It’s been a lifelong myth, but beauty sleep truly is the key to glowing skin.

We’ve all heard of ‘needing our beauty sleep’, but for as long as we can remember it’s been nothing but a myth (and a good excuse to be tucked up in bed with a book by 9 o’clock). Now, while it’s still National Bed Month, we thought it was important to debunk the truth’s around this long lived tail, because it’s actually the key to the glowy skin that we all aspire to have. A new study conducted by biologists at The University of Manchester released by Nature Cell Biology proves that collagen repairs itself while we sleep, resulting in better skin.

What is collagen?

Collagen is something that has appeared in lots of skincare trends in recent months and has been promoted as a vital part of our daily regime. It’s a protein that provides our skin with the firm, healthy glow that we spend so long slaving over to achieve. “Collagen provides the body with structure and is our most abundant protein, ensuring the integrity, elasticity and strength of the body’s connective tissue,” said Professor Karl Kadler from The University of Manchester. As we get older, it’s thought that our bodies stop producing collagen, and our collagen levels decrease due to the likes of stress, sun exposure, air pollution and drinking alcohol. Don’t panic, there is hope in how to maintain our collagen levels and prevent them from getting too low, and one part of that is our beauty sleep.

So, why do we need our beauty sleep?

Biologists from the University of Manchester have explained for the first time why sleep is essential to our skin’s health. This new study has provided evidence that there are two variations of collagen fibres and that they do in fact, repair themselves while you sleep.

This discovery has shown that the two forms of fibre are different, one being thicker than the other. The thicker strand of it is formed at the age of 17 years old and it’s state remains permanent throughout our lives. The thinner strand is known as the ‘sacrificial’ one, and is the one that breaks down under the influence of pressure, exposure to the sun and drinking alcohol. Our beauty sleep is imperative to restoring this strain of collagen fibres.

A study was conducted on mice over a period of two days, where their collagen fibres were observed every four hours. They found that the during the period of time that the mice were asleep, the thinner collagen repaired itself before combining with the other, thicker, permanent fibres. Professor Kadler explained it like this: “So if you imagine the bricks in the walls of a room as the permanent part, the paint on the walls could be seen as the sacrificial part which needs to be replenished every so often. And just like you need to oil a car and keep its radiator topped up with water, these thin fibrils help maintain the body’s matrix.”

The finding’s of this study could further how we understand the biological side to our bodies and the way that they work. But for now, take it as a very good reason to switch off as early as you need to. Take a break, put your feet up and do what you can to ensure that you get that full eight hours of beauty sleep.

Feature image: Healthline