Primary investigator Dr. Elma Baron of the University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland said skin functions as an important barrier from external stressors such as environmental toxins and sun-induced DNA damage.
"Our study is the first to conclusively demonstrate that inadequate sleep is correlated with reduced skin health and accelerates skin aging," Baron said in a statement.
"While chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to medical problems such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and immune deficiency, its effects on skin function have previously been unknown."
The study involved 60 pre-menopausal women ages of 30-49 with half of the participants in the poor quality sleep category.
The classification was made on the basis of average duration of sleep and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, a standard questionnaire-based assessment of sleep quality.
A visual skin evaluation was completed and several non-invasive skin challenge tests were conducted. Additionally, participants filled out a sleep log for one week to quantify sleep duration.
Using a skin-aging scoring system, poor quality sleepers showed increased signs of intrinsic skin aging including fine lines, uneven pigmentation, and slackening of skin and reduced elasticity, Baron said.
Additionally, 44 percent of poor quality sleepers were obese, while 23 percent of good quality sleepers were obese.
The findings, commissioned by skin care manufacturer Estee Lauder, were presented at the International Investigative Dermatology Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland.