How Lack of Sleep Can Cause Acne

 Guest Blog By VeganAcneSufferers 

Does lack of sleep cause acne? Short answer, YES!

Just as we need food and water to live, we also need to get a good night’s sleep on the regular. And just like when we don’t eat or drink well, or properly, when we don’t get quality, adequate sleep it affects our mind and our body, as well as our skin. 

Having a good night’s sleep likely just as or even more important as exercising regularly and equally important as having a healthy diet. No amount of skincare can work if you aren’t getting enough sleep. Sleep is life! 

What Happens To Our Body When We’re Sleep Deprived?

Sleep deprivation can actually cause numerous mechanisms to go awry inside our bodies. For example, studies have shown that just a week of poor sleep habits can cause significant alterations in glucose tolerance; impaired glucose tolerance can make you more likely to develop things like diabetes, but they can also lead to acne, as our bodies pump out inflammation in response to insulin spikes.

Sleep deprivation can also affect our cortisol levels; while cortisol has its place by helping our bodies respond to stress so that we don’t become ill, people who don’t have a normal sleep/wake cycle can actually have cortisol levels that are high when they should be low, and low when they should be high. Getting only 4-5 hours of sleep a night can result in heightened cortisol levels in the evening that decrease six times slower in comparison to healthy subjects. These chronically-elevated levels of cortisol can result in inflammation in the body that negatively affects our skin and our overall health.

Why Does Sleep Deprivation Cause Acne

1. Sleep deprivation can increase the amount of inflammation in our bodies in another way. At night as we sleep, our bodies undergo changes that make for an environment that supports inflammation. When we get adequate sleep, however, this inflammatory state supports the immune system by enhancing the body’s ability to form an initial and long-term immune response. However, when we’re chronically sleep-deprived, the inflammatory state becomes unbalanced and only serves to impede immune function. This is sometimes why we become sick when we’ve been lacking sleep or why lack of sleep can cause acne.

Whenever we lack sleep, our whole body reacts to it, most especially our skin. Our skin may become red, oily and inflamed, including our back and chest. There are many reasons why sleep is important for our skin. A human body needs time to recover and heal for itself and the stress hormones are down at night when we get a good rest. These hormones that are responsible for calming the nervous system and allowing the natural healing of skin to work is called cortisol hormones.

2. Lacking the amount of sleep may cause us to feel too tired to make the effort to eat a healthy meal or exercise as we lack the energy or our blood circulation is stagnant. We may not even be able to enjoy the new source of nutrients our skin is getting, hence we get oily skin.

3. Lack of sleep causes us to crave for unhealthy foods such as junk foods, sugary foods and all those kinds that spike up our energy level.

So if you’re thinking of skimping on sleep to get a little extra work done, think again. Not only will your cognitive function likely suffer, leading to a lower quality of work being produced, but your skin is going to suffer immensely, as well.Sleeping late at night can affect your hormones, performance and brain function as well as increase weight, causing you to be at risk for getting health problems.  A better solution is to get a good night’s rest and tackle any work the following day. Your body and your skin will thank you tenfold.

When we are not able to sleep well, we may not eat well because our mind is not in the right state. Sleeping well enables us to wake up with a clear mind and more energy to come up with healthier decisions, which again is another reason why lack of sleep can cause acne.

Can lack of sleep cause hormonal acne

9 Tips To Get More Sleep

1. Stick to a schedule.

A person’s circadian rhythm functions on a set loop, aligning itself day and night. Sleeping irregularly and going to bed late on weekends impair one’s sleep quality, thus getting poor sleep.

Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even when you’re off – weekends, holidays, etc. When we are consistent with our sleep schedule, it helps to promote a better night’s rest. 

2. Don’t eat before bed.

It’s not a good idea to eat a lot too close to bedtime, as it can keep you awake.This includes late night snack as well. However, don’t go to bed starving, either, because you’ll toss and turn while you think about food. Eat a light carb-snack like apple slices with peanut butter or carrot sticks and hummus an hour before bed. 

if you are having a large meal, try to eat it at least 3 hours before bed for a good night’s sleep and to prevent indigestion or acid reflux. 

