Why Do You Heal Faster When You Sleep?

Perhaps more than ever before, we live in a world where a natural sleep rhythm is an almost unattainable luxury. How many people still wake with the sunrise rather than the alarm clock? How many people still drift off when they’re tired, without the distraction of bright screens keeping them up late into the night?

In such a world, it’s always worth revisiting the numerous benefits of a good night’s rest. In this post we’ll look specifically at the relationship between sleep and wound healing, and answer the question: why is it so important to get proper sleep when you’re recovering from cosmetic surgery?

What Happens When We Sleep?

Assume that you regularly sleep 7–8 hours per night (the amount recommended for adults), and that your sleep is high-quality and free from disruptive influences, such as bright lights and traffic noise. If this is the case, your body’s normal wound-healing process will function as it should. Your sleeping brain will appropriately regulate your stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, and trigger the release of other hormones that promote tissue growth. Additionally, while you sleep, the capillaries that carry nutrient-rich blood to the site of the wound can develop freely into extensive networks—meaning that the new cells are well-served with oxygen, water and other ingredients essential to their growth.

If you don’t sleep adequately, all of these processes are thrown out of whack. For one thing, your stress hormones may soar. This not only interferes with the healing process, but also affects the health of your skin in general—which is one of the reasons why your skin tends to look worse when you’re sleep-deprived. Besides this, the hormones partly responsible for tissue regrowth are prevented from doing their job properly. Also, the capillaries that play such an important role in healing aren’t able to develop to the same extent.

Are There Any Other Benefits?

If you’re still not convinced, there are plenty of other compelling reasons to make good sleep your top priority. Not only will your brain function more effectively and retain more information, but you’ll also experience improvements to your bones, heart, liver, and immune system. (The strength of the latter will reduce the chances of post-surgery wound infection). Even more noticeable will be the improvements to your energy levels and overall appearance.

Many of us have to rise early in the morning whether we like it or not, so perhaps the best way to guarantee a good sleep is to force yourself to disconnect from technology at least half an hour before you’d like to fall asleep. Limit light exposure before bed, and make sure your bedroom is uncluttered and quiet. Avoid stimulants such as coffee in the evenings if possible, and don’t bring your laptop or phone to bed with you. Manage to get a strong sleep schedule, and you’ll be on the road to recovery in no time.

Dr. Siegel is an experienced facial plastic surgeon based in Houston. To find out more about the procedures he offers—or if you’d like more advice about speedy recovery—make an appointment with him today!

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