Getting Old Overnight: Why Sleeping Might Make You Age Faster

Melissa Rudy on 19 Dec 2013 at 9:30am

sleep wrinkles
If you've been subscribing to the notion that a girl needs her beauty sleep, you may want to reconsider. Apparently, your visits to dreamland could be giving you wrinkles.

The American Academy of Dermatology notes that sleeping in certain positions — on your side or face-down in the pillow — causes “sleep lines” on your face and neck. After many nights of slumbering in the same position, they can become permanent. Sleeping on your side can also wrinkle your chest. Whatever you call them (“boob lines,” anyone?), they're just as unsightly.

Individual doctors affirm this furrow-inducing sleep phenomenon. “Sleep lines are a well-recognized dermatologic entity,” says dermatologist Dr. Arnold Oppenheim. “You can test for these lines yourself [versus regular wrinkles] by simply applying pressure to the side you sleep on. If the lines are duplicated and accented, your lines are most [likely] sleep lines.”

Don’t sleep in a chair just yet, however! Here are some tips for conquering these insidious creases.

The natural solution: Try a new position

sleeping wrinkles

While you might typically reserve the flat-on-your-back position for certain other bedroom activities, it's the cheapest and most effective way to smooth out sleep lines for both face and chest. “Sleeping on your back is the best option, but many people find it uncomfortable,” Dr. Oppenheim says.

Back sleeping can be tough at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll enjoy more benefits than just erasing wrinkles. The position can also help achieve better breathing, a straighter spine, and a reduction in migraines and back pain.

A few tips to help you maintain the missionary position:
  • Practice. No, really — take 10 or 15 minutes out of your day to lie on your back in bed. Muscle memory plays a role in the way we hold our bodies, so every time you hold this position, you're training yourself for healthier sleep.
  • Place a pillow under your knees. This can give you the leverage to relax when you're flat, and it helps keep you in place if you tend to thrash around in your sleep.
  • Invest in a memory foam pillow, which will mold itself around you and encourage you to stay still. They're also super comfortable, so if your significant other sleeps in the bed with you, make sure you get two — otherwise, you may find yours gone in the morning!

Can you cushion your way to smooth skin?

wrinkle pillow

Some specialty pillows can help fight the battle of the folds. Available in polyfill and memory foam versions, the About Face Wrinkle Prevention Pillow claims to “lift and cradle your face” to avoid sleep creasing.

The Intimia Breast Pillow purports to smooth your cleavage by driving a soft wedge between your breasts — but does it work? Plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel Medalie cautions against getting your hopes up. “If a product seems too good to be true, then it probably is,” he says. “The pillow may be comfortable, but it is unlikely to make much of a difference in whether your breasts get wrinkles or not.”

If you're looking for a pillow to prevent wrinkles, you'd likely get better results sleeping on one infused with skin toner.

Photo credits: Andrews Rodriguez/Deposit; CandyBoxImages/Deposit; About Face & Intimia

Comments (15)

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Who cares if you gave bad breath while sleeping?
My advice: Get a good night's sleep and don't stress too much about being face down, face up, or sideways. Most adults have a difficult enough time getting a full night's rest. If you get a wrinkle, its part of life. If it bothers you, then thats what your plastic surgeon is for. ;) When its time to do something about it, we'll be here for you. In the meantime rest well, live well, and be happy.
Yeah...if you trust plastic surgeons. There are so many of you that take it upon yourself to do procedures to your patients even though the patient didn't give permission or have knowledge of what was going to done. Then there are those of you who shouldn't be practicing because you don't know what you are doing. Do you think you should practice on us hoping that you may get it right eventually.
I would say take the advice from the article above and avoid all plastic surgeons. Best yourself!
Just try a ChestSaver. It's a garment so you can sleep in any position you want and the chest wrinkles still keep the chest wrinkles away. Highly suggest to anyone concerned about chest wrinkles.
where do you get them

For the last few months I've been trying to train myself to sleep on my back for this very far its been a no go. I'll drift off on my back, but its only a really light sleep & I'll wake up frequently...then I get frustrated & calculate the hours till the alarm goes off and flip over on my side in defeat.


Have you tried a pillow under your knees? That's what saved me during surgery recovery, and I still use it. Also a wedge pillow under your back can help. Or perhaps a cut-out wrinkle-preventer pillow ;)


Yeah, I do the pillow under my no avail. I'll keep trying...but my side is oh-so cozy! Guess fillers are in my foreseeable future. ;)

Hey Megan- I am the inventor of The Wrinkle Prevention Pillow. The patented design of the pillow helps you learn to sleep on your back (and makes it super comfortable) but it also protects your face from touching the pillow when you do turn on your side or stomach. You should check it out.
Best of luck.
Patty Colman

Hi Patty -

I've been testing out your pillow for the past few nights -- stay tuned for a blog post about it next week! 

P.S. It's really comfortable :)

Great! There are so many benefits! Prevents sleep lines and wrinkles, helps you to sleep on your back which helps prevent chest wrinkles, and the slight elevation helps to prevent eye puffiness.
Please send me a note or link when you review.
Thanks Makenzie!

I've seen the pillow, but I don't see how it would help with sleeping on your back. I think the cutout seems like a great idea, but I think I would end up moving around during the night & having my face pushed against the main portion of the pillow anyways. Do you not find this to be what happens?

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But apparently sleeping on your back can give you bad breath. It's a lose-lose!!

I guess I'll have to sleep on my back with a breath mint strip dissolving on my tongue.