3. Drink less caffeine.

Whether it’s energy drinks, pop, or coffee, consuming too much caffeine during the day can affect your sleep/wake cycles, especially if you consume them close to bedtime. Opt for a low-caffeine tea, like green tea, instead. 

It is also important to remember that staying hydrated is key. Studies have found a connection between hydration and a restful night’s sleep. We recommend reaching for ahydrating collagen drink, likeVital Proteins Collagen Water, for a refreshingly skin-friendly way to up your H2O intake.

4. Create a routine.

If you have a hard time falling asleep even when you’re tired, getting into a special “bedtime routine” might help remind your body that it’s time to slow it down for the night. For me, this is preparing lunches for the next day, setting out my clothes, washing my face, putting my night guard in, etc. For others, it could be reading a book, taking a bath, etc.


Rolling down those window blinds can help you sleep, especially that it is dark in your room. Sleeping with the window blinds up will make you believe that you still need to be active even though you shouldn’t be.

An amount of daily sunlight or artificial bright light can help you improve your sleep quality and duration, especially with those who have cases ofinsomnia.

Read more  Does Lack of Sleep Cause Acne? Yes! Find Out Why


Alcohol consumption at night decreases the natural nighttime elevations in one’s human growth hormone (or HGH – which plays an important role in your circadian rhythm). Consuming alcohol can also alter the production of melatonin and can cause increased symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring and disrupted sleeping patterns.


Don’t you know that your body and bedroom temperature can also affect your quality sleep? According to one study, the bedroom temperature is said to affect our sleep quality aside from the external noise. Excessive warmth or coolness of temperature is not good for our sleep quality.


Although exercise may seem like a good idea, performing it late at night can also pose some problems to your sleep. A study shows that due to the stimulatory response or effects of exercise, our alertness and hormones like epinephrine and adrenaline increases, making it hard for us to sleep when we exercise too late in the day. However, this still clearly depends on an individual.

9. Do A Relaxation Routine Before Bed

Planning a pre-sleep routine is also good in having better quality sleep.

Some relaxation techniques or strategies include having a relaxing massage, listening to relaxing music, reading a book, taking a hot bath, meditating, deep breathing and visualization.

Lack of sleep can cause acne and will make your acne worse. If you don’t get your sleep you can eat the perfect diet and live the healthiest life but still not a guarantee to achieve clear skin. Sleep is a crucial piece of the puzzle. So make sure you get your sleep, but not too much. Sleeping too much has its own downsides. To be healthy and cure acne you need the right amount of sleep.

Nearly everyone has an occasional sleepless night — but if you often have trouble sleeping, contact your doctor. Identifying and treating any underlying causes can help you get the better sleep you deserve.

Get a good night’s sleep! 



— Update: 01-01-2023 — found an additional article Does Lack of Sleep Cause Acne? Yes! Find Out Why from the website for the keyword can lack of sleep cause hormonal acne.

If you’ve noticed an increase in acne while also getting less sleep than you should, it’s most likely not a coincidence.

Inadequate sleep can cause cortisol levels to rise, causing oil to build on the skin, plugging tiny pores, and eventually infecting them.

This infection causes a small pus-filled bump, also known as a pimple. Acne, especially acne caused by a lack of sleep, can be treated relatively easily at home if you are otherwise healthy.

If you take action to get your sleep schedule back on track now, you’ll likely see acne start to vanish in less than a week. 

Check out this graphic below summarizing this issue:

5 Ways Lack of Sleep Causes Acne 

1: Increases Hormone Level 

When you don’t get enough sleep at night and wake up before you’re fully rested, you’ll feel foggy-headed, heavy, and tense. This is caused by an increase in cortisol levels in your blood. 

