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In a first-of-its-kind clinical trial, physician-scientists at University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center found that sleep quality impacts skin function and aging. The recently completed study, commissioned by Estée Lauder, demonstrated that poor sleepers had 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. Poor sleepers also had worse assessment of their own skin and facial appearance.
The research team, led by primary investigator Elma Baron, MD, presented their data this spring at the International Investigative Dermatology Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland in an abstract titled “Effects of Sleep Quality on Skin Aging and Function.”
“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,” said 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. “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.”
Skin functions as an important barrier from external stressors such as environmental toxins and sun-induced DNA damage. The research team set out to determine if skin function and appearance is also impacted by sleep quality, which is vital to the growth and renewal of the body’s immune and physiological systems.
The study involved 60 pre-menopausal women between the ages of 30 and 49, with half of participants falling into the poor quality sleep category. The classification was made on the basis of average duration of sleep and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, a standard questionnaire-based assessment of sleep quality. The study involved a visual skin evaluation and participation in several non-invasive skin challenge tests including UV light exposure and skin barrier disruption. Additionally, participants filled out a sleep log for one week to quantify sleep duration.