woman covering her face with blanket

Are my Acne and Sleep Problems connected?

woman covering her face with blanket

It can be hard to get enough sleep. But did you know that your skin could be the culprit? Stay with us. Recent research suggests that your sleep quality may be affected by acne.

Over the past three years, three studies have examined predominantly female populations at varying ages. They found that sleep and acne have an impact on each other. A study that was presented at the 2022 American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting showed that more than half (54%) of acne patients reported sleeping less, while 53 percent of those without it reported having a more restful night.

A second study was published in December. It looked at other factors such as depression and quality-of-life to determine if fatigue could be a factor. They found a direct correlation between acne and good sleep quality when they examined depressive episodes and quality life. A bad night of sleep could also be the reason for acne.

Although some of the experts who were asked about the studies refused to comment as their findings are difficult to interpret, two dermatologists gave their opinions on the research and whether or not these claims are valid.

Can acne affect your sleep?

The evidence is mounting that acne can affect sleep. All the experts that we spoke to agreed that the research was a good start. However, there is still much more to be learned about how acne and sleep affect each other.

Heather D. Rogers MD, a dermatologist board-certified in Seattle, Washington, says that many people with acne sleep well. The most recent study found that 50% of those with acne reported sleeping soundly. “But, the problem for half of them is their poor sleep. If we could improve their quality of sleep, their skin would be healthier. Would their sleep quality improve if they treated their acne? These are the next questions that we must study.”

Bad sleep habits have been proven to increase insulin resistance, stress levels, spike cortisol levels and affect hormones associated with acne. Naana Boakye MD, a New Jersey-based dermatologist and founder of Bergen Dermatology points out that good sleep habits are essential for healthy skin.

Dr. Boakye says that although there are many theories about how acne may impact sleep quality, it has not been proven. Poor sleep quality can be linked to skin aging and an impaired skin barrier. It releases inflammatory markers, lowers the immune system, and can cause insulin resistance. Stress can also increase glucocorticoids (carbon steroids), which can lead to the proliferation of sebaceous cells, which can worsen acne. As these studies suggest, skin and sleep may be linked to quality of living.

A healthy lifestyle is the best thing for your skin and sleep. Dr. Boakye says that acne can be controlled by managing emotional stress, exercising regularly and eating a plant-forward diet.

We say that you only have control over what you can.

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