Many doctors in the field of aesthetic medicine, myself included, have noted for years that patients will tend to have more and deeper wrinkles on the side of the face on which they predominantly sleep. So for instance, if someone sleeps on their left side, the left side of their face is most likely to get more wrinkles than their right.
Now, a recent article in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal of September 2016 reviewed the medical literature. They found that compression during sleep (i.e. one side of the face pressed up against a pillow for a prolonged period of time) not only results in wrinkles but may also contribute to facial skin expansion, thereby accelerating the aging process.
Sleep wrinkles differ from wrinkles of expression in that they are caused by an external force working upon the face. In this case, the force comes in the form of pressure on a pillow over multiple hours. Sleep wrinkles also tend to be in the lower face where skin is more easily stretched over bone and ligaments.
Based on the studies in this area, the authors recommend what should be obvious: everyone should sleep on their backs if possible. Sleeping on your stomach is not an option, as sleeping face down is uncomfortable and potentially dangerous.
They also recommend pillowcases that are smooth and less likely to deform the face while sleeping, such as those made out of silk and high-thread-count cotton. In fact, there are specialized pillows designed to minimize facial pressure during sleep.
In addition to the sleep hygiene recommendations, being good and gentle to your skin can also help to minimize sleep wrinkle formation. These practices include regular sunscreen use, not smoking, and maintaining a balanced diet and weight.
Practicing a skin care routine before going to bed is also important. This routine should include removing all makeup, then using a moisturizer and anti-oxidant night cream such as our Multi-Complex Night Creme.
While we all would like to avoid the more obvious sleep wrinkling, the authors of this study also emphasized the importance of limiting the impact of what they called “facial distortion”. They feel that this stretching of the skin and having it held in place for many hours during the act of sleeping could have a significant effect on the appearance of premature facial aging. Facial distortion will obviously be a field for further study to determine better ways to avoid this problem.
If you have any questions concerning wrinkling or any other aspects of your skin that make you look older than you want to look, feel free to call us at (207) 873-2158. You can also call us to schedule your free and confidential consultation with Dr Burke and/or Denise Gidney, our aesthetician.