Good in Bed

While it’s common knowledge that a lack of sleep is not conducive to the glow of good health, many people fail to realize just how important it is to looking and feeling their best. In fact, for some, getting enough sleep is akin to discovering the fountain of youth. It’s not such a stretch when you consider the impact sleep has on the skin. From making new collagen and increasing blood flow to the skin to producing growth hormones that help repair damaged cells, a good night’s sleep is key to achieving healthy and beautiful skin. It’s also essential for overall wellness, which is why so many spas today are incorporating treatments and rituals to help spa-goers sleep better. Here, we give you the highlights of how sleep is making an impact in both skincare and spa programming. 

Did you Know?

Although there is a lot about sleep that has yet to be discovered, we do know quite a bit about this essential daily activity. Here are a few interesting facts about sleep from The Better Sleep Council.


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  • You’ll die from sleep deprivation before starvation. It takes two weeks to starve, but only 10 days without sleep can kill you.
  • When you sleep, the brain recharges, the cells repair themselves, and the body releases important hormones.
  • Dreaming is normal, and those who don’t dream often have personality disorders.
  • The body requires different amounts of sleep at different ages. For instance, babies typically require 16 hours whereas ages three to 18 require 10 hours and ages 19 to 55 require eight hours and those over 65 require only about six hours. 

Nocturnal News

For years, the skincare industry has promoted products for both daily and nightly use. Is it merely a marketing ploy? While it may have started out that way, time has proven otherwise. “Historically, night products tended to be heavy in texture but had no real scientific justification for their presence in a regime,” says Susan Harmsworth, founder and chairman of ESPA. “However, more research has been done in recent years into the science of skin and what happens during the day and night and also what impact a lack of sleep has on the skin. Sleep deprivation prevents proper cellular regeneration and thus can affect ongoing health if it occurs over a prolonged period.” According to her, there is now evidence that the biology of the skin can change at night during sleep. “In simple terms, during the day, the skin’s processes are switched to optimize protection, and during the night, they switch
to repair,” says Harmsworth.

As a result, sleep presents an ideal time to nourish the skin. Barbara Gavazzoli, director of communication and education for Comfort Zone, shares some other reasons nighttime may be the best time for activating a deep repair.

  • Epidermal cells have the energy to repair themselves from the oxidative damage suffered during the day.
  • Hormones, such as melatonin, known for its antioxidant properties, can help support the healing process.
  • The skin is more receptive to absorbing topical products thanks to the accelerated blood flow, which provides nutrients and oxygen. 

Key Ingredients

While there is no shortage of night-repair creams on the market, you may be wondering what ingredients to look for to help optimize skin. We asked our panel of experts to share their favorites.

“Studies have shown that the gene that separates and differentiates our keratinocytes is influenced by light. That is why actives supporting skin’s regenerative functions are best delivered during the night via overnight masks or nighttime ampoules. An extract of black algae, for example, can help to regenerate the dermis, the layer of the skin that has a particularly high content of collagen fibers. It ensures that we look fresh and wrinkle free. Black truffle extract, together with willow extract, supports a healthy and youthful appearance of the skin.”—Andrea Weber, head of research and innovation, Babor

“Some of my favorite key night-repair ingredients include jojoba and microgreens. When combined, they hydrate the skin, helping with transepidermal water loss and neutralizing free-radical damage incurred during the day.”—Boldijarre Koronczay, president, Éminence Organic Skin Care

“A special ingredient we use is a bioferment from baker’s yeast. This is used in our Optimal Skin ProMoisturiser and overnight Hydration Therapy mask, which helps to keep the complexion fresh by regenerating dehydrated, stressed-out skin throughout the night and ensuring skin is protected from environmental damage during the day.”—Susan Harmsworth, founder and chairman, ESPA

“I typically recommend a mix of correctives with skin-building ingredients, such as retinol or retinaldehyde, chrono peptide, epidermal growth factors, and organic stem cells.”—Rhonda Allison, founder and CEO, Rhonda Allison Cosmeceuticals

“It is now recognized that various important functions of the skin are influenced by biorhythms. At night, cells switch to repair and regeneration mode. Skin metabolism is increased to prepare for the next day. Cell renewal is twice as high at night compared to daytime. My favorite actives for renewal during sleep can be found in our Energizing Night Cream. They include grafted glycolic acid, which boosts cell renewal, and sophora japonica flower extract, which promotes elimination of toxins overnight and helps limit puffiness that can be present in the morning.”—Caroline Rushworth, director of eduction, Sothys USA 

