Does The Way You Sleep Cause Wrinkles?

Does The Way You Sleep Cause Wrinkles?  It doesn’t sound like an unreasonable proposition in principle. Your skin is in contact with cotton, which is quite a hard and abrasive material, for many hours each night. You might well expected to have a detrimental effect on the Quality of your skin.  Dr. Jaime Davis is in no doubt about it. He attributes the fact that many women have more wrinkles on one side of their face and that the other to the fact that they sleep on that side of their face. This doesn’t happen with men apparently. We are supposedly more likely to sleep on our stomachs. So we get our wrinkles on our foreheads.

So it is an intriguing notion.

What is the actual evidence? On the face of it, it isn’t strong. A study reported in 2013 failed to show any significant relationship between the side someone slept on and the severity of their wrinkles on that side of their face.  The result they did find was quite interesting. This was that, in America at least, wrinkles were more common on the left side of face.  They attributed this to the greater degree of sun exposure to that side of the face, because in America that is the side that the sun catches when you drive with an open window. That’s quite interesting in itself.  The even more intriguing fact was that the man who carried out the study thought that in fact there was an effect from sleeping side.  He told this to the Beauty Brains at the time (can’t provide a link at the moment – they have had a loss of content on their blog).  The problem was that the effect from the sun overwhelmed the effect from anything else, making the contribution of sleeping side impossible to detect.

This is a common problem in the science. The classic and scientific experiment involves exposing something to a factor or set of factors and measuring the response.  It is really tough to pick up small effects when there is a big effect going on.  It’s the same reason that you can’t see stars when the sun is in the sky.

But just because you can’t see something, that doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t there. And it might well be possible to train yourself to sleep on your back rather than on your side.  It sounds like something that at the very least can’t do any harm.  There isn’t a full clinical trial comparing sleeping on your back to sleeping on your side unfortunately.  Until that is done there can’t be said to be any definitive proof of the matter.  But it certainly sounds like it ought to be true, and there are some intriguing indications that support the idea.

A 1999 paper was able accentuate wrinkles by applying a pillow to the skin and making delicate readings.  This in turn was confirming some earlier less rigorous work.  So although this is not firm proof it is very suggestive.

So on the whole although I don’t think it qualifies as scientific fact just yet, I am prepared to believe that sleeping with your face against your pillow might mean you get more wrinkles than if you sleep on your back.

I am however not at all sure that the effect is very big.  The effect from the sun’s rays is very real and very noticeable.   If you meet two people of the same age you can tell which one has spent most time outdoors.  I don’t think that pillows are anywhere near the same magnitude when it comes to how you look.  If you are planning on a modelling career it might be something to consider, but I think for most people it is just one of those things that you can’t really do anything about.

Dermatologic Surgery Volume 39, Issue 9, pages 1360–1362, September 2013http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2011/02/24/good-question-can-certain-sleep-positions-cause-wrinkles/

Dermatol Surg. 1999 Jan;25(1):59-62. Sleep lines. Fulton JE Jr, Gaminchi F.

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