"Beauty sleep" and stress. More important than you think, do you know why?

As you probably already know -- stress is bad for our health, and many of us are affected differently. Frustration can create havoc on your skin and as a matter of fact too much stress triggers your skin to start the aging process prematurely leading to wrinkles and fine lines before you want to have them.  Stress can actually age you as far out as three to six years!

Stress causes our hormones to operate ineffectively, run down the wrong pathways and to become unbalanced.  Radiant skin comes from great skin care routines, protection from environmental damage and UV rays, good nutrition, adequate hydration, and getting plenty of sleep.

Dermatologist have come to agree that during hours of sleep, cortisol and insulin production inversely peak so that collagen production is accelerated.  Collagen production firms the dermal layers so evaporation is reduced and water retention is maximized.

Resting Tips for “Beautiful Health” Skin


While you slumber, your skin produces more collagen, which gives it the support to counteract the forces of gravity.  If you have a radiant heater or air conditioner running, this can result in evaporation in your skin and water loss.  This contributes to dry skin, especially if you don’t use a high quality facial cream/serum, or do not replenish intake of water hydration through your day.


Bio-chemical Requirement

As the body enters the deepest stage of rest (Delta Sleep), our growth hormones peak and turn on cell and tissue repair.  When there is restless or limited sleep, we cut ourselves short of this crucial restorative process.

In order to give your skin beautiful health it deserves in repairing, rejuvenating, and producing collagen with minimum natural moisture loss, you need a good 6 – 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.


Additional science on how stress can affect your skin include the following:

* Cortisol degrades collagen and directly leads to the formation of wrinkles in the skin.  When you live in a chronic state of stress your body finds it harder and harder to repair itself naturally and so you develop more wrinkles and fine lines.

* The stress hormone CRH can fuel inflammation in the skin and that in turn can cause acne.  Since acne is an inflammatory disease all it takes is in increase in inflammation in the body to cause more acne.  And if you are stressed you are more likely to pick at your breakouts which could lead to even more breakouts.

* Stress hormones can cause your body to release histamines, which can cause a range of skin conditions like dermatitis, irritation, hives, or inflammation or aggravate existing skin conditions like psoriasis.

* Stress can make your hair fall our and make your nails brittle

* Stress makes your eyes look tired.  This could be because you are not getting enough sleep since you are stressed out.  A chronic lack of sleep could lead to fluid stagnation under the eyes and then dark, puffy under-eye circles in the morning.

* Stress could cause your skin to enter mini-menopause.  A chronic flow of cortisol causes a drop in estrogen, which means your skin produces less collagen and less moisture.  Your skin could end up looking dull and dry as a result.


Not just your skin…yes, your belly.

I have learned first hand the effects of too much of the stress and the ramifications of the increased hormone of cortisol.  Lack of sleep and rest leads to our adrenal glands pushing out too much of this belly fat-promoting, collagen-destroying hormone.  The flip side to this is that when getting enough sleep, our cortisol levels reduce. In fact, a landmark sleep study found that those who sleep between 7.5 and 8.5 hours a night secrete half as much cortisol as those only sleeping 6.5 hours or less a night. This can mean significant weight gain of 33 pounds or more!

Excess cortisol turns your once flatter stomach into fat deposit because the abdominal region contains four times more cortisol receptors than other areas in the body.

Researchers have also found that lack of sleep can cause cravings for sweet and salty foods.   We end up compromising and eating foods lacking any nutritional value and lack hydration.  Our waistline or our skin responds well to this kinds of lifestyle for a period of time.

Other studies have found that sleep deprivation leads to inflammation and oxidative stress. One of these studies found that women who don't get their beauty sleep experience disruptions with their skin barrier function, have more water loss in their skin and have extremely high levels of inflammatory chemicals circulating in their bodies.  If we are under chronic stress, cortisol will disrupt collagen production, making skin thinner and weaker.

If you need more encouragement to turn in early every night, then keep in mind that adults who sleep five or less hours a night have a 15 percent chance of dying early from any reason you can think of. Why? Because lack of sleep ages your body.

Supplement to Sleep

Supplements like GABA and melatonin are known to have a muscle-relaxing effect and may improve sleep quality. In turn, better sleep can lead to greater skin repair capabilities, a better-looking complexion with fewer wrinkles and dark circles and less overall dullness.

GABA is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter with a proven connection to the quality and quantity of sleep we achieve. The brain chemical -- gamma-aminobutryric acid, or GABA -- is involved in regulating brain activity.

"It's the brakes of your brain," says Karl Doghramji, MD, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. "It stops activity."

Both sleep problems and anxiety disorders may result from problems with GABA, which helps neutralize the effects of glutamate, a brain chemical that causes excitement. When there is too little GABA, it causes those racing thoughts that characterize anxiety -- and keep you up at night.

Gaba increases the integrity of collagen and elastin and both preventing and counteracting sagging skin.

Melatonin is one of the most powerful antioxidants produced in the body. In addition, since it is both water and fat soluble, melatonin can reach almost every single cell in the body.

Since it cannot store in the body, it must be replenished daily. This would normally not be a problem, except  exposure to artificial light reduces production of melatonin in our bodies.

Mood Elevator: Nighttime melatonin levels are low in people with major depressive and panic disorders. Individuals with noticeable mood swings or who are melancholic also have depressed melatonin levels. Both seasonal affective disorder and non-seasonal cyclic depressions are related to the peaks and valleys of melatonin levels.

Contact Kassie at Kasia Organic Salon for more info on supplementation of Gaba and Melatonin.


Kassie Kuehl is a respected leader in, and advocate for, natural health and beauty care. The founder of Kasia Organic Salon, a stylist, and developer of Kasia natural line, Kassie combines her experience as nutritionist and living foods educator with her ongoing Functional Medicine research to apply a whole of body “Beautiful Health’ approach to hair care and styling. She can be found at www.kasiaorganicsalon.com.

SOURCES: American Medical Association's 22nd annual Science Reporters Conference, Philadelphia, Sept. 11-12, 2003. Karl Doghramji, MD, director, Sleep Disorders Center, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital; professor of psychiatry, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia.
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