Circadian Rhythm: Skin & the Body’s Internal Clock
One of the most common pieces of advice passed on generation by generation would be about the importance of a good night’s sleep. A lot of wisdom has been shared on this issue with medical and scientific correlation.
Sleep helps the body move into hibernation mode, thus helping with regeneration and repair of the damage which may have been caused by various processes during the day. A bad night’s sleep reflects in the mirror the next morning, showing up as dark circles, acne breakouts, and dull, sallow and lifeless skin. Any sleep deprived individual would agree with this. Even in the case of a jet lag, the similarity is observed.
Often referred to as the “body clock”, the circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep and regulates many other physiological processes. This internal body clock is affected by environmental cues, like sunlight and temperature. It plays a crucial role in making your skin healthier and more resilient and delaying the signs of aging.
How does Circadian rhythm help, and how does disturbance in the cycle cause harm?
- Circadian rhythm protects and nurtures stem cell differentiation, which helps in regeneration, repair and maintenance of healthy skin, by regulating cell cycle turnovers at appropriate timings and surroundings.
- It works on a mechanism whereby an out of sync circadian clock can contribute to accelerated skin aging and skin damage and other visible cosmetic concerns.
- Disturbance can cause tumors/cancers, many studies still in progress on this thought.
What to do?
- If you experience inadequate sleep once in a while, your skin won’t be as stressed as it would be from chronic circadian rhythm disruptions, just try to get back on schedule and routine as soon as you can.
- Use products that help your skin’s circadian rhythm function in a healthy way. This is especially important as you age, since the circadian function actually dies down as the years pass. At night, use a retinol or retinoid based prescription cream to stimulate skin cell turnover in addition to natural processes. This will help your skin cells produce healthy collagen and elastin and keep your skin smooth and wrinkle-free for a time*.
- Certain topical medications are absorbed better in the evening, when moisture is greatest in the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of skin, and possibly lead to improved timing for cosmetic products. The night is also the perfect time to treat skin to an intense dose of hydration, since sebum production or your skin’s natural oil is lowest while you’re asleep, with powerful humectants like hyaluronic acid, which attract and bind moisture.
- During the day, protect your skin with a broad-spectrum sunscreen that contains additional antioxidants.Sunscreen is necessary even when you’re in a shade or taking a quick walk down the block or sitting insideyour house with a lot of natural daylight. Oral sunscreen works the best with skin highly susceptible to skin damage; it boosts internal antioxidants and provides protective immunity. It helps protect your skin againstboth the development of skin cancer and skin cell breakdown from sun exposure, which leads to increased skin laxity, sunspots and the development of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Avoid caffeine within 6 – 8 hours of bedtime. Avoid alcohol too. While alcohol may help one to fall asleep initially, it generally causes the restorative quality of sleep to suffer. Caffeine & alcohol dehydrate the skin as well. Your sleeping patterns have a direct impact on your skin and hair.
It is important to keep a regular sleep schedule and allow plenty of time for quality sleep to look and feel your best. Always discuss any sleep problems you may have with a doctor. He or she can help find the source of your problem and the best way to treat it.