Lack of sleep is like a hangover for your skin that never goes away. When you don't get enough sleep, your skin doesn't have a chance to kick into catabolysis -- the renewal mode that happens while you're sleeping. "This is when cells remove and recycle cell debris," says Yarosh. "It peaks at night while you're sleeping, and it's a natural process that's necessary for skin health." Think of it this way: if a tile in your bathroom floor cracks, you have to remove the broken tile, throw it away, and replace it with a new one. Similarly, free radicals can damage pieces of a skin cell, and your cell has to remove the damaged piece and repair it -- that's catabolysis.
And catabolysis is key for calming inflammation -- think: sunburn and puffiness. The Skin Study Center's research found that when the sleep-deprived women were sunburned, their skin stayed red for 72 hours -- two days more than the good sleepers. "Poor sleepers hold onto inflammation longer," says Baron.
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