Sleep, stress, and your skin: exploring the mind–skin connection

Neal's Yard Remedies

Neal's Yard Remedies

Writer and expert

"Most experts agree 7-9 hours of sleep is sufficient, and that more can be detrimental. It’s quality, rather than quantity, that counts."


Sleep plays a major role in our overall health and wellbeing. It’s essential for maintaining a smooth, supple and radiant complexion, and it’s when we produce human growth hormone (HGH), which is essential for skin to repair and rejuvenate. Sleep is also the time when our body cleanses and detoxes, while the brain sorts, stores and processes information after the stresses of the day.


Here’s what happens during different times of the night:


  • 8pm to 11pm is time for hydration and stimulation

  • 11pm to 3am is time for nutrition and regeneration

  • 3am to 5am is time for resting

Our skin is at its warmest at night, meaning we naturally sweat more. The moisture in sweat helps rebalance skin hydration, like our body’s natural moisturiser, and it eliminates impurities to help our skin cleanse.

Lack of sleep can leave the skin looking dull and lacklustre. Prolonged sleep deprivation may contribute to skin ageing, with more fine lines, less elasticity and a less even skin tone.

Our Frankincense Intense™ collection is designed to help you age well and stress less. Clinically proven to target the early signs of ageing, this skin-plumping collection is made with organic Boswellia sacra (frankincense) essential oil, which is traditionally used to promote relaxation

Try our Age-Defying Overnight Mask which firms and contours the skin while you sleep, with 86% of women agreeing skin looks visibly smoother from the first use.* 

For an added moisture boost, try applying the Frankincense™ Intense Hydrating Essence before the Overnight Mask for 24 hours of skin hydration.


*Based on a consumer trial with 102 women used as a 30-minute treatment


"Chronic stress can lead to elevated cortisol in the evenings, making it harder to fall and stay asleep, even if we feel exhausted."

Cortisol is one of our body’s stress hormones. When in balance, it starts out highest in the morning, giving us the boost of energy we need to start our day. Throughout the day, cortisol levels should dwindle while melatonin levels rise, making it easier for us to wind down for bed. During the final stage of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, cortisol levels decrease further and the body cools down.

Caffeine, stimulants, and stress all increase the body’s cortisol levels. Chronic stress can lead to elevated cortisol in the evenings, making it harder to fall and stay asleep, even if we feel exhausted.

To help prevent cortisol spikes, avoid eating late, and limit caffeine consumption, particularly towards the end of the day. A cup of our Night Time Tea contains a herbal blend of lavender, chamomile and lemon balm, and is ideal to enjoy before bed to help you wind down.

High cortisol levels can also negatively affect skin, causing inflammation and circulation problems, both of which can lead to dullness and premature signs of ageing. To promote night-time relaxation and help combat premature ageing, build our Frankincense Intense™ collection into your evening skincare ritual. It’s clinically proven to plump and smooth the skin, while frankincense relaxes.


Melatonin helps us enter the calm state we need to help achieve restful sleep. It’s also an antioxidant, helping protect the skin from damaging free radicals that are linked with skin ageing and hyperpigmentation.

Natural sunlight helps the body produce melatonin and keeps the circadian rhythm in sync. This is especially beneficial in the morning, so making time for a pre-work walk in nature or a cup of tea in the garden is great practice. It’s also a good idea to avoid blue and bright LED lights in the evening, so try swapping them out for lower-level lighting or candles.


One of the ways we can naturally increase serotonin needed for sleep is through our diet. Try incorporating these serotonin-boosting foods and herbs into your meals to see an improvement in your sleep quality.


Or why not try our Beauty Sleep Supplement which contains vitamins B6 and B12 to help reduce tiredness and fatigue, while zinc helps maintain normal skin, hair and nails and contributes to protecting cells from oxidative stress, which is associated with increase signs of ageing.


Step 1: Use natural remedies to stay calm during the day and for better sleep at night

Flower Essence Blends like UnwindS.O.S and Letting Go are great to have on hand if you wake up during the night, helping to soothe you back to sleep.

Step 2: Cooling down after a warm bath helps the body recognise it’s time to sleep. 

Finish your day with our certified organic Beauty Sleep Foaming Bath, allowing the aromas of calming ylang ylang, patchouli and clary sage essential oils to relax and soothe. Follow up with the Beauty Sleep Body Butter for soft, sleep-ready skin.

Step 3: Set the mood for relaxation with aromatherapy. 

Spritz your room with our Goodnight Pillow Mist before bed and light one of our Calming Candles with comforting rose and geranium.

Step 4: Meditate before sleep

Try using our Remedies to Roll Meditation to aid your practice.

Step 5: Build a nighttime skincare ritual to support skin’s overnight repair. 

Our Beauty Sleep Overnight Serum helps regenerate while you sleep, with a smoothing tripeptide proven to moisturise for up to 12 hours. For skin that looks better-rested, try finishing your routine with our Age-Defying Overnight Mask. With botanical adaptogens, it supports the skin for a refreshed and radiant complexion, while deeply soothing organic frankincense essential oil helps relax body and mind.