I was visiting a friend who recently returned from Florida, and I told her how beautiful she looked with her sun-kissed tan. She thanked me but complained about the crease down her chest that she said was caused by sleeping on her side.
I have always slept on my back, with the exception of both of my pregnancies, so our conversation left me wondering if our sleeping position really does affect our appearance. I decided to do some reading to find out what the experts had to say.
It turns out our sleeping positions not only have an impact on our physical health, but they can also affect our appearance. Around 60 percent of people sleep on their side, according to the Sleep Foundation. And there are many health benefits associated with it, such as help with reducing sleep apnea and snoring and alleviating some forms of back and neck pain, while also lessening heartburn and congestion. But despite all the payoffs the side-sleeping position offers, it could have a negative impact on our skin and appearance for the following reasons.
*When sleeping on your side, your face is pressed on the pillow for several hours a night. Since your pillow collects dirt, sweat and facial oils, the constant contact of all that bacteria on your skin can cause acne breakouts.
*During your night’s sleep, as you shift and move your head on your pillow, the added friction can create skin irritations.
*Those special lotions that you put on your face and neck before bed will rub off on your pillow instead of absorbing into your skin.
*Sleeping on your side also produces “sleep lines,” creases formed from the pressure of your face on the pillow all night. You might notice them when you wake up and then, as the day goes on, they may fade away, but over time they produce a permanent wrinkle. This also happens on your neck and chest, as my friend revealed in our conversation.
*Side-sleepers can experience more puffiness and swelling from the fluid that has been pooled on one side of their face. Thankfully, that will go down throughout the day but it’s no fun to wake up looking that way!
If you sleep on your side, make sure you wash your pillowcase weekly to keep it clean. Experts suggest buying a silk pillowcase to ease the chafing on your skin. But, if you're worried about the above, start sleeping on your back, which has fewer negative effects on your appearance.
When you are sleeping on your back, your face and neck are not in constant contact with the pillow so you won’t risk having sleep lines, irritations or acne. And all your special skin care lotions will be more effective because they won’t rub off on the pillow and be wasted. Also, the gravitational pull on your face when you are sleeping on your back eliminates any pooling of fluid around your eyes, cheeks and neck. It helps to have a firm mattress to give your body the support it needs while lying on your back. You may want to place a pillow under your knees to help alleviate the pressure that can cause lower back pain. You can also buy a special pillow or simply roll up a towel and place it under your neck to keep your cervical spine supported.
And sleeping on your back won’t create that deep crease down your chest as it did with my friend. However, sleeping on your back is a mixed bag as it may make the pain worse for those with neck issues, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The position also may not be good for those with sleep apnea.
The worst sleeping position for both our physical health and appearance is sleeping on our stomachs. While it can help with snoring, this particular position can be hard on your spine, causing back, shoulder and neck pain, according to the Mayo Clinic. Pregnant women should also be warned this position is not healthy for them and their babies in the late stages of pregnancy. Unfortunately, this position will also create the same acne, irritations, wrinkles, and swelling as the side sleeping position since your face will be in constant contact with the pillow. Most experts recommend switching your sleep position to your back for those reasons.
It may take time to develop the habit of sleeping on your back, but it might be worth the effort if you want to look your best — although do consider the health implications as well.
What's your go-to sleeping position? Let us know in the comments below.