The compression, tension, and shear forces applied to the face while sleeping on one’s sides or stomach may cause facial distortion, leading to the development of sleep wrinkles over time.
This is the conclusion from a study published recently in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, the peer-reviewed publication of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).
“Sleep wrinkles form in response to distortion created when the face is pressed against any sleep surface. They tend to worsen over time due to repetition combined with thinning of the skin and decreased elasticity as we age,” explains ASAPS member and the study’s lead author, Goesel Anson, MD, FACS, in a media release from ASAPS.
Sleep wrinkles are also influenced by the amount of time spent in various positions. While our initial sleep position is a conscious decision, we change positions throughout the night unconsciously. The number of shifts decreases as we age from 27 to 16 per night, with an average of about 20 position shifts, according to the release.
While some sleep wrinkle patterns can reinforce facial expression lines, most sleep wrinkles tend to be perpendicular to expression wrinkles. Most sleep wrinkles can be seen on the forehead, lips and cheeks. Unlike facial expression wrinkles caused by muscle contractions, sleep wrinkles that are formed because of mechanical compression during sleep can’t be eliminated using Botulinum Toxin, the release continues.
“One way to minimize sleep wrinkles is to limit facial distortion during sleep. If you can stay on your back, that’s ideal. There are several specialty pillows available to help achieve that,” Anson states.
“Dermal fillers can temporarily improve wrinkles of any type. However, neurotoxins won’t have much effect on these wrinkles since they are not caused by muscle contractions,” Anson adds in the release.
Proven ways to reduce wrinkles
1. Keep out of the sun.
It’s the top cause of wrinkles. Plenty of studies have found the connection between wrinkles and too much sun.
“It’s important to avoid excessive exposure, which causes sun damage to the skin,” says Matt Gass from the British Association of Dermatologists. “UV light, and especially UVA, causes ageing of the skin by breaking down the collagen and elastin which give it support.”
Wrinkles tend to appear on the face, neck and backs of the hands first as they are generally the areas most exposed to the sun.
” Sun damage not only makes you look older, it is also the main cause of skin cancer, so there are plenty of good reasons for looking after your skin in the sun”, says Matt.
2. Slap on sunscreen.
If you do go out in the sun always wear sunscreen even in the winter.
“It is never too late to start wearing sunscreen every day,” says Hermione Lawson from the British Skin Foundation. “We know UV exposure is the main cause of skin ageing, and remember, even on cloudy days up to 80% of the sun’s harmful UV rays can reach your skin.”
3. Don’t smoke.
Research shows that the skin of smokers ages more quickly than that of non-smokers. The skin tends to be thinner and has more furrows and lines. Smokers often get deep grooves around their lips.
Smoking can break down the skin’s natural collagen which makes skin look less firm and more wrinkled.
” Cigarette smoke is one of the main environmental factors that causes changes in the skin often associated with looking old, such as coarse wrinkling and a sallow, leathery texture,” says Matt.
4. Sleep on your back.
Don’t skimp on sleep and make sure you do it on your back.
If you sleep on your side or front every night you can get sleep lines etched into your face which don’t disappear when you get up. Over time these lines can become a permanent facial fixture. Some people like to sleep on silk sheets and pillowcases to lessen the effect.
5. Wear glasses or sunglasses.
In other words don’t screw up your eyes or squint. Any repetitive facial movement can overwork your facial muscles forming a groove which can turn into a wrinkle.
6. Eat a healthy and varied diet.
The condition of your skin can sometimes be reflected in what you eat.
“Feed your skin from the inside by eating a variety of foods including your ‘5 a day’,” says registered dietitian Perryn Carroll.
“Drink plenty of water and don’t over consume alcohol, which can dehydrate the skin,” she says.
7. Eat ‘superfoods’.
There’s no single miracle food that makes us less wrinkly, more’s the pity, but eating foods that are known to contain vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids may all contribute to keeping your skin healthy and glowing.
” Vitamins A, C, E, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine and selenium play a role in skin health,” says Perryn.
Even a simple moisturiser without any special ingredients will reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The skin will look plumper and more supple rather than drier and lined. Try one with a built in sunscreen.
Some skin moisturisers and treatments contain special ingredients that claim to reduce wrinkles. The anti- ageing ingredients are found in many skin care products that you can buy over-the-counter or are available on prescription from a dermatologist. They can also be used in skin peels.
The percentage of the active ingredient varies according to the product.
9. Alpha-hydroxy acids.( AHAs)
These are natural fruit acids which lift away the top layer of dead skin cells, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, particularly around the eyes. In higher concentrations, AHAs may help stimulate collagen production.
These natural substances, that include vitamins and minerals, can be found in plants. They can work to counter free radicals that damage DNA. Damaged skin cells may lead to wrinkles.
You can eat foods rich in antioxidants like blueberries, blackberries and kidney beans. You can also use them on your skin. Many skin treatments contain a form of anti-oxidant. They include green tea extract, vitamin A, vitamin C and CoEnzyme Q-10 (CoQ-10).
11. Vitamin C and A.
Many skin care products claiming to minimise fine lines and wrinkles contain these vitamins. Vitamin A is sometimes referred to as retinol, which is a form of vitamin A.
“Certain medicated creams containing vitamin C or modified vitamin A can have the desired effect for some people looking to treat wrinkles, and these are generally available on prescription from a dermatologist,” says Hermione from the British Skin Foundation.
12. Q10 (CoQ-10) and Idebonone
Your body naturally makes CoQ-10 to neutralise free radicals in cells. As you age, you make less CoQ-10. That may make skin cells more vulnerable to damage by free radicals. That’s the reasoning behind the use of the antioxidant in skin care products.
Idebonone is related to Q10 (CoQ-10). It’s an antioxidant which some studies suggest may help reduce fine lines and wrinkles.