Sleeping Lines (Wrinkles Caused by Sleeping)

The phrase “you snooze, you lose” takes on a whole new dimension when considering how sleeping affects facial wrinkle formation. Like we need to worry about this on top of everything else? But since we spend one third of our lives asleep, it is something worth considering.

if you press your hand against your face you will see where
your sleep lines would appear (2)

When you sleep on a pillow that is patterned or embroidered, you wake up with an impression of that pattern on your face that takes a few minutes to wear off. Imagine having that imprinted on your face for years on end in the same spot, wouldn’t it eventually leave a lasting impression?

What are sleep lines?

left side: wrinkles caused by aging and sun
exposure. right side: sleep lines (1)

Most wrinkles occur as a result of muscle contraction: Repeated frowning causes frown lines, and repeated laughing causes laugh lines.

Sleep lines are different; they are caused by the repeated pressing down of the face on the pillow during sleep. Our skin is attached to underlying muscle and facia, more so in some places than others. Parts of our face skin will move when we press down on a pillow, but when an area of the skin that is well attached to underlying structures resists the pressure of the pillow against it, that is where a line can form.

a study took pictures of participants sleeping on transparent
pillows (green area is point of contact with pillow) (4)

Vertical or oblique lines appear on the forehead, under the eyes, on the sides of the nose, and on the lower cheeks and chin. If you sleep on one side more than the other, you will notice the wrinkles developing there more quickly compared to the other side.

On the body, they most notably appear between the breasts.

As a side note, if you get your regular fillers, and you are a side sleeper, you might have noticed that the side you sleep on loses its fullness faster compared to the other side. Sleeping on your side flattens your filled cheek at a faster rate.


Sleep on your back

Since the main cause of sleep lines is sleeping on the side and face, the logical preventive method is sleeping on the back. However, changing the way we sleep is NO easy feat. Just like any habit, this one is hard to break. For some, sleeping on the back can be problematic, either due to being overweight or having breathing problems. Unless you are truly diligent and determined to change your sleeping habits, this solution might not be very practical. But nothing is impossible. If you feel this is an option for you, then allow me to be a little bit envious!

“Anti-wrinkle” pillows/ breast cushions

an idea for an anti wrinkle pillow (4)

I would say that these are worth a try. A recent study tested a hollow pillow and found that when used, it does lessen the appearance of sleep lines in the morning, which can translate into less sleep lines over time. There are a few other pillows that fall under the anti-wrinkle category, like the Vasseur Anti-Wrinkle Beauty Pillow ($49.95, and the SpaceSleeper Pillow ($29.95, but in terms of which is the best, there is no conclusive evidence yet.

breast cushion to prevent wrinkling! don’t know about these

I would also invest in silk or satin pillow cases. They allow the skin to move on them with less friction, compared to cotton pillow cases, which lessen the chance of lines forming.


before and after using fillers for sleep lines on cheek (3)

Botox is of no help since these wrinkles are not caused by muscle contraction. The best option is the use of fillers, and collagen production stimulation by laser therapy, as well as subcision (detachment from the underlying facia).

Bottom line

With sleep lines, prevention is definitely easier than treatment. So, at an early age, try training yourself to sleep on your back, and invest in anti-wrinkle pillows.

Good luck and thank you for reading!

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Sources and Pictures:

1- N. Sartfaktoglu et al. A New Phenomenon: “sleep lines” on the Face. Scandinavian Journal of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery & Hand Surgery 2004; 38: 244-7.

2- JE. Fluton, F. Gaminchi. Sleep Lines. Dermatologic Surgery 1999; 25(1): 59-62.

3- S. Fagien. Variable Reconstitution of Injectable Hyaluoronic Acid with Local Anesthetic for Expanded Applications in Facial Aesthetic Enhancment. Dermatologic Surgery 2010; 36(1): 815-21.

4- B. Poljsak et al. The Influence of the Sleeping on the Formation of Facial Wrinkles. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy 2012; 14: 133-8.