean brain is a healthy brain, right? Well, glial cells actually can cause some harm to the brain if one does not get enough sleep. A recent study showed how Astrocytes, star shaped glial cells, became very active at night and removed damaged cells, but would also remove healthy cells too. Getting the right amount of sleep is vital for our brain to properly function, even when we’re asleep. 

Not only would there be issues with toxin clean up, but attitude is vastly impacted by sleep too. For example, have you ever been  Slangry? This is the beautiful intersection of being sleepy and angry, not a fun time for anyone. Insufficient sleep vastly impacts our emotional reactions including  overestimating threats or perspective on other people’s moods and demeanor. An example is when you may think others are mad at you when it’s really just your sleep deprived brain having exaggerated reactions to other people's actions. 

But wait, sleep deprivation also has an economic impact. Forbes magazine reported that every year the cascading effects of tired or absent employees add up to some big bucks! How much are tired, sleepy, or absent employees costing us? Loss in job productivity costs the United Kingdom about $50 billion a year, Japan about $130 billion, and the United States a whopping  $411 BILLION a year!

We’re always interested in chatting about our relationship to sleep. Knowing more about our own health can help us make better decisions to impact our own schedules for the benefit. We’re not telling you what to do, but you know…sleep on it.