Wrinkles from Sleep?

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

While it’s a known fact that getting a good night’s sleep is key to looking your best, there is still a lot of confusion about whether sleeping with your face on its side can cause wrinkles.

That's probably because there is, unfortunately, limited scientific data on the topic. And research offers conflicting findings. For instance, one small study finds a link, while another doesn't.

The bottom line: Though some dermatologists aren’t convinced, some believe that there is a connection between the way that you sleep and wrinkles. How it happens: When you sleep on your side or stomach, your face is on its side and gets smashed into the pillow. That happens for several hours a night, every night, which, over time, may cause wrinkles. When younger people wake up after sleeping on their sides, their skin instantly goes back to where it was because their skin has higher levels of collagen and elastic tissue. But as you age and have spent decades sleeping this way, those creases don’t disappear after a few hours and instead become permanent. These wrinkles on your chin, cheeks, and forehead are actually called “sleep lines.” And if you sleep on one side more than another, the sleep wrinkles will mostly appear on one side of your face.

The best way around this is to sleep on your back, but if you’ve been a side-sleeper or a stomach-sleeper your entire life (or if you're pregnant), that can be tough. You can make it harder to roll onto your side by placing support pillows next to you. If that doesn’t work, try switching out your pillowcase from the one that came with your sheets to a satin one, which is less likely to pull your skin or bunch up against it. And there is a final option: an item called a sleep wrinkle pillow. It is designed to cradle your face in a way that lets you sleep on your side without pushing your skin against the pillow (the pillow props up your forehead and chin but leaves your cheek free).

Lastly, don't forget to wear sunscreen daily, especially on your face. Repeated exposure to UV light can degrade collagen and elastin tissue, which makes facial wrinkles more likely to appear. So apply sunblock each morning—even if you're not heading to the beach. Remember, if you sit near a window during your commute or during work, you are still getting some rays.