Everyone Says You Need “Beauty Rest,” but Is It Even a Real Thing?

Can you, too, be a sleeping beauty? Can some sound shut-eye shape you into a stunning sight? Here's your answer.

F8-studio/Shutterstock, Neyman-Kseniya/ShutterstockYou’ve heard it since you were a wee thing—get your beauty rest. But now it’s the night before an interview for your dream job or a big date and you’re trying every sleep trick that really works to try and nod off. So will a sound night’s sleep ensure you’re at your dazzling best in the a.m.?

Beauty rest is not only for real, says Heidi A. Waldorf, MD, director of Laser & Cosmetic Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, but it’s highly necessary for all ages. “Our bodies—every organ and function—require rest, time to regenerate and prep for activity. While awake, eating, moving, thinking, the normal physiologic processes our organs do to allow those activities and to protect us from the environment like ultraviolet light and pollution, produce molecules like free radicals that can be toxic if they build up,” she explains.

Sleep is like plugging in your phone: Your body recharges in preparation for another full day of demands. “Without sleep, nothing runs as well. We all know that lack of sleep makes us ‘run down’ and more prone to colds because our immune systems don’t function as well,” Dr. Waldorf explains. “A secondary effect is the effect of fatigue on how we feel. Exhaustion is both a consequence and a cause of stress. Stress—emotional and physical—has secondary effects on how our bodies function.”

That all sounds good and healthy, but what about the beauty part? Dr. Waldorf says that getting adequate sleep also allows skin cells to repair. Consider your acne treatment or face moisturizer—part of the reason these overnight treatments work so effectively is because we don’t mess with them while we’re asleep, allowing them to really seep into our skin and work their magic. “Think of sleep time as rest, regenerate, and repair time,” she says. (Learn more about how your skin reacts throughout the day.) Exhaustion and stress isn’t just hard on internal organ systems, points out Dr. Waldorf. Your appearance will pay the price as well in the form of puffy eyes and flare ups of whatever your dermatologic issue might be—acne, rosacea, psoriasis, or something else.

A full night on your back means better blood flow to your face—adding glow to your complexion—and head—supporting healthy hair. Being prone means you’re altering the angle of gravity’s clutches, and that helps prevent sagging and wrinkles. So rest your weary head, sleeping beauty—you’ll feel and look better in the morning.

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