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Disturbing images reveal the exact impact on your face if you don’t get enough sleep.

These shocking visuals highlight what happens if you fail to clock in seven hours of shut-eye.

We’re all well-versed with the advice about the importance of a good night’s sleep. The NHS recommends that adults should ideally get between seven and nine hours of sleep, although this can vary depending on personal circumstances.

The NHS also cautions that lack of sleep can result in decreased concentration, irritability, and behavioural issues. However, experts are now warning that it can significantly affect your appearance as well.

According to sleep-tech firm Simba, not getting enough sleep, especially over prolonged periods, can drastically change your looks. Less than seven hours can lead to effects such as reduced skin elasticity and fine lines.

The company carried out a survey on Britons’ sleep habits where men and women across the UK were asked whether they slept less or more than seven hours per night on average.

The NHS recommends this as the minimum amount for adults every night, reports Wales Online.

Participants were then questioned about the aesthetic condition of their faces. The sleep technology firm used AI (artificial intelligence) to create avatars based on the average national data.

A survey of 2000 adults revealed that over half (53.6 per cent) of Brits get less than seven hours of sleep. Women (57 per cent) and those over 55 (58 per cent) were found to be the most affected.

Woman with and without seven hours sleep.
Woman with and without seven hours sleep
(Image: Simba)

Women who slept beyond the NHS’s suggested sleep duration saw a significant improvement in their appearance, with fewer wrinkles, less saggy skin, and a reduced chance of looking tired and stressed.

The study also showed that women’s complexions benefited from 16 different improvements including:

  • Diminished under-eye bags
  • Rehydrated skin
  • Less pronounced crow’s feet
  • Mouth droopiness

For men, getting over seven hours of sleep led to positive changes across 12 facial aspects. They saw the best improvements in reducing their eye bags and scaly skin – as well as less of a tendency to look fatigued.

Lisa Artis, deputy CEO of The Sleep Charity, Simba’s partner organisation, stated: “Not getting enough sleep, especially over a long stretch of time, can harm both your mind and body, and even affect your skin, whatever your age. While genetics play a role in affecting our appearance as we get older, skimping regularly on sleep can make the situation even worse.”

Simba’s research highlights the impact of insufficient sleep on our appearance, particularly among different age groups, with younger adults feeling the effects of sleep deprivation on their skin more.

Sleep affect on appearance.
Too little sleep can have an effect on your appearance
(Image: Simba)

The survey, which involved 3,275 UK adults aged between 18 and 55, discovered that 45 per cent of participants have been scrimping on sleep in the past month. Consequently, 35 per cent reported experiencing one or more problems during this period.

Among those regularly getting less than seven hours of sleep per night, an average of 12 per cent reported dry flaky skin. This figure significantly jumps to 20 per cent among 18-24 year olds and 17 per cent in 25-34 year olds.

On the other hand, younger adults who manage more than seven hours of sleep see levels of dry skin decrease to 13 per cent in both 18-24 year olds and 25-34 year olds. Similarly, eye bags could be a noticeable issue in your skin after a poor night’s sleep if you’re aged between 18 and 24.

Almost one in three (29 per cent) of Gen Z respondents who routinely skimp on sleep suffer with this, compared to the 20 per cent average figure.

Dark circles were much higher than average in 35 to 44 year olds as a result of sacrificing regular rest. Eye bags also became one of the highest above-average issues in 45-54 year olds.

The survey revealed that 72 per cent of 25 to 34 year olds and 73 per cent of 35 to 44 year olds said fatigue was one of the main factors for them skimping on sleep. This was followed by stress in both age groups, with 55% of 25 to 34 year olds and 61 per cent of 35 to 44 year olds blaming this for their lack of sleep.

The woman on the top row gets seven hours sleep compared with the woman below who doesn't.
The woman on the top row gets seven hours sleep compared with the woman below who doesn’t
(Image: Simba)

In the 45 to 55 age bracket, a whopping 48 per cent cited fatigue as the main reason for their lack of shut-eye, with stress being a close second at 44 per cent.

Lisa explained: “At night, your skin does important work like renewing and repairing itself and making new cells. Sleep is like a recharge for your body-it helps with regeneration, repairs, and keeping your hormones in balance. So, a good night’s sleep is not just for feeling refreshed; it’s also crucial for your overall health and skin well-being.”

What can a lack of sleep do to your skin?

Lisa warns: “When it comes to your complexion, messing with this natural regenerative cycle means your body doesn’t get sufficient time to repair your skin nightly.”

“If you keep skipping sleep, it can speed up the appearance of premature signs of ageing.”

Lisa details what exactly can happen:

Fine lines and wrinkles

The expert said: “Collagen, a protein crucial for maintaining soft and smooth skin, gets produced when the body is in a relaxed state during the REM stage of sleep. Failing to reach this stage increases cortisol levels in the blood, causing harm to collagen and putting a stop to its production.”

Skin elasticity

Lisa added: “Not getting enough sleep can lead to a decline in the release of the growth hormone somatotropin. This hormone is essential for repairing damaged cells and keeping the skin elastic.”

Lack of sleep.
Lack of sleep can make a difference to how you look as you grow older
(Image: Simba)

Dark circles

The expert said: “In response to stress, the body directs blood flow to vital organs, notably the brain. Sleep deprivation increases blood flow to the brain, causing the veins under the skin around the eyes to swell, leading to a darkened appearance.”


Lisa noted: “The body interprets extreme fatigue as a low-level emergency. Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, typically released during emergencies, cause an excessive redirection of blood, oxygen, and nutrients away from your skin to prioritise major organs like the heart, brain, and kidneys. This elevation triggers changes in the oil glands, thickening the chemical composition of the oil and leading to pore blockage, which can result in unwanted pimples.”

Dullness of skin tone

Lisa suggested: “The reduction in blood flow due to insufficient sleep hampers cell turnover. The delay in delivering fresh cells to the epidermis means that old and damaged cells linger on the surface of your skin for a more extended period.”

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Eye puffiness

The expert noted: “Tired skin retains water around the eyes, a clear indicator of insufficient sleep. Sleep deprivation disrupts blood flow, leading to fluid buildup around the eyelids and orbits. The thin skin beneath the eyes, combined with inadequate collagen formation, results in darker discolouration and accentuates underlying blood vessels.”

Aggravated skin

A 2020 study examined the skin of women aged 40 who had only slept four hours a night for six nights, a common sleep pattern for many. Lisa said: “The study demonstrated that there was an increased skin aggravation with each additional night of inadequate sleep,”.

“The stress of sleeplessness often triggers an increase in cortisol, the fight-or-flight hormone. Elevated cortisol levels are linked to heightened sebaceous oil production, leading to issues like acne, oily or greasy hair, and increased skin fragility.”

When should I seek help for sleep issues?

Lisa suggests: “If you are experiencing insufficient sleep, it is crucial to evaluate your sleep patterns and identify areas for improvement in order to enhance your sleep quality. Additionally, seeking medical advice from a healthcare professional such as your GP, particularly if you are experiencing sleep deprivation persistently for a duration exceeding 12 weeks, is advisable.”

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