Cortisol, on the other hand, breaks down our skin. “Cortisol plays a significant role in our collagen and elastin. So those supportive tissues in the skin really give us that supple youthful appearance,” she says. “Well, cortisol breaks those tissues down, so you’ll see accelerated fine lines and wrinkling. But the other thing is that it also impairs repair.”
So by skipping out on sleep—deep, restful sleep—not only are you limiting your body’s ability to release a hormone that can repair and heal your skin, your body is more likely to increase cortisol levels (lack of sleep makes us stressed), and this will actively break down skin.
“If I can even just appeal to your vanity: if you don’t respect your body’s natural rhythm with cortisol and melatonin, they will wreak havoc,” says Barr.