Does sleeping on your side cause wrinkles ?

Sleep lines are wrinkles created while you sleep

Wrinkles and creases can develop during sleep, depending on the interaction between your face and the pillow.  These sleep lines can be noticed as vertical creases under your eyebrows, next to your nose, and on your chin.  Back sleepers are probably less likely to develop sleep lines than stomach sleepers.  So why do they call it beauty sleep?

sleep lines

Where vertical sleep lines occur (in red)

Does it matter which side you sleep on?

In 2013, I published my research on the relationship between sleep position and facial aging in the peer-reviewed Dermatologic Surgery Journal.   My team collected photographs of 100 women who came to me for consultations for facial aging (seeking Botox, eyelid lifts, facelifts, filler injections, etc).  We also surveyed these women and asked which side they preferred while sleeping.  These photos were split vertically down the middle and the sides were randomly flipped using photoshop.  An independent observer was then asked to rate which side of each subject’s face looked older and had more wrinkles.  The statistics showed there was no association between the side you mostly sleep on and the side of your face that looks older (is droopier and has more wrinkles). So, while sleeping does cause sleep lines, the side you prefer to sleep on doesn’t appear to develop more wrinkles than your non-preferred side.

Driving a car causes wrinkles on the left side of your face

A majority of the women photographed in the study had more wrinkles and droopiness on the left side of their faces, independent of the side they sleep on.  The most likely explanation is that driving causes more UV exposure on the left side, which is also the reason that sun-induced skin cancers are more common on the left side of the face.  Sun damage is a more significant and dangerous cause of facial aging than sleep position.

Should you use an anti-wrinkle sleep pillow?

There is little evidence supporting the claim that a special pillow prevents wrinkles.  Anti-wrinkle pillows are often promoted as being able to relieve facial pressure points by changing the traditional pillow shape.  Others claim to nourish the skin with special fabrics.  My study indicates that it is more important to be diligent about wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen, even when driving.  Daily, high quality sunblock should be the primary foundation of your anti-aging strategy.  Sleep should be refreshing and restful, so my professional advice is not to worry about sleep wrinkles – worry about awake wrinkles.