Cortisol is a stress hormone that causes your sebaceous glands to oversecrete oil on your face. When excessive oil builds up on the skin, it clogs the pores and follicles. 

These clogged pores harbor harmful bacteria that cause acne on your face. 

As a result, the most important times to cleanse the face area are in the morning, after exercise, and before bed.

2: Increases Depression and Anxiety 

Sleep deprivation disrupts not only your body’s hormones but also the chemicals in your brain. Anxiety and depression can be induced by a lack of sleep. 

They are the two most common mental health conditions that cause your body to produce inflammatory responses. 

When your body’s inflammatory response is activated, it can weaken the barrier function of your skin. 

If your skin’s barrier function is weak, it will easily become infected as it is exposed to dust, bacteria, and sunlight throughout the day. 

These harmful foreign objects will become trapped inside your skin’s pores, causing acne to form on your face.

3: Weak Immune System 

I know it’s difficult to believe that not getting enough sleep can have disastrous consequences. However, inadequate sleep can weaken your immune system.

Our immune system protects our internal organs and helps defend the skin against germs and microbes. 

If our defense mechanism is inefficient, tiny dust particles and microbes will begin to accumulate in the skin’s hair follicles. 

Swelling and skin breakouts will result as a result of this. Sooner or later, pimples may appear. Getting enough sleep boosts the immune system and protects your skin from infections.

4: More Skin Breakouts and Dullness 

Skin dehydration disrupts your skin’s natural moisture balance. It can cause your skin to become extremely dry and rough, which is why a good facial moisturizer is essential. 

When we sleep, our bodies perspire, which helps to rebalance the hydration level in our skin. This demonstrates that our skin goes through a hydration process. 

We miss out on the opportunity to replenish our skin with moisture when we don’t get enough sleep. As a consequence, the skin becomes more prone to irritation and dryness. 

When the skin is dry, the sebum gland overworks to compensate for the lack of oil, resulting in excess oil and, eventually, acne on the face.

5: Disturbs Your Daily Routine 

Sleep is the most important aspect of our lives. In fact, we spend nearly half our lives snoozing. 

Not getting enough sleep not only disrupts our physical activities, but it also has an impact on our daily routine. Every day, our skin requires proper attention and care. 

When you don’t have a good daily skincare routine, your skin becomes more sensitive and acne-prone.

As a result, even minor disruptions in your sleep can result in a slew of pimples.

3 Ways to Combat Acne Caused by Irregular Sleep

1: Get Proper Sleep (Common Sense)

The easiest solution to your problem is simply to get enough sleep. It’s not that difficult. We should manage sleep in the same way we manage other aspects of our daily lives. 

Some people, no matter how hard they try, are unable to sleep properly. 

If you’re overly stressed and unable to sleep, as a result, try to relax first. To keep your nerves under control, try meditation or low-intensity exercise

If, on the other hand, you find yourself unable to sleep properly due to a heavy workload, learn to manage your workload and set time aside for rest.

2: Eat A Healthy, Low-Inflammation Diet

The second solution is also very simple and straightforward. Try to eat healthier if you want to fight acne. Eating healthy has numerous skin benefits. 

First and foremost, a full stomach will help in getting a good night’s sleep. Second, fruits and vegetables are rich in minerals and vitamins. 

They help to boost our immune systems and keep us healthy. They hydrate and nourish our skin while also protecting it from dehydration. 

For glowing skin, consume juicy fruits such as watermelon, orange, peach, and apricot. To meet your mineral requirements, eat raw or cooked vegetables. 

Read this article on diets that are friendly for acne-prone individuals.

3: Consult a Dermatologist 

You’ve already secured the first measure toward better and healthier skin if you’ve started sleeping properly and stopped eating junk and unhealthy foods. 

However, some acne can be stubborn, taking more time to heal and remove from your skin. In that circumstance, you should inquire for guidance from a dermatologist. 

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Dermatologists, also known as skin doctors, specialize in the treatment of skin problems. The doctor will prescribe you oral medications and ointments based on your skin condition. 

