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Sleep is one of the most important aspects affecting your general wellbeing. Sleep deprivation can be devastating for your health, from impaired immune system to increased irritability and stress. As anyone who has ever experienced it will tell you - it's no fun.
A lack of sleep can also have a very large impact on the appearance and health of your skin. Sleep deprivation reduces the ability of the skin barrier to hydrate itself and produce collagen, leading to dull, dry skin, and wrinkles.
Also, abnormal stress levels caused by sleep deprivation can cause inflammatory responses in your skin, such as itchy skin, acne, wrinkles. It can also flare-up existing skin conditions, such as eczema. So, can a lack of sleep cause itchy skin and eczema? It sure can.
Those of us living with eczema will know that this can lead to a vicious cycle - sleep deprivation causes higher stress levels, leading to eczema flare-ups, which make sleep practically impossible and so on.
Eczema and sleep seem inextricably linked.
Unfortunately sometimes we do have moments when we can't get that 8-hour beauty sleep, however in order not to enter this vicious cycle there are a few eczema and sleep problems tips that can help relieve that itch during night time.
Tips For Better Sleep With Eczema
Here’s our tips on getting the best sleep possible so that your eczema isn’t suffering from tiredness and you’re not caught in the vicious cycle.
Give Your Bedroom a Regular Deep Clean
The ideal bedroom environment is one that’s cool, dark, free from noise and clutter, and most importantly, clean. This goes for anyone, but it can be especially helpful if you’re struggling with itchy, eczema prone skin and associated sleep problems.
So, deep clean your bedroom regularly, at least once a month, in addition to your regular weekly cleans.
This means removing and washing all of your soft furnishings including your curtains and scatter cushions to remove dust and dust mites. If this fills you with dread, consider wooden, easy to clean blinds and avoiding all scatter cushions, no matter how pretty!
Then, begin at the top, and work your way down from ceiling to floor, vacuuming, dusting and using cleaning products designed for anyone with allergies. Don’t neglect light fittings, door frames and skirting boards as they all harbour dust and pull out all your furniture to vacuum behind everywhere.
Your windows and window frames are important to keep clean and free from dust too, as they’re often entry points to dirt, dust, mould spores and environmental irritants.
Damp dusting is often more efficient than dry dusting, as a damp cloth holds onto more dust, rather than transferring it around the room to settle elsewhere.
Choose the Right Mattress (and Bedding)
It’s recommended by the authority on sleep, that is the sleep council, that we change our mattresses every seven years. After seven years, amazingly, it would’ve seen more than 20,000 hours of sleep.
(Plus, rather disgustingly, it would’ve also absorbed all the fluids and dead skin cells we lose each night - which is up to half a pint of fluid each night and a pound in dead skin cells per year…)
Things to consider when choosing the right mattress and bedding include:
- Memory foam mattresses wrap around the body, making you warmer and reducing the air that can circulate around you, which can make eczema prone skin feel worse
- Feather bedding can do the same, especially so feather or down pillows, so choose hypoallergenic synthetic ones instead
- Ensure all of your bedding, including your duvet and mattress topper can be easily machine washed on a hot wash
- 100% cotton is the best fabric for all bedding, including the pillow case and duvet covering
- Silk is also a good choice and alternative to cotton
- If you have children with eczema prone skin try to give them the top bunk if they’re in bunk beds to avoid dust and dead skin cells dropping on them from their sibling above
Good Sleep Hygiene is a Thing!
Hygiene doesn’t just mean keeping things clean. The concept of good ‘sleep hygiene’ means considering healthy sleep habits that will give you the best chance of achieving good quality sleep. Such as:
- Following our tips above for the right bedding, and having a cool, dark, quiet, clutter free bedroom
- Aim to go to sleep and wake at the same or similar time each day, even at weekends, to train your body clock to get ready for naturally sleeping and waking
- Avoid using your phone or other electronic device in the hour before bedtime - they emit blue light that tricks the brain into thinking it’s daytime
- Also avoid eating a heavy meal (especially one that contains meat or dairy), drinking alcohol or caffeine or vigorous exercise in the hours before bed in the evening, as they're too stimulating on the brain
- Use relaxation techniques before bed, such as reading, mediation and gentle yoga
Eliminate Air Pollutants
Install an air cleaner or purifier to get rid of all the harmful allergens and bacteria in the air. This way, they won’t settle on your skin, causing itching and inflammation.
Have the Temperature Right in Your Bedroom
As it can be difficult for someone with eczema to control their body temperature, make sure your room is cool enough, around 16-18°C because heat and sweating are itchy skin triggers.
Changes in temperature can cause itching and irritation to the skin, so keep your bedroom at a constant temperature by leaving the heating setting down low.
If you find that you get too hot in bed, use layers of blankets that can be stripped down if necessary. If you have different temperature needs to your bed partner, there's nothing wrong in having separate duvets!
Get Rid of Dust Mites
There are millions of tiny bugs in your bed feeding off dead skin cells. Make sure to wash your bedding regularly in high temperatures, as well as your pillows and duvet, and hoover your mattress regularly.
Ensure the Right Humidity Level
Use either a humidifier or a dehumidifier in your bedroom to ensure that humidity is not at an extreme level.
Wear Lightweight, Loose Clothing
Make sure you’re not wearing any artificial, man made fabrics or tight or restrictive clothing as they will prevent your skin from breathing, blocking the pores which will irritate skin tissues and cause itching.
Apply Topical Treatments Before Bed
Apart from the usual moisturising routine, it’s worth applying some anti-itch herbal skin paste, these will usually contain natural calming ingredients such as aloe vera, camomile, calendula and others.
Daytime skin creams need to be lightweight and comfortable. But you can afford to use a heavier emollient at night. That way, it can sink into the skin as you sleep and as your skin is repairing and will last until the morning.
Wet medicated badges, available from doctors and pharmacies can be very helpful in times of severe eczema breakouts.
Consider Wearing Safe Scratch Clothing
A lot of the scratching caused by eczema occurs when we’re asleep and don't realise it, causing more irritation. It’s therefore worth wearing long-sleeved clothing and possibly gloves.
Keep a Sleep Diary
We know that changing everything at once can be daunting and overwhelming, so it can be helpful to change one thing at a time and record how it affects your sleep - both positively and negatively. Make one change and see how you fare for a week to ten days before changing anything else.
Note down everything including your stress levels, when you last ate, what you ate, whether you consumed alcohol or caffeine and if you exercised. Also note down the temperature and if there were any new noises affecting your sleep. Record anything that you think might give you information on what is affecting your sleep.
Best wishes for getting your sleep right. And if you're looking for the perfect night cream for your face, look no further than the Sönd Overnight Replenishment Night Cream!
This article is not meant to treat or diagnose. Please visit your doctor for advice about any health concerns you may have.