The Science of Sleep: Catching Some Zzzs with Urticaria
Sleep deprivation is bad for you, but falling and staying asleep when dealing with a CSU outbreak can be tough. Here are ten tips to soothe your skin and sleep better.
There’s a reason it’s called ‘beauty sleep’. After all, we know that lack of shut-eye can have a huge impact on your complexion – particularly if you’re prone to skin conditions like chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU), eczema, or psoriasis.1,2 And, unfortunately, having one of these skin conditions could be part of the problem when it comes to you and a good night’s rest.
Research suggests sleep deprivation causes the body to go into stress mode, triggering the release of hormones that can send the immune system into overdrive.3 In the case of CSU, this sets off a cascade of biochemical changes that leads to the release of histamine,4 leaving skin itchy and inflamed5 – which could leave you scratching yourself silly.
The other problem is having a skin condition like CSU can make it hard to fall sleep in the first place!6 For starters, it’s common for hives to strike with a vengeance at night – which may be due to a natural drop in levels of a hormone called cortisol,7 which normally dampens the immune response.8 Our tolerance threshold also tends to be lower when we’re tired, so itchy skin can seem even more irritating at bedtime. And let’s face it, there’s nothing like a restless night of itching and scratching to leave you feeling exhausted and stressed the next day.
So how do you break this frustrating vicious cycle? Well, we’re glad you asked! Here are 10 ways to soothe your skin and help get a good night’s sleep…
1. Ease itching with oatmeal
A bath before bed will help to calm your whole body. Go one better and sprinkle some ground oats into the water. These ease itching by producing a soothing gelatinous film when wet that protects and moisturizes.9 Just make sure the water isn’t too hot, as this will irritate your skin.
2. Avoid last call and make a date with your bedroom
Continually burning the midnight oil can affect your cortisol levels,10 which can negatively impact your skin. Aim to be in bed early for the best chance of dropping off to sleep itch-free. That means no binge-watching your favorite episodes until the wee hours of the morning.
3. Cotton bedding keeps you cool
Natural fibers like cotton and bamboo are more absorbent than synthetic ones, so help to wick away sweat and keep skin cool.11
4. The best pajamas for hives? No pajamas!
Wear loose pajamas to avoid irritating your skin, or sleep naked to keep skin cool and allow it to breathe. Pro tip: if you live with roommates or a significant other, check with them before deciding to bare it all before bed. If you find yourself scratching while sleeping, wearing a pair of cotton gloves in bed can help.
5. Ditch the coffee (after a certain time)
Caffeine is such a powerful stimulant it can affect sleep for up to six hours after your last sip.12 Avoid tea and coffee in the afternoons and you’re less likely to lie awake feeling itchy. Better still, switch to Rooibos tea,13 which is caffeine-free and – as other teas – contains a natural antihistamine called quercetin.14
6. Dealing with an attack of hives in the night
If your skin feels itchy during the night, open a window, take a cool shower, or use a cold cloth as a compress to help ease the inflammation and reduce itching.15
7. There’s an app for that!
Download a sleep app like Deep Sleep or Relax & Sleep, which both use hypnosis to send your body into a state of deep relaxation at bedtime. In fact, studies have shown hypnosis is beneficial for people with CSU.16
8. Vitamin D for the win
Vitamin D appears to play a role in both the regulation of sleep17 and the immune system.18 Safe sun exposure and choosing foods rich in vitamin D like oily fish or fortified milk and cereals can help boost levels naturally.19
9. Stress less to sleep more
Addressing the triggers in your life could be the best sleeping pill there is, whether that’s speaking to your employer about your workload or taking on less outside of work.
10. Speak to your doctor about insomnia
Sleep deficiency is a serious health issue; so don’t be afraid to raise the problem with your doctor. There are a number of effective treatments available to ease hives and help promote a more restful night. In other words, there’s really no need to lose sleep over CSU. Sweet dreams!