After a one-month break, you may need to schedule three to four consultations. Lasers and dermabrasions are two other treatment options. All of these treatments have pros and cons.

Finding a good and dependable dermatologist is not as difficult as it may seem.

Frequently Asked Questions 


Sleep deprivation leads to an unhealthy lifestyle and a cycle of ongoing health issues such as depression, anxiety, and a disrupted hormonal level, which promotes acne production. 

Sleep deprivation also weakens our immune system. And an unhealthy body, unable to defend itself against harmful bacteria, is more prone to acne. 

Make an attempt to adhere to a sleep program. Set the alarm not only for the morning but also for bedtime. 

Along with that, try to eat healthily, drink more water, reduce stress, and exercise regularly. All of this will help you sleep better and lower your chance of developing acne.

— Update: 01-01-2023 — found an additional article Does Sleeping Late Cause Acne (10 Thing You Can Do to Improve) from the website for the keyword can lack of sleep cause hormonal acne.

Do you have a habit of sleeping late? If so, it turns out that this might be the reason you are breaking out.

Acne is a common, inflammatory skin disease that develops when hair follicles become clogged with dead cells and oil from the skin.

While this is a genetic condition for many people, there are things you can do to prevent it from getting worse. And getting enough sleep is one of them.

But it’s not the only reason your skin is acting up.

In this article, we will discuss if sleep habits can cause acne and what to do about it.

We will also give examples of how people’s lifestyles affect their skin health and review some products that can help improve your complexion!

How Sleeping Late Causes Acne

Increased oil production, hormonal fluctuations, heredity, an overly active sebaceous gland (oil gland), bacteria on the skin causes acne.

The breakouts are typically triggered by stress and worsened by having oily hair or wearing makeup. There are several home remedies for acne. And it’s not only about what you put on your skin; what goes in your mouth also affects your complexion.

Foods that increase chance of developing acne include dairy, fake sugars like aspartame and sucralose, processed food containing nitrates or nitrites that create nitrosamines, beef hormones found in meat that process into creatine that has been shown to increase problematic pimples under experimental conditions.

It is important to note that most of these ingredients can be found in organic foods. However, some people may not experience the same side effects by eating them; everyone’s body chemistry is unique.

Even though many factors play a role in acne development, lack of sleep makes it worse because your skin gets inflamed when you are tired.

When people are fatigued, their bodies produce more cortisol, which affects the production of insulin and other hormones that impact your complexion for the worse.

There is also some evidence suggesting that not enough sleep increases testosterone in women, leading to more breakouts on the chin area of the face, next to where men typically develop acne, too.

Another effect of poor sleep is the excess secretion of oil by the sebaceous glands. The oil clogs pores and leads to breakouts. Therefore, you should aim for at least seven hours of sleep every night in order to keep your skin clear.

Stress is another cause for acne. And stress is also a cause for poor sleep.

When you are stressed, your body releases cortisol that tells the sebaceous glands to produce more oil. Plus, cortisol makes it harder for us to fall asleep.

How Can You Treat Sleep-Related Acne?

There are several steps you can take in order to avoid this type of acne:

You should cleanse your skin thoroughly before you go to sleep so that any excess oil is removed.

It’s also important to use a gentle cleanser and avoid too much scrubbing or harsh exfoliating because this can irritate the skin even more.

You should take cool showers at night in order to close your pores, which will prevent them from getting clogged with excess oil.

Many people with acne scratch and pop their zits in the morning, but this is a bad idea. It will only worsen the situation by increasing inflammation and dead skin cells in that area of your face (which can lead to scarring)

Don’t use too many skincare products before you sleep because they will block the pores and make it harder for your skin to breathe at night. Also, avoid applying makeup during the day if possible.

Finally, consider taking a probiotic supplement in order to improve gut health, which can help keep breakouts under control.

There are several supplements that can help you out with skin issues like acne. You should then if your sleep is not enough to keep skin clear.

