Will polyphasic sleep cure my acne?
June 19, 2008 12:40 AM   Subscribe

Any polyphasic sleepers reading this have nice skin?

I've tried Accutane; made me really depressed so I got off that. Don't really like getting blood tested as well and it was only slightly effective anyways. Also tried a bunch of other lotions, Spectro Acne Care / Clean and Clear / Biore / et cetera... all of them did very little.

I've completely cut off dairy products and red meat. Trying Proactiv now but it doesn't seem to be working (I think my acne actually got worse!). The only thing I can think of is the amount of sleep (average 4~5 hours per day) that's affecting my acne. I'm unable to get the 6.5~7.5 hours of sleep I want; too much to do, too much to learn (even with all the GTD actions I perform daily). So is polyphasic sleep a good solution?
posted by querty to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I know this isn't an answer to the polyphasic sleep question, but have you tried any other prescription drugs besides Accutane? I was also really depressed when I took Accutane... now I take minocycline in combination with a topical clindamycin cream, and it pretty much handles my moderate acne problems.
posted by arianell at 1:05 AM on June 19, 2008

I hesitate to answer, since I'm not addressing your question about sleep...
I would really recommend finding an esthetician in your area who has experience treating acne. In my experience, this was not easy. Most salons in my area focused on pampering, rather than therapeutic, treatments. Look for someone who has lots of experience treating acne and can work with you to create a personal regimen.
People are just so different; your acne may respond well to one sort of acid (lactic, salcylic, glycolic), and the only way to find out is trial and error. The problem with products like Proactiv is that it is so generic and weak (chemically, I mean - Proactiv is a 2.5% benzoyl, which is very weak, not to mention that not everyone responds to benzoyl peroxide). And if you have any sort of compounding problem (rosacea, or very dry skin, for example), these products won't treat it and may just aggravate both issues.
A good esthetician will work with you on products and treatments: they shouldn't be selling you ten different products, and they should also let you try different products to see what works best.
Again, sorry for the off-topic advice, but I hope it helps.
posted by queseyo at 1:33 AM on June 19, 2008

Are you a woman? Consider asking your family doctor about birth control with anti-androgen effects (such as Dianette).

If not, I've also had good luck with laser treatments and strong glycolic acid peels. Give polyphasic sleep a try to see if it helps (4-5 hours is far too little for most people, and has been associated with several types of poor health outcome). As for changing your diet I found lack of meat and dairy did not affect me, but cutting out caffeine and making sure I was getting enough vitamin A and zinc did help in controlling what is now an only occasional problem. YMMV.
posted by methylsalicylate at 3:02 AM on June 19, 2008

For me, physical and emotional stress always exacerbated acne.

Polyphasic sleep would have only made this worse, as it leaves me feeling a little weird and strung out (yes, I've tried!).

I know you said you can't get a good 8 hours sleep, but I think this may be part of your problem. If you're so busy working/studying that you can't get more than half a night's worth of sleep, your body is stressed, whether or not you can mentally "handle it".

If possible, try to manage your time better so you can sleep like a regular human being. Maybe you should even consider lightening your workload.

The last thing you need is to be needing sleep every hour or two.
posted by sunshinesky at 4:04 AM on June 19, 2008

As other posters have suggested, you might do well to find ways to address the sources of stress in your life that are causing you to feel that you have "too much to do, too much to learn" to rest in a normal way. Your body is remarkably good at telling you when what you're up to isn't working for it, and acne - especially post-teenage years - tends to be indicative of something being out of balance.

Not to get all quackery on you, but wouldn't altering your lifestyle to calm down a bit be easier than taking medications and/or struggling with an atypical sleep pattern?
posted by ellF at 4:28 AM on June 19, 2008

sleep makes a huge difference in my skin. studies show that sleep deprivation messes with your endocrine system, which controls your hormones. i just recently saw on tv that healthy people with sleep deprivation actually enter a pre-diabetic state. also, sleeping more helps you learn more and retain what you have studied better. :)

that said, the best things i have found is to change your pillowcase often, wash your hands often (so you are not accidentally touching your face with dirty hands), swab your phone and the frames of your glasses/sunglasses with some antibacterial cleaning solution every day, wash your face with a gentle cleanser 3 times a day, exfoliate once a day with a gentle sponge or brush, and treat daily with a 2% salicylic acid lotion (some will make you break out, others won't, due to the additives, so you may have to try a few).

and for pete's sake, get some more sleep. you are not doing yourself any favors by living like that.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:33 AM on June 19, 2008

If you find that one treatment supplied by your dermatologist isn't working, then you should go back to them and see what your other options are. A combination of Doryx (doxycycline) and Nicomide (a prescription nicotinamide vitamin with no side effects that may actually lower your cholesterol) have worked wonders for me, in combination with Differin applied topically.
posted by awesomebrad at 4:49 AM on June 19, 2008

Not everyone needs 'a good 8 hours sleep'. 4-5 hours might be enough for you, if you were getting 2-3 hours less than than you need every night you would be tired all the time and you'd probably have much bigger problems than acne.

