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

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. 

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 

Can Pillowcases or Sheets Cause Acne?

Yes, both your pillowcase and your sheets can trigger acne breakouts. If you suffer from frequent acne breakouts or acne-prone skin it is essential to use a gentle non-comedogenic pillow case that will soothe your skin. If you deal with severe acne breakouts you should also make sure to wash your pillowcase 1-2 times per week to keep your skin’s oil from absorbing into your pillowcase

Does Sleeping Late Cause Acne? 

Yes, sleeping late and not sticking to a regular sleep schedule are harmful to health.  If you sleep late at night, or if you sleep on time some nights but not others, your brain will be unable to create a proper sleep cycle.  This is also bad for your mental health and increases your stress level. 
All of this has an adverse result on our bodies and skin, resulting in acne formation. Our skin is a vulnerable organ, so keep that in mind.

How Many Hours Should I Sleep Each Night? 

If you have babies in your home, you’ve probably seen them cry when their mother puts them to bed. We all hated bedtime when we were kids.  But as we get older, we crave it. A healthy adult should sleep 7 to 9 hours per day, according to recommendations. Our family responsibilities and work commitments sap all our energy.  In the end, we typically end up sacrificing our sleep time to get as much done as we possibly can. However, our bodies require rest as well. 
So, to stay sane, try to get at least 7 hours of sleep per day. If you have trouble falling asleep you should stay away from screens for at least two hours before going to bed and try your best to abstain from caffeine. If that does not work there are several supplements, like melatonin, that have a relatively low-risk profile and can help you fall asleep.

Can I Completely Get Rid of Acne?

Getting rid of acne is like embarking on a difficult journey. To get rid of it, you must be patient, get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and exercise. The most unfortunate aspect of acne is that it leaves behind acne scars. Then comes another struggle in which you must work to remove the scars. 
The good thing is that thanks to improvements in pharmaceutical corporations and medical technologies, there are therapy choices that will help you in achieving clear skin. 
You can get rid of them in some cases, and your skin will be as it was before the acne.


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.

Originally Published: June 30, 2021

Need more help? Ask our team!

I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their acne naturally. If you cannot easily find an answer to your question on the website, please reach out to me by email ([email protected]) or send me a message on Instagram or Twitter. I will reply within 24 hours.

Get The Definitive Guide To Permanently Clear Skin

Everything you need to beat acne at the source. 250-Page eBook, Clear Skin Food + Drink Database, and Members-Only Content

Get The Kit

sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood
Hi I’m Sam Wood. I’m the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach behind GoodGlow. I’m also an author of one of the top selling acne books on Amazon, a husband, father of two, and a pretty good cook!

I’m so glad you found GoodGlow and hope the information I have spent the last 10 years cultivating will help you clear your skin and improve your overall health.

I began experiencing acne breakotus as a sophomore in high school, but unlike most of my friends, my acne actually got worse as I got into my 20s. I exercised regularly, ate healthy (or so I thought) and spent hundreds of dollars a month on high end skincare products and supplements to help clear my skin. Despite these measures my acne breakouts and scarring only got worse as the years wore on.

This greatly wore on my self confidence and mental health. Simple things like taking pictures or going out with a large group made me feel self conscious. So I avoided these situations whenever I could help it.

As a last ditch effort I decided to try an extremely restrictive diet recommended by a close friend with an autoimmune disease. After following this diet for about two months my skin started to clear for the first time in over 8 years. The good news is that this restrictive diet is not actually necessary for 99% of people to permanently clear their skin, and over the course of a few months I was able to add back about 90% of my “normal diet”.

After clearing my skin I spent the next 4 years self experimenting on myself with different diets, supplements, skincare products to try and find a pattern for what was triggering my acne breakouts. I even tried different meditation, ice baths, and accupuncture to try and isolate the root cause of the breakouts.

In the end I realized that an extremely restrictive diet was not necessary for clear skin. The most important thing to do is to avoid inflammatory foods in your diet. Some common examples of this are fried foods, alcohol, sugar, and dairy.

Most impoirtantly I stopped reading trendy websites for skincare advice and began reading medical journals authored by dermatologists and nutritionists. Although the information in the articles was great the information was not easily understandable to most readers (including me). I spent hours dissecting individual posts and looking up terms I did not understand. Over the next 6 months I gradually began to understand these journals and started self experiemting some of the research on myself.

After experiencing quite a bit of success personally, I started sharing my research on forums and with close friends struggling with acne. When I shared the research it was in easy to understand, plain English. Everyone I talked to loved what I had to say and kept asking more and more questions. So I decided to start a blog so I could just send someone a link when they asked a question instead of rewriting something I had sent 100 times before 😅

While the same directional principles apply to everyone, acne is very personal and should be treated on an individual basis. That’s ultimately why I created GoodGlow. To help everyone reverse engineer the root cause of their acne and clear their skin permanently.

To date I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their skin using a natural, holistic approach. If you are unable to find an answer to your question in any of the articles my team has written please reach out and I will do my best to guide you to the proper information and resources so you can make a thoughtful, informed decision. Read more of Sam's articles.

Leave a Comment