While this article focuses on the connection between poor sleep and various skin conditions, there are other factors which play a role in how healthy (or unhealthy) our complexions are: diet, stress, exercise.

Overall, it’s important to have a balanced lifestyle in order to maintain unblemished skin and good sleep patterns. If this isn’t possible or effective enough, there are other ways to prevent acne from showing up.

For example, you may try using an oil-free moisturizer with salicylic acid after washing your face in the morning and at night before going to bed. This ingredient is very effective for people who have oily skin because it helps get rid of excess sebum by penetrating deep into pores!

You could also incorporate the use of a face mask. These are great for reducing acne because they can get rid of dirt and other impurities that may cause your skin to break out. With regular use, you will start seeing an improvement in your complexion.

Sleeping Late Causes Acne: How to Improve

We spend about a third of our life sleeping. Yet, we don’t put enough effort into making sure our sleep is of excellent quality.

Since sleep and acne are intertwined, it’s important to ensure we get plenty of sleep at night.

Our lifestyle heavily affects our sleep. If we have a stressful lifestyle, it’s going to be harder for us to sleep because our body is too active. If this continues over time, the lack of sleep will cause acne and other skin conditions as well.

Getting high-quality sleep isn’t difficult. It’s a matter of creating good habits and sticking to them.

Here’s a list of what you should do.

1. Eat a healthy diet

Ever heard the saying “you are what you eat”? It’s very accurate. Eating lots of unhealthy foods causes us to be unhealthy.

When you eat fast food or drink alcohol, your skin will show the effects of it. Fatty foods are bad for acne because they cause our bodies to produce excess sebum, which clogs pores and leads to breakouts. The same applies when we consume too much dairy products or sugar.

And food affects our sleep as well. We won’t be able to sleep well if we eat too much right before going to bed.

That’s why you should always avoid eating fast food, junk food and other unhealthy options at night. Instead, make sure your diet comprises vegetables, fruits, protein (meat or fish) and healthy fats like olive oil or coconut/avocado oil.

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2. Exercise regularly

Did you know that lack of physical activity is one of the major causes of obesity?

When we are sedentary, our body isn’t capable of burning off excess fat. If this process continues over time, it will lead to weight gain and many other health problems, including acne.

Our bodies need to move in order for us to function properly. If we aren’t active enough, many health problems can occur–and acne is one of them.

3. Avoid caffeine after lunchtime

Caffeine is great. It boosts our productivity, helps us lose weight and makes us more alert.

But caffeine is also very addictive, so you have to be careful with your consumption of it. If not, you might end up having withdrawal symptoms like fatigue, irritability or even dark circles under the eyes.

And caffeine blocks our brain from producing Adenosine which is a sleep-inducing hormone. If you drink coffee, tea or soda drinks with caffeine late, there’s no way you’re going to be able to fall asleep at night.

4. Naps Are Ok, but Only before 5 PM

If you struggle to fall asleep at night, an afternoon nap could be a brilliant solution for you. Studies show that taking a 60-minute nap in the early part of our day helps us to feel more rested, and it also improves our cognitive abilities.

If you want to take a nap, try not too late because this will affect your sleep at night as well (and that’s the opposite of what we aim for).

5. Create a Bedtime Routine

You should treat your bed as a sacred place. And by this, I mean you shouldn’t use it to watch TV or drink alcohol because these activities will affect the quality of your sleep.

Instead, create a soothing nighttime routine which includes reading books and calming music before going to bed. You can also meditate or do some light stretching.

When you do this, your brain will associate the bed with sleep, which will make it easier for you to fall asleep at night.

You should avoid sleeping in on weekends since it will affect your regular sleep cycle and cause insomnia if done too often. Our body’s internal clock likes regularity.

6. Keep your bedroom dark and cold

We spend about a third of our life sleeping–so it makes sense that we want our bedroom to be ideal for sleeping.

One of the most important factors is darkness. If you have a bedroom with too much light, it will be harder for you to fall asleep at night because your body will still think that it’s day time.

