Have you stayed up late wrapping presents or dancing at a holiday party only to look in the mirror the next morning to find that your face was dripping off your head? Puffiness, ashen complexion, matching luggage under the eyes—we look like phantasmal creatures when we don't get enough sleep. But why?
Puffy eyes, according to Dr. Michael Roizen, chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, are equivalent to swollen ankles. It's an accumulation of body fluids. When we sleep, we "distribute water in the body" that we haven't peed out during the day. If we don't sleep (on our backs or sides) the water pools beneath our eyes and makes us look like we got punched in the face.
Sleeping also allows our skin to reboot by tightening up. Stress, which is linked with lack of sleep, is what really beats you up with the ugly stick, as it has a huge effect on your skin. When you're tired and stressed you lose collagen, which makes your face baggy, and produce less melanin, which makes your face Crypt Keeper-y. And it all leads to wrinkles.
But ugly faces aside, chronic stress and fatigue damage you so deep that your "cells are biologically 10 to 15 years older." So if you're 30 and constantly tired, you will look and feel 45. And not like a Demi Moore 45, but a Steve Buscemi 45.
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