January 19

Lockdown Sleep Disruption: Start reversing the skin ageing effects in 3 months.


You are not alone if you’ve been struggling to sleep during lockdown!  A study carried out by King’s College London in May 2020 found the following:

  • 50% of people say their sleep has been more disturbed than usual.
  • 52% of women say their sleep has been disturbed 
  • 46% of men say their sleep has been disturbed
  • 39% say they’ve slept fewer hours a night on average compared with before lockdown
  • Nearly two-thirds of the UK report experiencing worse sleep since the lockdown was announced

That’s a lot of lost sleep! 

So, how does lack of sleep age your skin? Exactly how many hours is ‘beauty sleep’? And what can you do to fight signs of ageing and make your face look younger?

Lack of sleep and the ageing face

Let’s start with the science. 

When we don’t get enough sleep, our hormone levels are knocked off balance, metabolism is disrupted, and stress on the body increases, with the hormones cortisol (stress), melatonin (sleep) and insulin (glucose control) all being affected. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to increased incidence of inflammation, oxidative stress and DNA damage.

Unfortunately for our faces, the consequences include the appearance or worsening of signs of ageing including wrinkling and changes in pigmentation. Other reported results of sleep deprivation include alteration to the structure of collagen and reduced integrity of the skin.

A study in 2010 observing the facial aesthetic effects of restricted sleep demonstrated that participants with disturbed sleep patterns appeared less healthy, less attractive and more tired, with changes in skin colour observed.

Another study from 2013 noted sleep deprivation caused paler skin, more wrinkles, dark circles around the eyes, skin laxity around the mouth and swollen eye. Participants were reported to look sadder due to a fatigued appearance.

So good sleep = better skin?

That’s right!  Most of our skin’s repair and regeneration activity is done at night. Our skin cells divide at a faster rate improving skin turnover. This means that, with sleep, we are getting newer, younger skin cells coming through quicker while dead skin cells are falling away.  It’s free, natural skin improvement. 

Great news! But how much sleep is enough sleep? 

There is no set amount of sleep that equates to ‘beauty sleep’, but generally it is thought that between 7-9 hours of good sleep a night supports the physiological functions of our bodies well.

So, what can we do to improve the quality of our sleep? As a pharmacist, I have counselled many patients on the importance of sleep hygiene. There are steps we can take to ensure we have a better night’s sleep. These include:

  • Keep regular sleeping hours, even on the weekends!
  • Wind down at the end of the day 
    • Have a warm bath
    • Write a to-do list for the next day to clear your mind 
    • Do some light yoga or stretching
    • Meditate
    • Read a book
  • Avoid using electronic devices for an hour before going to bed as the ‘blue’ light emitted from them can affect your sleep
  • Keep your bedroom sleep-friendly. It should be:
    • Dark
    • Quiet
    • Tidy
    • Not too warm and not too cold
  • Vapourising essential oils for sleep e.g. Lavender, Chamomile
  • Keep a sleep diary to try and identify habits that may be contributing to your poor sleep

If I still struggle to get enough sleep – can good skincare make up for it?

In short, yes!  Getting good sleep is easier said than done for many of us. What if you have small children waking in the night or you work odd shift patterns? It’s not always as simple as lighting a NEOM candle!

So for those of us who can’t count on a full night’s sleep every night, the power of good evidence-based skincare comes to the rescue!   A good skincare routine helps make the absolute most of those precious hours of shut eye, and 

Below are some of my favourite night-time products that support your skin’s regeneration at night!

These products should be used after a thorough cleanse of the skin in the evening. As with all medical-grade skincare, 3 skin regeneration cycles (90 days total!) are required to see the best results.

So don’t be tempted to give up – persist!  I promise it will be worth it. 

Like exercise, good skin takes commitment and what you put in is what you get out!


‘Retinoids’ is an umbrella term used for a number of Vitamin A derivatives. They have consistently demonstrated good anti-ageing effects in studies carried out. 

So what do they do? 

  • Minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Fade pigmentation and age spots by inhibiting the enzyme involved in hyperpigmentation
  • Stimulate collagen production
  • Speed up cell renewal (giving you newer younger skin cells faster!)
SkinBetter Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream requires a consultation with a medical-professional

Are all Retinoids the same? Absolutely not!

Over the counter Retinoids are generally fairly weak. Stronger strengths are available from medical-professional led skin clinics. Tretinoin is a prescription strength Retinoid which most studies are based on. This can be prescribed after a consultation.

The main barrier to use of stronger Retinoids is irritation, so they should always be recommended and used under the supervision of a medical-professional.

Go low and go slow is the best advice. They can be used as early as your late twenties and it is absolutely essential to use a good SPF 50 alongside.

Exfoliating Acids

They sound dangerous but they’re not! We are talking about Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (e.g. Glycolic acid) and Beta-Hydroxy acids (e.g. Salicylic acid). 

Glycolic acid, sourced from sugar cane, is particularly good for anti-ageing reasons and is commonly used for chemical peel treatments. 

Sugar cane

So what does it do? 

  • Stimulates collagen and elastin production therefore enhances skin firmness and elasticity
  • Improves fine lines and wrinkles
  • Increases hydration of the skin by stimulating production of your own Hyaluronic acid
  • Increases skin thickness making it plumper
  • Dissolves the glue holding together dead skin cells so they fall away leaving a smoother and more radiant complexion
  • Evens the skin tone working on areas of hyperpigmentation (e.g. sun damage and melasma)

Although the concentration is important, an exfoliating acid product with a lower pH is going to penetrate the skin better and work more effectively. So always check both of these features of a product before parting with your money!


Resveratrol is known as the ‘longevity molecule’. Mediterranean diets are rich in Resveratrol as it is found in olives and grapes. It is also found in Japanese Knotweed, a plant which has remarkable regenerative properties!

Resveratrol is an antioxidant which neutralizes age-accelerating internal free radicals. It also boosts the skin’s natural defence against free radicals thereby preventing further damage. Visible signs of ageing are reduced as the skin’s ability to repair itself is improved. 

One of our favourite products is SkinCeuticals Resveratrol BE which improves skin radiance, firmness, elasticity and also skin density by 18.9%. This is quite literally ‘beauty sleep in a bottle’!

SkinCeuticals Resveratrol B E

Do I Need To Use ALL These Products?

No, not necessarily, as even one would make a difference. We would recommend opting for a well formulated Retinoid first, if your skin tolerates it. We are open for free online skin consultations if you need help to find out where to start on the Retinoid ladder and for any other questions you may have.

Hopefully we will be out of this cycle of lockdowns soon enough, however if there are more, these are examples of what you can do to ensure you are not adding any years on to that beautiful face!


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