The best thing would be to use thick blinds or curtains on your windows so no external light can enter our room. And if you live in a city with too much light pollution, try buying blackout curtains so that your room is pitch black when it’s nighttime.

The second thing to remember about your bedroom is the temperature.

The ideal temperature would be slightly below body temperature (around 18-20 Celsius). If it’s too hot or too cold, it will be harder for us to sleep well.

These are the simple things that you should do if you want to have a better night’s rest and avoid acne.

7. Limit your alcohol consumption

Alcohol disturbs sleep. How? It blocks Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, which is the stage where we dream and actually have deep slept.

If you have a glass of wine or beer before going to bed, there’s no way that you’re going to dream–and your brain won’t get all it needs from sleeping.

Drinking alcohol can also upset our stomachs and cause acid reflux, which is the last thing we want before going to sleep.

8. Limit Screen Time Before Bed

Screens emit blue light, which is a wavelength that stimulates our brains and makes it difficult for us to fall asleep. This is because our brain will think it’s still daytime because of these blue lights.

So, if we make sleeping at night as important as eating healthy food or exercising regularly (which you should), then there’s no way we can spend hours in front of the TV before going to bed.

9. Take a warm bath

Warm bath before bed will make us more relaxed, which will help our bodies to release stress hormones.

This is great for preparing for sleep at night because it helps you feel drowsy and ready for bedtime. It’s especially good if your body feels tense or sore after exercising or sitting in front of the computer all day long!

10. Put away all Worries and Problems before Bed

We all have those nights where we keep turning in bed and thinking about an issue plaguing our lives. Looking for solutions. And… not sleeping.

This is actually a massive problem for some people. They can’t enjoy a restful sleep because their brains go into overdrive and refuse to stop.

The best way to deal with this issue is to write down everything that’s stressing you out. This will let you unload your thoughts from the brain onto the paper. You should also write important things you don’t want to forget about, and make a to-do list for the upcoming day.

Sleep Medications: A Temporary Fix

It’s important to be mindful of your sleeping habits in relation to acne. For instance, if you sleep too late into the night, then that will cause acne by disrupting your circadian rhythm.

If you’re struggling with insomnia or poor sleep quality, then it’s worth considering taking medication. Research has also shown that certain medications may be useful for people with acne, including benzoyl peroxide and retinoids.

But medications come with their own issues. For instance, benzoyl peroxide can cause dryness and peeling skin. Retinoids irritate the skin, which will lead to redness or breakouts.

Plus, your body eventually gets used to them, which means going back to sleep without taking medications will become a challenge.

In case you are wondering which medications can be taken in order to improve your sleep, here is the list of options:

  • Benzodiazepines or Z-drugs (temazepam, triazolam) – this help reduce stress and anxiety so that it’s easier for us to fall asleep. They work well but may cause side effects like irritability, drowsiness and memory loss.
  • Barbiturates (phenobarbital) – these are effective as well but may be highly addictive, so it should only take them for a short period.
  • Non-benzodiazepines (eszopiclone, zaleplon) – these have fewer side effects than the ones mentioned above.

Besides medications, you may consider acupuncture or herbal supplements.


Sleep is the most important activity we do in our lives, and it affects our wellbeing. This includes our skin’s health. Skin is our biggest organ, so if we don’t sleep well, it’s going to show on our faces.

Sleeping less than seven hours a night is bad for your skin. However, the opposite isn’t true–getting more sleep won’t make acne go away.

This is because acne results from various factors. Poor sleep is one of the main ones, but poor diet and stress also affect our skin’s health.

What’s great is that these factors are intertwined. Which is also the worst part about the problem. If your life is stressful, you are more likely to eat junk food, which makes it more likely you sleep poorly.

Skin medications can help deal with the problem temporarily. But they get expensive in the long run, and acne is annoying to deal with 24/7. It’s best to address its root causes.


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About the Author: Tung Chi