How sleep is linked to your skin, hair, immunity and wellness

Open your eyes to the many health and wellness benefits of some shut-eye.

With our busy lifestyles, it’s becoming increasingly harder to squeeze in enough time for a full sleep cycle. However, we need to realize that sleep plays an important role in regulating the vital processes of our body. It helps us function optimally at the level of external appearance, physiological, and mental functioning. Here’s a look at how sleep is linked to skin care, hair loss, and holistic wellness.

Why your body loves to sleep. Pic source

Why your body loves to sleep. Pic source

Sleep and Skin

The linker that connects sleep and skin is the hormone named “cortisol” or the stress hormone. In low amounts, cortisol is beneficial to the body because it heightens memory, lends quick bursts of energy, and maintains the body’s homeostasis.


However, when the body is under chronic stress due to poor sleep, the presence of cortisol in the blood stream is more prolonged. This doesn’t bode well for the skin and other functions of the body. Cortisol causes stress and inflammation in the body increasing the skin’s sensitivity, acne breakouts, increased itching, and dermatitis. Itching at night disturbs sleep, resulting in higher cortisol production, more inflammation, and a vicious cycle is set into place.

Cortisol versus Collagen+Hyaluronic acid

Collagen is a protein that gives the skin stability and structure. However, cortisol works against collagen and breaks down the structural framework of collagen. This collapse is seen in the form of wrinkles and sagging skin.

Collagen- protein shapes your skin structure. See if you can spot the three different helices that make up this protein! Source: Wikimedia Commons

Collagen- the protein that shapes your skin structure. See if you can spot the three different helices that make up this protein! Source: Wikimedia Commons

Hyaluronic acid is a humectant (attracts and binds moisture to the skin) which gives the skin a healthy glow, bounce and translucency. Cortisols destroy this humectant causing the skin to have a dry, dull and dehydrated appearance.


This problem could be intensified at the level of the immune system causing skin diseases such as psoriasis and eczema.


During the day, the skin is busy fighting off UV radiations, allergens, dust and pollen. This happens because the stem cells of the skin switch on certain genes to activate this defense.

However, while sleeping, these threats are no longer there. So, instead of switching on the defense genes, the stem cells focus on regeneration of skin cells. Fresh, new skin cells are formed which replace the old, dead skin cells. This creates an active cell turnover and repairs whatever damages have been caused during day. When you don’t get enough sleep, these daily damages accumulate and result in accelerated aging of skin.

The puffy eyes that you get when you haven’t slept enough is because your blood pressure is low which makes for poor blood circulation most visible in the region of the eye.

Sleep and hair loss

Sleep could be one of the causes for hair loss, though it is usually not the only cause. During sleep the body recharges itself by absorbing essential nutrients and electrolytes from the bloodstream. When adequate time is not spent sleeping, this process is inhibited. There aren’t enough nutrients to channel towards the development of the hair follicle, and eventually the roots of the hair become weak and the hair falls off. The immune system is hampered which results in diseases. The physiological stress exerted by the body in overcoming disease triggers hair loss.

Sleep and holistic wellness

All you need to know about sleep

(Click to enlarge)All you need to know about sleep: A research study by Harvard.

Sleep & good health becomes an inseparable for well-being throughout life. Adequate sleep benefits your heart, weight, mind, and more.

Less sleep can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.Prepare your brain to plan for the next day which will increase your productivity in terms of creativity, decision making, problem solving & also controlling your emotions and behaviour!

Likewise even oversleeping is considered as a medical problem ‘hypersomnia’ with which you can experience symptoms of anxiety, low energy, and memory problems too.

Sleep style can vary from individual to individual but suggested hours on an average is 8 hours of sleep a night. But then again, there are a few who can function without drowsiness after 6 hours of sleep while others can’t perform at their peak unless they get a long 10 hours sleep.

The relationship between sleep, skin, hair, and wellness is still quite complex and involves a maze of interacting metabolic pathways.

What are the things you can do when you can’t fall asleep?

Adopt a pre-bedtime relaxation regimen consisting of a champi (a traditional ayurvedic massage). You can learn and teach others how to do this massage by following the steps listed here.

Take a warm bath before you go to bed. Infuse your bath with these soap-free, rejuvenating bath recipes

  1. Milk & Honey: Pour a half cup of full-fat powdered milk and a half cup of honey into your bucket and swish the water around to mix the solution. Use a dry brush or wash cloth to gently wash yourself with this rejuvenating body wash.
  2. Oatmeal: Fill a knee high sock without any major holes with half a cup of oatmeal. Tie up the top of the sock tightly. Gently squeeze the sock into the bucket of water to release the oatmeal. You can also use the sock as a gentle scrub at the end of the bath. (source)
Oatmeal, Milk and Honey- the perfect ingredients for a relaxing, de-stressing bath

Oatmeal, Milk and Honey- the perfect ingredients for a relaxing, de-stressing bath Pic source

Other simple things like reading a book before sleeping, listening to soothing music, avoiding smoking, alcohol, and caffeine before bed, staying away from digital distractions- will contribute to your attaining sleep sooner for the rest, relaxation and rejuvenation that your body deserves!


Feature Image: Wikimedia

Sources 1 2 3 4 5, Van Dongen & Dinges, Principles & Practice of Sleep Medicine, 2000

Also contains inputs from SoulTree’s research team.

The Natural Beauty and Wellness Hub is our journey into discovering ideas for personal care that are natural, free of harsh chemicals and over-processing, are non-polluting and fair to everyone involved in the process, just as much as it is an inquiry into the idea of beauty and wellness itself. All content on the hub is produced with 100% editorial independence by The Alternative. 


The Hub is supported by  logo st that produces a line of organic certified skin care solutions made with natural ingredients and eco-friendly processes and in true Ayurvedic tradition. SoulTree® is India’s first and the only range of certified natural beauty & personal care products crafted from natural origin ingredients, using natural oils and carefully selected Ayurvedic herbs which are grown organically or wild-crafted in the Himalayas and through strictly regulated processes to ensure that synthetic and harmful ingredients do not make their way intothe products. Every SoulTree product comes in a recyclable packaging. Their products and processes can be found on

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