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Mythe ou réalité sur les rides du sommeil ?

Sleep wrinkles: myth or reality?

We are aware of the benefits a good night's sleep has on the skin. But have you ever considered that the way you position yourself for sleep could influence skin ageing and impact its appearance with the formation of wrinkles? This is what we refer to as sleep wrinkles.

What exactly are sleep wrinkles?

Sleep wrinkles do indeed exist! In fact, it's not just the passage of time that has effects on the face. Certain bad habits can contribute to the appearance of wrinkles: this is particularly the case with sleep habits. Scientists have demonstrated that certain positions in bed are more likely to provoke the appearance of signs of ageing.

The entirety of wrinkles present on the face do not solely originate from facial expressions (expression lines). We also refer to sleep wrinkles, which are facial folds caused by pressure exerted on the skin in contact with the pillow. This phenomenon is noticeable when you sleep on your side (foetal position) or on your stomach. These positions fold the skin continuously and thus create a skin laxity over the long term.

When you sleep with your face pressed into the pillow, you subject your facial skin to increased pressure throughout the night. This pressure promotes the premature development of wrinkles and also creases in the neck, as the skin ends up being crumpled and held in this position for several hours. When your face comes into contact with the pillowcase, it has to bear the weight of your head. Sleep wrinkles are not related to ageing and therefore cannot be considered as fixed tension wrinkles.

Even though these wrinkles are usually sporadic, as we age, they cease to disappear in the morning and become permanent. Sleeping on one's side or stomach are not the primary causes of wrinkle formation on the face or neck, but they can significantly contribute to and accelerate the process. Moreover, sleep wrinkles can make expression lines deeper and more prominent, as the skin tends to crease along existing wrinkles. The delicate skin around the eyes and lips is particularly vulnerable.

Sleep wrinkles are predominantly vertical. However, as we all have different sleep habits, the creases can also be horizontal and oblique, particularly in the eye area. Thus, the sleeping position is considered an etiological factor in wrinkle formation. Various facial distortions and wrinkles have been observed during sleep: crow's feet, wrinkles around the mouth, flattening of the forehead, blunting of the nasofrontal angle, melolabial and nasolabial folds.

Sleep wrinkles are caused by the constant, long and repetitive habits of sleeping in the same position and on the same side of the face. Resting the face on a pillow in the same manner can increase or exacerbate the formation of wrinkles. Sleep wrinkles eventually become deeper and do not dissipate, even when the head is not resting on the pillow. People sleep for a third of their lives. When we sleep on our side, the skin of the face is compressed and crushed against the pillow, which stimulates the formation of wrinkles.

During sleep on one's side or stomach, the facial tissues are subjected to mechanical forces of shearing, compression, and tension. The skin is stretched and pulled in all directions with the changes in sleep position. These forces become significant when considering the time spent sleeping and the sleep position.

These sleep wrinkles tend to be perpendicular to expression lines. The profile of sleep wrinkles will further be influenced by the time spent in various positions, the force applied to each area of the face, and the contact surface. Expression lines show little variation in the direction of the applied forces.

How to prevent sleep wrinkles?

  • Sleeping Position: Altering your sleeping position can help prevent the formation of wrinkles on the face and neck, however, wrinkles caused by skin ageing will continue. It is recommended to sleep on your back : individuals who sleep in this position develop fewer sleep wrinkles, as their facial skin is not compressed against the pillow. Moreover, this position helps to avoid friction between the face and the pillowcase.

    Anecdote : In addition to reducing the formation of sleep wrinkles, those who apply facial treatments at night before sleeping do not risk ending up with a pillow soaked in cream and/or lotion, and can therefore fully benefit from their effects. This step is, indeed, unavoidable if you sleep on your stomach or side. A good position thus allows the treatments applied beforehand to penetrate more easily into the epidermis and to act as they should.

  • Type of pillow chosen: An alternative pillow has been designed to minimise the formation of these wrinkles on the face by redistributing the pressure from the parts of the face that crease, particularly on the cheeks, eyes, chin and mouth during sleep. It features a hollow so that the head is nestled in this spot. Moreover, it elevates the face to exert no pressure. It has been developed in such a way that it supports the weight of the head and allows the significant part of the face to be suspended in mid-air. Such a pillow could be useful as a preventive device to slow down and/or prevent the formation and worsening of certain facial wrinkles, such as sleep wrinkles. In addition, it also provides adequate support to the neck, shoulders and back.

What about the material of pillowcases? It is often suggested that one should opt for silk or satin pillowcases to limit the formation of sleep wrinkles and that, unlike polyester and cotton, these materials do not "mark" the skin. However, using silk or satin will not reduce the appearance of these skin folds in any way. As a reminder, sleep wrinkles are caused by the crushing of the facial skin against the pillow, or the position of the head. Therefore, regardless of the chosen material, the head will always be positioned in the same way on the pillow.

How to reduce sleep wrinkles?

When we smile or frown, our facial muscles contract for a brief period, whereas the deformation of the skin caused by contact with the pillow lasts for hours. This is why sleep wrinkles are more challenging to correct, and the use of fillers only produces a short-term effect.

Sources

  • GOLDBERG L. H. & al. The influence of age and patient positioning on skin tension lines. Journal of Dermatologic Surgery and Oncology (1993).

  • GAMINICHI F. & al. Sleep lines. Dermatologic Surgery (1999).

  • ASLAN G. & al. A new phenomenon: “Sleep lines” on the face. Scandinavian Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Hand Surgery (2004).

  • DAHMANE R. & al. The influence of sleeping on the formation of facial wrinkles. Journal of Cosmetic & Laser Therapy (2012).

  • LAMBROS V. & al. Sleep wrinkles: facial aging and facial distortion during sleep. Aesthetic Surgery Journal (2016).

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