Sleeping on your side or front can create annoyinging creases in your face . But leading aesthetic doctor Sophie Shotter is here to help

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You might not give much thought to side sleeping or face down sleeping as you burrow your face into your pillow and drift off. But leading aesthetic doctor Dr Sophie Shotter warns that your beauty sleep could be making you look a little more crumpled and less refreshed than you’d like, by giving you sleep wrinkles.

Side sleeping or face down sleeping squashes your face into your pillow causing compression lines.

“The position we sleep in does have a profound impact on how we age,” she says. “Maybe the most obvious impact is with sleep wrinkles. These are wrinkles that run in different directions to those which are caused by smiling or raising our eyebrows for example. Common ones sit around the side of the eye or running diagonally down the forehead.”

Her trained eye can even tell which side someone sleeps on, as their sleep wrinkles will give them away.

Sleep wrinkles are also more common as we age. By our 40s and 50s, our skin produces fewer structural proteins - namely collagen and elastin. Our faces become less, er, pillowy and able to bounce back from being pressed against the crease of a pillow or bearing the weight of the average 5kg head. As we age, the grooves gained in sleep last longer. You may notice that after a night in an ill-fitting eye mask, for example, you still have pressure marks hours later.

 Dr Shotter has shared some arresting pictures on Instagram, which are enough to make hardened side and face-sleepers reconsider their position.

And wrinkle-relaxing injections such as Botox can’t help with sleep wrinkles. They only work on lines caused by moving your muscles such as frown lines and crow’s feet. Think of sleep wrinkles as ‘face creases’.

That makes sleep wrinkles "quite tricky to treat", according to Dr Shotter. But, there are some ways  to minimisie them.

How to get better at sleeping on your back

The simplest solution for sleep wrinkles is to sleep on your back, to remove the pressure on your face. Dr Shotter suggests sleeping with a pillow under your knees when you are on your back making it harder to roll over - or creating pillow barriers around you.

TikTok is also on hand with some DIY back sleeping hacks; in @isabelle.lux's video (below), entitled ‘Beauty Pillow Anti-Wrinkle Hack’, the creator suggests slotting two large kitchen rolls inside your pillowcase. The aim is to sleep with your head wedged in the middle.

Dr Shotter favours investing in a ‘beauty pillow’. “If back sleeping doesn’t come naturally to you, consider exploring specialised pillows, designed to cradle your head and neck, encouraging you to remain on your back.” Her favourite brand is the Envy Pillow, below.

@isabelle.lux BEAUTY PILLOW ANTI-WRINKLE HACK!!! Im literally obsessed with this its insane. #beautysleep #sleephack #antiwrinkle #reducewrinkles ♬ original sound - Isabelle ⚡️ Lux

How to side sleep with fewer wrinkles

If you really struggle to sleep on your back or you’ve been advised against it (for example if you are pregnant) there are other ways you can protect your skin from sleep wrinkles.

  • Alternate the side you sleep on each night. This at least shares the load, making sleep wrinkles less noticeable as they will appear more evenly across your face.
  • Try a silk pillowcase. “This will reduce skin friction and pulling, making wrinkles less likely to form,” says Dr Shotter
  • Hug a pillow when you sleep. This means you can’t fully curl up into a ball, reducing pressure on the side of your face. This is our Editorial Director Victoria Woodhall’s home remedy.

The best pillows and pillowcases to stop sleep wrinkles

The aesthetic doctor’s pick: The Envy Copper + Tencel Pillow, around $US 219 (around £175) plus shipping

This sustainable 100 per cent latex pillow (unlike microfibre, it’s biodegreadeable) provides support whether you are a back or a side sleeper and reduces heat build-up. It’s Dr Shotter’s pick. “It helps support you in a side sleeping position while keeping your neck ergonomically supported and your face unsquished,” It also comes with a vegan silk pillow case infused with anti-microbial copper. Be prepared for shipping costs ($80US to the UK, when we checked).


The beauty editor’s pick: Sleep & Glow Omnia Pillow, £135


Our beauty editor and resident troubled sleeper Ingeborg van Lotringen loves this not just for avoiding sleep wrinkles but for a better night’s kip. Made from memory foam that she describes as “surprisingly comfy” the molded shape supports the base of your neck when you lie on your back and stops cheeks and eyes from becoming squashed if you sleep on your side.

The anti-wrinkle pillowcase: Lilysilk 19 Momme Silk Pillowcase, £39


If you’re firmly in love with your current pillow and don’t want to change it, you can still tackle sleep wrinkles by resting your head on a silk pillowcase instead. They can be expensive but this is the most affordable and still effective one we’ve tested and loved (12 to 19 momme is considered good quality silk). Plus, it offers hair benefits too, by reducing the friction that otherwise can lead to frizz and breakage as you sleep.