Why a good night’s sleep is essential for glowing skin, according to science

Science has confirmed what most of us have long-suspected: a good night’s sleep is the key to glowing skin.

It has everything to do with collagen. Specifically, the study, which was published in Nature Cell Biology, found that our collagen repairs itself while we sleep.

Researchers discovered that we have two variations of collagen fibres: one thicker than the other. The thicker type is permanently formed at 17 years old and does not change for the remainder of our lives.

On the other hand, the thinner structure, which scientists refer to as “sacrificial”, breaks down under stress, such as sun exposure, air pollution and alcohol. Researchers found that sleep was essential for the replenishment of this type.

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To conduct the study, scientists observed the collagen fibres in mice every four hours over a two-day period. They found that when the mice slept, the “thinner” collagen repaired itself before combining with the other permanent fibres.

“If you imagine the bricks in the walls of a room as the permanent part, the paint on the walls could be seen as the sacrificial part which needs to be replenished every so often,” the study’s lead author Karl Kadler said.

“And just like you need to oil a car and keep its radiator topped up with water then thin fibrils help maintain the body’s matrix.”

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Collagen gives our skin that firm, pillowy glow. However, as we age, our collagen levels tend to decrease, leading to duller skin and more wrinkles.

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Explaining the significance of collagen for glowing skin, Kadler added: “Collagen provides the body with structure and is our most abundant protein, ensuring the integrity, elasticity and strength of the body’s connective tissue.”

He continued, “It’s intuitive to think our matrix should be worn down by wear and tear but it isn’t and now we know why” our body clock makes an element which is sacrificial and can be replenished, protecting the permanent parts of the matrix.”

The study’s findings could shape how we understand our biology at its most fundamental level, such as by giving us deeper insight into how wounds heal, or how we age, Kadler said.

For now though, think of this as another reason to prioritise that restful good-quality sleep.

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From: Harper’s BAZAAR UK