Can You Guess What's Worse, Drinking Too Much Alcohol Or Not Sleeping Enough?

July 13, 2015 by Lisa Fogarty
shefinds | beauty

If you want to ensure you look like hell in the morning, here’s the one surefire way to do so: stay up all night and drink a lot. But have you ever wondered which is truly worse, the lack of sleep or the overindulgence? I mean, if you had to pick the lesser of two evils, which bad habit really does a number on your health and physical appearance? Well, lucky for you, we got the answer.

Sleepless Nights

Aside from stripping us of energy and the will to work, work-out, have sex–basically, do anything except eat and drink (sometimes a lot more than usual), sleepless nights can contribute to weight gain and rapid aging, says Dr. Trevor Cates, naturopathic doctor and skin expert known as “The Spa Dr.”

“When we sleep, our cortisol levels are low and we release Growth Hormone (GH). Cortisol hormone comes from the adrenal glands and are released during times of stress,” Cates says. “Chronic levels of High cortisol are associated with excess belly fat and premature aging, so anything we can do to keep cortisol levels in check (such as a good night’s sleep) is important. Growth hormones helps us grow when we’re young. As adults, GH helps us maintain our lean body mass so we look fit and trim as we age. If we don’t get enough sleep, then we don’t have a chance to make GH.”

Dr. David E. Bank, founder and director of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery, calls lack  of sleep a “beauty burglar.”

“If you don’t get your full ’40 winks,’ you’ll pay the price for it with a droopy-looking face,” Bank says. Why? “As your systems try to shut down, muscles become fatigued, and the face begins to sag and droop. Your skin can also take a sallow appearance, as your pulse and blood pressure drop, causing less blood pump into the face which is an indication that you’re not getting enough sleep.”

Too Much Alcohol

You mean in addition to accidentally texting your ex? Alcohol can, again, contribute to the two beauty no-no’s we dread most: aging and excess weigh gain. “Alcohol is high in sugar and is dehydrating,” Cates says. “We know that high sugar levels can lead to obesity and changes in elastin and collagen in the skin that can accelerate skin aging (fine lines and wrinkles). Also, since it’s dehydrating, it dehydrates the cells in our skin and lead to dry and more mature looking skin.”

While a little alcohol, in moderation, such as a few drinks a week is okay for most people, Cates cautions against adding sodas and other sugary beverages to your diet on top of alcohol.

“Alcohol does a number on our skin,” adds Bank. “First, the blood vessels dilate, which creates more broken blood vessels (the reason real drinkers often have red, bloodshot eyes). Second, drinking too much can make you retain water because the blood vessels become so dilated, the heart pumps more fluid into the surrounding tissues which makes you look and feel bloated. Drinking alcoholic beverages in excess can manifest itself in a sallow complexion, a puffy face and red eyes because alcohol dehydrates your skin and causes the blood vessels to dilate which creates puffiness under the eyelids and a generally puffy appearance. It can also worsen a rosacea condition. Some other affects alcohol has is that it can lower your resting muscle tone which can make your face look withdrawn; it can increase leakage of the blood vessels and capillaries, especially under the eyes, leading to puffiness of the lower eyelids; it can decrease the absorption of vitamins, and it can depress the immune system –which can affect the body’s ability to fight off any low level acne-type of bacterial infections.”

Which Is Worst?

Too much alcohol will certainly hurt your health and can, of course, lead to physical, social, and emotional problems that are worse than a few wrinkles, but of the two getting enough sleep is the most critical to your appearance and health. “Sleep deprivation is worse than drinking alcohol in moderation,” Cates says. “We need seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, but most people don’t get that or have poor quality of sleep, and it can dramatically impact their health and appearance.”

For more beauty tips, check out how to prevent goosebumps right after you shave your legs and how to tell if your love of tanning is actually an addiction.





Lisa Fogarty is a lifestyle writer and reporter based in New York who covers health, wellness, relationships, sex, beauty, and parenting.

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