The circadian rhythms control biological processes that repeat themselves within a 24-hour period. Your sleep cycle and the timing of your meals are two good (and familiar) examples. Your circadian rhythms respond to your daily habits in an attempt to keep your body in tune with your schedule. Consequently, changes in your circadian rhythms can affect all kinds of things, including your skin.
Changes in your habits or inconsistent habits can throw off your circadian rhythms. Think about how you feel after traveling through several time zones or after you’ve spent the weekend staying up late but then try to get up at your regular time on Monday morning. That tired, slow feeling is, in part, due to circadian rhythm issues. Problems with your circadian rhythms go beyond your sleep and eating schedule. They can set you up for skin problems that range from annoying acne to increasing the risk of skin cancer.
What are circadian rhythms?
Your body runs on a 24-hour clock or cycle that is controlled by your circadian rhythms. Your brain gets cues from your environment to keep those rhythms on track.
Blue light from the sun is one of the biggest influences because it suppresses hormones like melatonin, which control the sleep cycle. However, your habits, like when you go to bed and wake up also influence your rhythms. Circadian rhythms keep hormone levels balanced, and your hormones are the chemical messengers that control your biological functions. When things get off, you’ll feel and see it in places you don’t expect, like your skin.
How do circadian rhythms affect your skin?
Healthy circadian rhythms help you feel sleepy when it’s dark and awake when it’s light. Their influence on your health, however, goes much deeper. Your circadian rhythms affect your skin temperature, blood flow to the skin, and the ability to heal from daily UV damage. Circadian rhythms can also impact skin hydration and the genetic factors that contribute to the development of skin cancer.
How to improve your skin by supporting your circadian rhythms
Healthy skin needs strong circadian rhythms to get adequate rest, heal, and maintain its natural moisture. And they need your support to keep you feeling and looking your best.
Consistently get enough sleep
You need seven to nine hours of sleep every night. The average adult, however, tends to get far less. Put sleep at the top of your priority list. To make sure you get enough, factor in the time it takes to go through your bedtime routine and an extra 15 to 20 minutes to fall asleep to make sure there’s time for you to get the rest you need.
Prepare your body with a bedtime routine
Bedtime routines are as important for grownups as they are for kids because they prepare the body for sleep. Your brain is designed to recognize patterns. A bedtime routine where each activity is done around the same time and in the same order is like a traffic sign telling your brain what to do. They make it easier for you to unwind and fall asleep.
Include anything that helps you relax. For many people, that’s a nighttime skincare routine. Use a gentle cleanser, like Total Facial Cleansing Gel, that doesn’t require harsh scrubbing and doesn’t strip your skin of its natural moisture. Then, give it a nighttime moisture boost with a skin hydrator and brightener like Baobab Skin Correction Facial Cream or a heavy dose of moisture with Ultra Rich Biolipd Cream. The key with any routine, including your skincare and bedtime routines, is to be consistent—same time, same order.
Go to bed at the same time
As hard as it is, you’ll see helpful sleep benefits by going to bed at the same time every day. Your brain will recognize the pattern and start the release of sleep hormones at the correct time.
Get up at the same time
Your wake-up time should be as consistent as your bedtime. Try to keep it the same on weekends to prevent a sluggish Monday morning.
Eat your meals at regular times
Try to eat your meals around the same time each day. Meal timing helps your brain recognize your daily patterns. It influences your sleep and your skin health because of the interconnectedness of circadian rhythms. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants in the afternoon and evening because they interfere with the release of sleep hormones.
Pre-adjust your sleep schedule when you travel
Circadian rhythm disruptions are sometimes unavoidable, like when you travel. There are a few ways to support circadian rhythm while on the road.
- Start adjusting your bedtime a few days in advance. Either go to bed a few minutes earlier or later, slowly adjusting your schedule to make the one you’ll keep at your destination.
- Adjust your meal times to be closer to when you’ll eat while at your travel destination.
- Use the same bedtime routine that you do at home.
Consistency is your friend
Supporting your circadian rhythms can pay dividends for the appearance and health of your skin. Be consistent. The more consistent you are, the better your body will be able to adapt. Your skin will thank you.