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Is the way you sleep ageing you prematurely?

Used to sleeping on your side or your front? We reveal why your overnight preferences may be leading to skin issues and wrinkles

The benefits of getting a good night’s sleep is something we’re all aware of, and when we curl up under the sheets at night, we tend to settle into our favourite position without giving it another thought.

But could the way you sleep and the positions you lie in be ageing your face prematurely? Is one  position really better than another?

Although it’s termed ‘beauty sleep’ because skin goes into repair mode at night, lying in the wrong position for several hours a night could be damaging your skin. Just as our skin reflects what we eat, it also reflects how we sleep.

A 2016 study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal showed that squishing our faces into a pillow while sleeping on our side or tummy can cause the face to distort, leading to sleep wrinkles.

Moreover, just being in a horizontal position allows fluid to pool in the face, which is why we so often wake up with that familiar puffy ‘pillow face.’ Although it’s temporary, the older we get, the longer it takes to disappear.

Even worse, the long-term effects of this daily swelling and the constant expansion and contraction of the skin leads to it stretching and then sagging, giving us an older appearance.

The position: front 

Sleeping on your front, or prone, is possibly the worst position of all, as your skin is pushed up against the pillow for hours at a time. With your skin squashed against the fabric of your pillow, the pores can’t breathe – there is also an exchange of bacteria between your pillow and skin. Clogged pores and acne can be the result, along with permanent lines and creases.

The fix: Salicylic acid can help with clogged pores and breakouts; Paula's Choice 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant is a good option. You could also try a silk pillow – silk is a natural fibre that prevents excess skin friction (resulting in less inflammation) and won't clog pores.

The position: side

The most popular sleeping position, if you’re a side-sleeper you’ve probably already noticed the creases on your face when you wake up.

It’s not uncommon for faces to be asymmetrical, and it’s often the side we sleep on that has more lines and deeper sagging, as most of us tend to prefer one side over the other.

This will result in an increase in crow’s feet, fine lines around the mouth, marionette lines (the lines running from the corner of your mouth towards your jaw) and those pesky vertical lines that appear on the décolletage.

The fix: Botulinum toxin and dermal fillers will help to relax and minimise facial creases and crow's feet. Profhilo is also a great option for plumping up the skin on the décolletage.

The position: back

This, according to dermatologists, is the ideal position if you want to keep your skin as line free and youthful as possible, as everything is off your face including your hair and any dirt and oil from your pillow.

Better still, dermatologists agree, is to prop your head up with an extra pillow to a 20–30 degree angle so that fluid drains from your face more efficiently. Sleeping on your back also keeps sagging and wrinkles at bay.

The skin saviour: To take down any residue morning puffiness, try a jade or gua sha tool to stimulate the circulation and perform some lymphatic drainage while lifting and plumping the skin.

Sleep training

Unfortunately, even if we start the night sleeping on our back, we tend to revert to our favourite position overnight. You can try propping some pillows around you, but otherwise it’s just a matter of turning yourself onto your back each time you wake.

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