It can be tempting to stay up late to chat with a friend, study for an exam, or finish a project for work. In general, staying up late once in a while is perfectly fine, however if it happens too frequently it may have negative effects on your skin and overall health.

Because insufficient sleep is linked to high cortisol levels, a weaker immune system, and poor skin hydration, staying up late can cause acne. There are many things that can affect the quality of your skin, but sleep seems to be one of the most important factors.

Keep reading to find out how poor sleep causes acne, as well as a couple useful tips. Alternatively, if you are not able to fall asleep fast enough, have a look at this article for five easy tricks to fall asleep quickly.

How lack of sleep can cause acne

1. Cortisol

Cortisol is a very useful hormone. When your body is in fight or flight mode, it activates cortisol which, in turn, temporarily boosts your energy, increases your heart rate, and makes you more alert. When we face dangerous situations and threats, cortisol can be very helpful; when we are simply stressed out — not so much.

When sleep deprived, your body will produce more cortisol as a stress response. This is one of the reasons we feel so irritable when we get insufficient sleep. Unfortunately, high levels of cortisol means high levels of sebum as well.

Sebum is an oily lubricant produced by your skin. When you have optimal levels of this oil, your skin is moisturized and looks beautiful; however excessive amounts can cause various forms of acne. When you stay up late and do not get enough sleep, the cortisol spike leads to more sebum and, potentially, an outbreak.

Though sleep should always be a priority, there are other things you can do to decrease your cortisol levels, such as improving your posture and practicing activities that promote relaxation — meditation, massage, exercise, breathing techniques, and relaxing hobbies. Also, reduce or eliminate stimulants, including coffee.

2. Immune system

The role of the immune system is to protect your body from diseases. Because lack of sleep causes stress, and stress affects the immune system negatively, if you stay up late too often your body will not be able to fight infections efficiently.

You may have noticed that when you are very stressed out (for example, during times in which you are super busy, or worrying about a negative event in your life) you tend to get sick more frequently.

The bad news is that when your immune system is weak, it also affects your skin. If your skin cannot fight off bacteria and germs, it is more likely to develop acne. Make sure you sleep enough so your immune system is strong and you have beautiful, clear skin.

3. Dry skin

Most people assume oily skin makes it more likely to develop acne, which is true, however outbreaks can be caused by dry skin as well. If your skin is too dry, your body will try to moisturize it by producing excessive sebum which, in turn, will likely cause acne. And if you have cracked skin, it doesn’t help either: bacteria can get in the cracks.

So what does lack of sleep have to do with dry skin? Well, during sleep your body sweats and rebalances hydration, so if you don’t sleep enough, your skin will likely become drier. Drinking a lot of water isn’t enough to have glowing, soft skin — you need to get your eight hours as well.

4. A vicious cycle

Insufficient sleep and outbreaks cause stress, and stress causes insufficient sleep and outbreaks. Staying up too late and worrying about acne can soon turn into a vicious cycle, which is why you have to make sleep a priority and do anything you can to fall asleep quickly.

Big tip: when you can’t fall asleep, don’t stress about it — it creates unnecessary anxiety and frustration. Instead, get up and do something relaxing. Just make sure you don’t use digital screens as they produce blue light and keep you awake.

How often should you change your pillowcase to prevent acne?

As frequently as possible! Even if you shower or wash your face before you go to bed, your pillowcase will still accumulate sweat, oil, dirt, bacteria, and dead skin cells. If you are serious about preventing acne and having smooth skin, change your pillowcase at least once every three days, ideally every day.

Apparently, 100 percent silk pillowcases are better for your skin, for two reasons: silk absorbs less moisture than cotton, so your skin will be more hydrated throughout the night; it’s also a very smooth fabric, so there will be less pressure and friction on your skin.

How to fall asleep faster

There are many things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep effortlessly. Specifically, to fall asleep faster you can do the following:

  • Wear blue light blocking glasses at night, especially if you spend a lot of time in front of digital screens
  • Listen to white noise (a sound that blocks out all frequencies and help you sleep even if you are in a noisy environment)
  • Don’t eat anything at least three hours before bed, as digestion requires a lot of energy and disrupts sleep
  • Make sure you consume enough carbs (to boost serotonin levels) and have optimal levels of magnesium and potassium
  • Practice breathing techniques such as the 4-7-8 technique

For a full explanation of these five tips, check out this post.

Thank you for reading this article! If you found it useful, feel free to share it 👇