4 Common Bad Habits That Are Making You Look Older Than You Are

Back in college, we could basically eat, drink and sleep whenever we wanted, and staying fit was pretty easy.

We could stay up late watching Netflix, get drunk before the Sunday football game, eat plates of cheese fries in the dining hall and still manage to look and feel good.

As our bodies get older, though, it becomes more of a challenge to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.

The things we do start to effect not just how we feel and behave, but how we age.

In fact, there are are a lot of simple, everyday things you don't even think about that are making you look older.

Here are four of them:

1. Lack of Sleep

When it comes to your looks, having an extra cup of coffee in the morning is not going to compensate for your lack of sleep.

Even a mild lack of sleep can cause sallow or yellowish skin and puffy eyes.

Long-term sleep loss can lead to dark circles under the eyes, poor skin and fine lines that look like wrinkles.

Why does this happen?

When you don't sleep enough, your body releases additional cortisol, a stress-related hormone.

When you have too much cortisol in your system, it can break down skin collagen, the protein that maintains skin elasticity and smoothness.

When you miss out on a good night's sleep, your body releases less human growth hormone, which is meant to thicken skin, increase muscle mass and strengthen bones.

Without enough sleep, your skin, eyes and face will look older.

2. Poor Diet

Unhealthy foods like sugar, salt, hydrogenated vegetable oils and trans fats can make you look and feel older.

When you consume sugar, it is converted to glucose in your body and then enters your bloodstream, where it attaches to skin proteins.

When the glucose attaches, it forms new molecules called advanced glycation end products, which coincidently spell AGEs.

When this happens, the AGEs interfere with your elastin and collagen, which can decrease your skin's firmness and elasticity.

When you eat too much sugar, your skin will look more wrinkled and saggy over time.

3. Alcohol

Alcohol is another killer when it comes to foods that make you look older.

A healthy liver is critical for healthy skin because it expels toxins that can negatively affect your skin.

So if you drink too much alcohol and damage your liver, toxins can build up in your liver and cause skin issues like sallowness, wrinkles and acne.

Not only that, but drinking alcohol can also trigger rosacea outbreaks and negatively impact sleep, which, as mentioned above, doesn't do your looks any favors.

4. Cigarettes

Most people know cigarettes cause cancer, but fewer realize just how bad they are for your skin.

Smoking cigarettes will make your skin age faster.

Cigarettes and tobacco can make your eyelids droop and increase the wrinkles around the neck and mouth.

A main factor in skin degeneration is the fact smoking reduces oxygen to the skin and inhibits blood circulation, which causes worn and wrinkled skin.

On top of this, smoking releases toxins and free radicals into the body.

These harmful compounds impair your body's production of collagen and even break down the skin proteins.

This increases oxidative stress on cells and speeds up the aging process of your skin.

To make up for years of smoking, you would have to start eating healthy, sleeping healthy and drinking lots of water.

But rather than worrying about finding ways to compensate for these bad habits, avoid them as best you can.