Is Your Acne Messing With Your Sleep?

Sleep is crucial for our physical and mental well-being. Not only does sleep deprivation reduce our alertness and ability to focus, but it has also been linked to inflammatory skin disorders, a study in the journal Clocks & Sleep shows. Lack of sleep can debilitate our body's defense mechanism which shields the skin from bacteria. It can also mess with hormone levels, causing sebaceous glands to produce more oil and eventually blocking pores.


The relationship between sleep and acne has been discussed by many dermatologists over the years, with poor sleep quality often being pinpointed as the cause of acne. However, a 2022 study described by Dermatology Times reveals that this association can go both ways.

Instead of being the result of sleep deprivation, acne can be the cause of poor sleep quality, the study says. In other words, acne might make it harder for you to sleep, and a bad night's sleep can worsen your acne.

While this theory about the link between acne and sleep leaves much to discussion, it's worth looking into. Here's what experts have to say about the reciprocal relationship between acne and poor sleep.

More research needs to be done

Dermatologist Dr. Heather D. Rogers tells Allure that more research needs to be done to determine whether acne affects sleep, citing a study that shows over 50.3% of individuals with acne report pleasant sleep. And yet, for the remaining half who could barely catch some Zs, the question is whether their sleep quality would improve if their acne clears up.


Dermatologist Dr. Naana Boakye also comments that there are many theories stating that acne may impair sleep quality, but none have been decisively confirmed. While more research needs to be done, there's one possible explanation for why acne can affect sleep.

For many people, acne can cause stress and anxiety, GoodRx Health warns. Those whose lives have been impacted by acne are not only stressed about their skin condition, but can also struggle to find a sleeping position that doesn't worsen their acne. Anxiety can lead to poor sleep, notes Sleep Foundation. Since poor sleep can exacerbate acne, this can end up becoming a vicious cycle.

How to sleep right if you have acne

Whether it's sleep deprivation that causes acne or acne that causes poor sleep quality, you still need to sleep. So, the question is how to sleep without exacerbating your acne.

First, make sure you change your bedding at least once per week. Carrying hordes of dirt and bacteria that can infiltrate your skin and cause breakouts, pillowcases should be laundered with fragrance-free detergent at least once every few days, notes Health


Another thing to keep in mind is your sleeping position. Cosmetic doctor and plastic surgeon Dr. Konstantin Vasyukevic warns Real Simple that sleeping on your stomach can take a big toll on your skin because it allows your cheeks to come into contact with the pillowcase, home to a wealth of impurities. Lying with your face upward is the optimal position, because it prevents your facial skin from rubbing against the pillow. This sleeping position also helps minimize wrinkle-inducing friction.

Keep in mind that the aforementioned tips are just preventative measures. If you are struggling with acne or having a hard time sleeping soundly, you should speak to a dermatologist or specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Acne can induce stress, which can worsen your sleep quality. Likewise, difficulty sleeping can worsen acne. No matter which one is the bigger culprit, early treatment will help you remedy an existing outbreak, get a good night's sleep, and stave off future breakouts.