About the author: Lauren Krowl graduated from the University of Colorado where she studied Integrative Physiology. She has worked on a variety of research projects including the Human Behavior Project at CU and clinical trials at Coram Specialty Infusion. She is currently a second-year medical student aspiring to specialize in dermatology. Lauren enjoys hiking, snowboarding, playing tennis, and motivating people to embrace a healthy lifestyle by being active and choosing nutrient-dense foods.
Mom was right, again. Remember how she told you that if you don’t get your sleep you’re going to get raccoon eyes and age faster than any US president? Maybe she was exaggerating a bit, however, researchers at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) have discovered a link between sleep and the regenerative capacity of skin stem cells. More specifically, the Epithelial Homeostasis and Cancer group at CRG found that the internal biological clock, also known as the circadian rhythm, regulates the activities of the skin stem cells. In this synopsis of the study, researchers maintain that the internal biological clock is imperative in dictating skin stem cells to protect themselves when sunlight peaks during the day and divide to renew damaged cells during the night. This system allows for the body to keep DNA damage to a minimum and regenerative capacities to a maximum.
The circadian rhythm schedules our sleep wake cycle according to the exposure of light and dark throughout a 24-hour cycle. This innate mechanism for minimizing DNA damage to skin cells becomes less accurate as we age and subject ourselves to nuisances such as jet lag. Here are few tips to refining your sleep habits:
- Attempt to go to sleep the same time every night in order to keep the internal biological clock in sync.
- Sleep in a slightly cold room (60-68° F). This has been found to be the optimal temperature for efficient sleep.
- If jet lag is something you can’t avoid, try correcting your sleep with a portable blue light. The device is normally used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder, however, many frequent flyers have had success in adjusting their internal clocks by exposing themselves to the light upon wakening at the desired hour.