Both lack of sleep and stress prompt our bodies to produce a hormone called cortisol, which causes blood sugar levels in our bodies to rise. This can lead to weight gain, heart problems, and now recent research is shedding light on the connection between cortisol production, stress and lack of sleep—and the effect this has on our skin.
Cortisol Effects on Skin
- Wrinkles: Cortisol-caused blood sugar increases can accelerate the aging process, since excess sugar can compromise the collagen in our skin and lead to wrinkles.
- Acne: Acne can also be exacerbated by cortisol that’s released when external factors affect our bodies.
- Dryness: Research has also shown that these hormonal surges can impair our skin’s barrier as well, leading to dryness, irritation and inflammation—which, as we know, are less than desirable when it comes to our skin.
What You Can DoSo what can you do to minimize cortisol production caused by stress and lack of sleep?
- Sleep: Aim to get at least seven hours of sleep per night.
- Avoid caffeine
- Eat Healthy: You should also try to eat a healthy, low-sugar diet, and remember that starchy vegetables like potatoes are ultimately converted into sugar when they are processed by our bodies.
- Go for Omega-3s: To keep inflammation under control, make sure you get enough omega-3s, either from the foods you eat or supplements. (For skin inflammation, look for soothing ingredients like feverfew, chamomile and salicylic acid).
- Relax: Lastly, slow down! Set aside some time for yourself every day to do a good-for-your-mind-and-body activity like meditation, exercise or a pampering bubble bath. And don’t underestimate the power of aromatherapy. Research shows that a little lavender essential oil can go a long way for relaxation. Believe it or not, your skin will thank you!