Counting down the days until the weekend, when (children permitting) you can finally sleep in a little after the long work week? Well, those glorious extra hours of shuteye might not be the beauty sleep you think they are. In fact, it turns out they could actually be making you look older.
We know there’s a sleeping sweet spot in terms of how many hours we clock per night when it comes to preventing diabetes, but now we might also have to consider our literal sleeping sweet spot, too. According to American plastic surgeon Dr. Goesel Anson, sleeping on your stomach or side can result in the worst kind of wrinkles: sleep wrinkles.
No, we’re not talking about those embarrassing creases you get on your face following a particularly good nap. Sleep wrinkles are a nicer, more succinct term for distorting your face by cramming it into a pillow, according to the doc. When you press your face into the same surface night after night, it can result in older-looking skin.
Dr. Anson isn’t the only one making this claim; the American Academy of Dermatology recommends sleeping on your back to avoid premature aging to your face, too. Or to invest in a wrinkle-free pillow, which makes you sleep in a certain position so that your face never actually touches the surface. Switching to new bedsheets made of satin is another potential fix, since it’s a more slippery material than, say, cotton. (And as an added bonus they’ll also make you instantly feel sexier.)
According to Dr. Anson, there’s no way to reverse any damage you may have already done. Unlike expression wrinkles, which is what treatments like Botox and fillers were created for, there’s no “cure” for sleep wrinkles — just prevention.
Looking for a more inexpensive way to prevent those pesky lines? There’s always the option of sleeping on your back. Not only is that the recommended sleep position, as noted above, but it also leads to a better spine and posture (and everyone knows a good posture makes you automatically look skinnier).
Having a hard time learning to sleep on your back? Follow these three simple tips:
1. Adjust your pillows
There are specific ones you can get to help train you to sleep on your back, or you can take an extra pillow and place it under your knees. Still shifting? Try weaving the pillow through your legs, so that one end is under your right knee and the other end rests just over your left knee. Softer pillows will feel more comfortable and keep your legs from feeling elevated.
If that still doesn’t work, consider placing two pillows on either side of your body for extra support and to keep you “in place”.
2. Check your mattress
If yours feels slightly…mushy, then it’s time for a new one. A firm mattress is the key to good back support — without it you’ll be tempted to flip back over to your side or tummy. Can’t afford a new mattress right now? Consider investing in a less expensive mattress topper.
3. Don’t expect miracles
If you’ve slept in a certain position for your whole life, you’re not going to automatically change things up on the first night. Start small, and aim to at least fall asleep on your back each night. If you automatically shift while you’re sleeping, don’t give up. Readjusting takes time, and more importantly, patience.