Internal Clock

Circadian rhythms, also known as our biological clocks, tell the body when to sleep, when to wake up, and even how the skin should act. Such systems help to explain why the skin often doesn’t look its best when people are jetlagged or sleep deprived. “It’s important to balance, as all sorts of factors can interrupt the circadian rhythm,” says ESPA’s Susan Harmsworth. “For example, even a small amount of UV exposure can result in disruption. Shorter and darker days in winter can also affect this, when more melatonin is produced, which is believed to disrupt the normal circadian rhythm.”

Relevant Research

More than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis.
—A 2016 study in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 

50 to 70 million U.S. adults have a sleep disorder.—American Sleep Association

Almost 80 percent of Americans agree that a lack of sleep causes problems like difficulty concentrating and increased stress.—The Better Sleep Council

One study that examined data from 3,000 adults over the age of 45 found that those who slept fewer than six hours per night were about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who slept six to eight hours per night.—National Sleep Foundation

Sleep Aids

Philip Stein Sleep Bracelet ( Help your guests get some shut-eye with this ultra-soft, lightweight bracelet, which is embedded with proprietary natural frequency technology.

Project Z ( This curated and customizable package of sleep wellness practices features workshops, retail products, treatment protocols, guest-room amenities, and more. Partnering with sleep guru Robert Michael deStefano, Longeva helps spas expand their sleep-related offerings. Included in the package is the DreamKit, which includes Anoint Sleep Serum, Sanctify Dream Cream, and Dream Mist, three core NightSpa products; a step-by-step Zbliss Beauty Sleep Ritual Guidebook; and a free download of Zbliss Sleep Music Therapy.

Sleep Easily All-in-One Sleep Kit ( Developed by Richard Shane, Ph.D., this kit features a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy delivered through a mini audio player. In addition to several sleep-inducing recordings, it also includes a sleep guide and summary card, eyeshades, and earplugs. 

Sleep Sessions

Because sleep has become such a key issue in the quest for overall wellness, many spas have introduced a variety of sleep-related offerings. “I’ve noticed more and more properties moving from sleep as a fad or trend into a critical component of overall wellness,” says Longeva’s Robert Michael deStefano. These are just a few of the spas that are lulling spa-goers to a better night’s sleep.

Glen Ivy Hot Springs (Corona, CA) recently debuted Comfort Zone’s newly introduced Tranquillity Pro-Sleep Massage ($115, 50 to 60 minutes), an innovative treatment that incorporates the relaunched Tranquillity line, an exclusive blend of essential oils, a unique massage brush, and a specially designed soundtrack and massage style that encourages deep relaxation.

Spa-goers at Miraval (Tucson, AZ) who want to stop counting sheep can sign up for Are You Sleeping? ($75, 90 minutes), a workshop presented by Sheryl Brooks, R.N. In a group setting, participants will discover how their brains and bodies function during sleep, and they’ll also learn what they’re doing each day and night that is contributing to keeping them awake. Offered periodically throughout the year, the session offers solutions to help spa-goers sleep better. Also available year-round are private ($150, 50 minutes) or duet sessions ($115 per person, 80 minutes) with Brooks for more individual attention.

Renowned sleep doctor Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., spearheaded the launch of Sleep With Six Senses, a program that pairs all participating guests with a sleep ambassador, who helps prepare their rooms, which feature handmade mattresses, organic pillows and sheets, a Withings Aura Sleep Sensor to measure and analyze their sleep, a Sound + Sleep Ecotones Machine, and a variety of sleep amenities.

Westin Hotels & Resorts recently introduced a new Sleep Well package (starting at $189), which, in addition to accommodations and late checkout, also includes a nightly credit for the Westin Sleep Well Menu, a curated selection of sleep-enhancing superfoods developed in partnership with SuperfoodsRx; a $100 credit to enjoy a relaxing spa treatment; and Sleep Well Lavender Balm, the brand’s new bedside amenity designed to encourage sound sleep. The company, known for its signature Westin Heavenly Bed, also rolled out a Westin Heavenly In-flight Blanket in Delta’s First Class cabins this past November.