It seems safe to assume that a beautiful, sparkling skin is everybody’s delight, given the much attention people pay to the maintenance of their skin. Not only is it a good indication of a healthy living, some people also flaunt it as a thing of pride.
It is common to see people buy expensive body creams, while some mix like two or three, for a better result, and the more expensive the creams are, the better for them. For some, the kind of food they eat and the weather they are exposed to play a major role. Perhaps, all these are fantastic ways of nurturing the skin.
But it is equally interesting to note that beyond following these fashion rules, basic things like sleep and the volume of sugar intake make a lot of difference in skin’s outlook. And for people who are married, good and regular sex make a lot of difference too.
Starting with sleep, which is an activity that is engaged in by every living being, at different proportions though, studies have shown clearly that inadequate sleep is a precursor for ageing skin. In other words, the quality of a person’s sleep influences the person’s skin functions, rate of ageing and facial appearance.
A study led by a dermatologist, Prof. Elma Baron, who is the Director of the Skin Study Centre at UH Case Medical Centre, United States, shows that the quality of sleep is crucial to the growth and renewal of the body’s immune and physiological systems, thus, it has an impact on skin function and appearance. The result of the study was posted on Science Daily.
In the study, titled ‘Effects of sleep quality on skin ageing and function, she explained that the skin protects the internal system from external “stressors like toxins and sun-induced DNA damage,” thus, it plays a crucial role in the overall well-being of people because it is like the shield for the internal organs.
Baron said, “Our study is the first to conclusively demonstrate that inadequate sleep is correlated with reduced skin health and accelerates skin ageing. Insufficient sleep has become a worldwide epidemic. While chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to medical problems such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and immune deficiency, its effects on skin function have previously been unknown.”
Half of the 60 women involved in the study were in the poor quality sleep category while the other half were in the good quality sleep category. The researchers used the average duration of sleep, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, questionnaire given to the participants to fill their weekly duration of sleep, visual skin assessment and some other tests, including ultraviolet skin exposure, to assess the difference between those who had good quality sleep and those who had poor quality sleep.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that women who had poor quality sleep showed signs of “premature skin ageing and a decrease in their skin’s ability to recover after sun exposure.”
Baron added, “Using the SCINEXA skin ageing scoring system, poor quality sleepers showed increased signs of intrinsic skin ageing including fine lines, uneven pigmentation and slackening of skin and reduced elasticity. In this system, a higher score means a more aged appearance. The average score in the good quality sleepers was 2.2 versus 4.4 in poor quality sleepers.”
Apart from the fact that people who had good quality sleep recorded better self perception of attractiveness and a more effective barrier against moisture loss than those who had poor quality sleep, the study also showed that people who had good quality sleep tend to recover faster (30 per cent) and “more efficiently” from sunburn (reddening, inflammation, and, in severe cases, blistering and peeling of the skin caused by overexposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun) and other stressors to the skin than those who had poor quality skin (14 per cent).
“This research shows for the first time, that poor sleep quality can accelerate signs of skin ageing and weaken the skin’s ability to repair itself at night,” another researcher, Dr. Daniel Yarosh, added.
This implies that people who crave good skin should ensure they have better sleep.
Meanwhile, findings have also shown that beyond the havoc excessive sugar intake does to the waist and the heart, it also takes its toll on the skin, as it has been found to speed up skin ageing. Sugar in this case includes sweet and sugary drinks, snacks and food items. Impliedly, paying close attention to one’s diet is crucial to having a healthy skin.
A nutritionist, Sarah West, in her post on Mail Online, said excessive consumption of sugar could affect the quality of the skin by facilitating the degradation of elastin and collagen; the two important proteins that help the skin to stay smooth and wrinkle-free.
She said, “When sugar enters the body, it causes a spike in insulin levels, which causes inflammation below the skin. This process can weaken collagen and elastin and accelerate the ageing of the skin – leaving it less supple and more prone to wrinkles.
“So forget the expensive lotions and potions: one of the easiest and cheapest ways to turn back the clock is to cut down on the amount of sugar in your diet.”
Some other experts and nutritionists also agree that high sugar intake and exposure to ultraviolet light could speed up ageing.
While these measures are very useful for all, married couples seem to have an advantage, and that is in terms of sex. Studies have shown that sex has many health benefits, including its ability to boost the immune system, lower blood pressure and risk of heart attack, reduce the likelihood of prostate cancer in men and a good form of exercise.
But beyond these, scientists have found that sex can make people look younger. A British clinical neuropsychologist, Dr. David Weeks, said one of the good and effective ways for married couples to have sparkling skin and youthful look is for them to have sex at least thrice a week, saying that would boost their blood circulation and slow down ageing, among other benefits.
He said, “Sex is an excellent aerobic exercise that promotes skin renewal because it raises the heart beat and pumps oxygen around the body which improves the immune system, boosts circulation and keeps you lean. And the pleasure from the act is a crucial factor in preserving youthfulness.”
In his post on Mail Online, he said people who have casual sex or those who are promiscuous may not enjoy this benefit that comes with sex because healthy sexual relationship combines physical and psychological ties, and that loyalty is part and parcel of a fulfilling sex life.
It has also been found that the estrogen released from the activity increases the elasticity of the skin and reduces skin dryness.
A dermatologist and psychiatrist, Dr. Amy Wechsler, in her own view, said, “We are constantly damaging and repairing our skin and you want to tip the scale more towards repair. When you have sex, you are bathing the skin in anti-inflammatory molecules such as oxytocin and beta endorphins. As we get older, we don’t heal as often as we repair. But having sex can turn the clock back on that.” (Punchng.com)