Swissline is proud to announce our content partnership with world-renowned Sleep Expert and Psychologist Dr. Michael J. Breus (The Sleep Doctor)! This article was written by Dr. Breus to share fascinating and practical tips to help our readers understand the importance of sleep in their everyday lives. In this content series, Dr. Breus will also share the benefits of sleep for improving the aging process overall - especially as it's related to skin health.
We all want to look younger, feel youthful and energized, and live long, full, vibrant lives into old age. Want to know a secret to slowing aging that many people miss? A consistent routine of plentiful, high-quality sleep. Your nightly sleep has a powerful impact on your biological age. Sleep influences aging inside and out.
Wrinkles, fine lines, and dull skin?
The health and strength of muscles and bones?
Cellular and immune health?
Production of hormones than maintain a more youthful body and appearance?
Risks for chronic disease linked to aging?
For better AND worse, sleep is a significant factor in all of these challenges associated with aging.
A consistent routine of high-quality sleep reduces visible signs of aging and helps to lessen age-related pain and stiffness. Sleeping well helps to slow aging of cells and helps to keep the body’s systems functioning optimally, providing us with more energy and delivering protection against age-related diseases.
That’s good—actually, great—news about sleep as an anti-aging agent. But when it comes to aging there are consequences for not getting the regular rest we need. Poor sleep speeds up the aging process, accelerating the outward signs of aging, advancing biological age at the cellular level, and weakening natural immunity. Chronic poor sleep makes us look older, feel older, and make us more vulnerable to illness and disease.
Sleep is essential to keeping the immune system functioning as effectively as possible as we age. Our immune systems do the life-preserving, youthfulness-promoting work of eliminating disease-causing germs, neutralizing harmful substances that enter the body from the environment, and combating major changes within the body, such as the growth of cancer cells.
Sleep provides a critical nightly reboot of the immune system. During sleep, the immune system regroups and refreshes in order to continue to respond quickly and effectively to threats. Sleep increases activation of T cells, the white blood cells that fight the presence of viruses in the body. And sleep promotes the production of cytokines, proteins that facilitate communication between cells and direct T cells and other fighter cells to their targets.
Poor sleep compromises the immune system. When sleep is compromised, so is healthy immunity. Lack of sleep depresses T cell activation and inhibits cytokine production. Short on sleep, we’re more prone to unhealthful inflammation and to oxidative stress, which leave the immune system weakened and over-taxed, and are major contributors to the aging of our cells, as well as to our risks for chronic disease.
Research shows that maintaining a routine of high-quality sleep offers protection against age-related increases in inflammation. Sleeping well also helps to lower risks for the chronic diseases associated with aging, from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
During sleep, the body works to repair and rejuvenate damaged cells. This nightly cellular rehabilitation has an impact on everything from the youthfulness of our skin and hair, to the strength of our bones, and the healthy function of our organ systems.
The most abundant cellular repair happens during a stage of deep sleep known as slow-wave sleep. Slow-wave sleep takes place in recurring phases throughout the night, with the longest stretches of slow-wave sleep happening during the first third of the night. In order to take full advantage of slow-wave sleep’s rejuvenating effects on cells, we must consistently get a full night of restful sleep. Older adults who sleep 7 or more hours a night have cells that are comparable to middle-aged adults, according to one key marker of cellular age.
Trouble falling asleep, waking throughout the night, and sleeping on an irregular schedule all can deprive us of the slow-wave sleep we need to fuel cellular repair—and to feel deeply rested and refreshed for the next waking day. And as we age, we gradually spend less time in slow-wave sleep, so adhering to a sleep routine that delivers a full night of high-quality rest becomes even more important to slow cellular aging.
When we don’t get enough sleep, cells age more quickly. Research shows that a single night of sleep deprivation accelerates cellular aging. Poor sleepers show greater signs of skin aging, too. Their skin is less healthy and is more vulnerable to environmental stressors, including UV rays and the damage that sun exposure can inflict on DNA. Good sleepers have greater natural skin protection against external factors that can damage and age skin, and they rebound more quickly from exposure to those factors.