Are you only getting 4-5 hours because you wake up after that much time, or are you staying up till 4-5 hours before you need to get up for work/school/whatever?
posted by missmagenta at 5:13 AM on June 19, 2008

I'm a lifelong polyphasic sleeper and I've had some pretty bad acne over the years. In my case, it is stress and hormone-related. Topical applications, they do nothing for me. Although, drinking a lot of water (2-4L a day, depending on activity and temperature) helped a lot.
posted by ysabet at 5:17 AM on June 19, 2008

Have you tried a little exercise? It might actually help with studying, too. It's helped loads with my skin when I've done it. Just wash your face both before and after the exercise.
posted by amtho at 6:14 AM on June 19, 2008

I can't help with the sleep question, but have you tried a face wash with tea tree oil? I use this one from The Body Shop periodically, and my skin has never been so clear. It's a bit on the pricey side, but I think anything with tea tree oil in it would work just as effectively.
posted by phatkitten at 6:15 AM on June 19, 2008

9 hours, in a row, or your body stops working. You may be lucky enough to see it sooner rather than later in the form of skin problems. Act accordingly.
posted by ewkpates at 6:19 AM on June 19, 2008

Get all of your carbs from vegetables and fruits. Cut out grains and legumes, especially refined sugars and flour. See how that works.
posted by schroedinger at 6:50 AM on June 19, 2008

N'thing schroedinger. Open an issue of National Geographic that has an article about people living a traditional lifestyle and note the lack of acne. Dairy and meat are the wrong villains here. Masai? Eat nothing but red meat and milk and have gorgeous skin. Cutting out grains, legumes, sugar, caffeine, salt, and alcohol can make a huge difference.

Acne vulgaris: a disease of Western civilization.
Role of diet in acne

Diet certainly isn't the whole story, as genes and hormones also play a big role, but it can make a difference.
posted by melissam at 7:46 AM on June 19, 2008

I find plain and simple that if I don't get enough sleep, my skin gets worse. Though these days my eczema is near enough gone, it does flare up when I give my body a hard time on top of stress with work.

So if you feel like you want more sleep, get it. Then look for other sources to help, but since you've identified you feel you want more sleep yourself, it seems a little short sighted to ignore your own impulses.
posted by paulfreeman at 8:41 AM on June 19, 2008

I've had irregular/'weird' sleep cycles for years, and I've also experienced a period of years with the amount of sleep you mentioned. From what I can remember, polyphasic sleep didn't really affect my skin much either way. But generally, I don't really have a problem with acne, although my pores could always do with refining.. Personally, I've found that my diet affects my skin more than my sleep does in terms of acne - although getting a healthy (8 hour-ish) amount of sleep does make my skin look better (in the sense that it looks softer, smoother, with less eyebags, etc).

Drinking a lot of water is supposed to help your skin a lot. Exercise is supposed to help too. Usually, I don't eat much dairy or meat (except fish; I like fish!), and I like eating vegetables. I don't eat much fried food, either. I'm not sure whether those eating preferences I listed have a direct correlation with my general lack of facial acne, but they could be a data-point anyway. I find that any facial acne I get tends to be a result of 1) either not washing my face enough, or washing my face too much (the former clogs my pores, the latter irritates my skin), or 2) not washing my pillowcase as often as I should, or 3) bingeing on fried / oily / fatty food (I was trying to put on weight quickly).

And sometimes the environment you live in can be the cause of acne - my friend never had a problem with acne until she moved to NYC; she figures the pollution was/is the cause of her acne.
posted by aielen at 1:23 PM on June 19, 2008

Polyphasic sleep won't help your skin.

My brother slept polyphasically for a few months and his skin was the same as when he slept monophasically, if not worse.
posted by bradly at 10:01 PM on June 19, 2008

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