We have all heard that sun exposure, smoking, hormones, and simply aging can cause wrinkles. But did you know that your 6-8 hours of beauty rest a night can also be a culprit for sleep wrinkles sometimes known as “pillow face”? In fact, behind making repetitive facial movements, sleep is the second cause of wrinkles.

What Are Sleep Wrinkles?

If you have ever woken up to lines and creases on your face—you have experienced sleep wrinkles, which are fine lines that can become permanent lines on your face and neck over time and as one ages.

What Causes Sleep Wrinkles?

As we stated above, wrinkles are caused by two main reasons: facial expressions and sleep. Expressions like frown lines, smile lines, 11s, and crow’s feet are caused by repetitive muscle contractions, thinning of the skin that happens with aging (from a loss of collagen and elastin), and skin laxity. Wrinkles caused by sleep develop due to the face and neck being distorted and compressed up against a pillow for hours a day. Over time, these lines worsen and can become permanent. The exact location of these facial and neck lines will vary greatly and be dependent on the sleep patterns of the individual.

At What Age Do Wrinkles (Including Sleep Wrinkles) Develop?

Genetics, sun exposure, lifestyle, whether one smokes, and quality of skin care are all factors that can contribute to wrinkles and aging skin. However, wrinkles generally present in individuals in their 30s-40s. When it comes to sleep wrinkles specifically, it has less to do with age and more to do with how a person sleeps. These types of wrinkles present when one first wakes up and then slowly disappear over time. Sleep wrinkles typically present first as a diagonal line at the junction of the outer eyelid and cheekbone. With nightly repetition and age, these wrinkles take longer and longer to disappear until they ultimately become a permanent wrinkle. Both expression wrinkles and sleep wrinkles worsen with age, unless treatments like Botox and similar neurotoxins are utilized to paralyze the muscles involved in the wrinkling.

How Can You Prevent Sleep Wrinkles?

So, now that you have a better idea of what sleep wrinkles are—how can you prevent the second leading cause of wrinkles? Below we break down five simple tips to keep sleep wrinkles at bay!

Try Sleeping On Your Back: When a person sleeps on their side bodies, it means that there is constant pressure on the face. Over time, this behavior can make the sleep wrinkles permanent. A quick, easy, and cheap remedy to this is to try sleeping on the back so that the pressure on the face is relieved. For some people, this may be uncomfortable, especially if the person is a side or stomach sleeper. However, over time, a person can get used to it.

Try A Sleep Wrinkle Pillow: If you can’t retrain yourself to sleep on your back, the next best solution is to try a sleep wrinkle pillow. In a recent independent study, JuveRest® The Sleep Wrinkle Pillow, one manufacturer of sleep wrinkle pillows, found that 24 of the 27 study participants saw visible improvement in their sleep wrinkles after 8 weeks of use. However, there are other manufacturers of pillows like these.

Consider Switching To Silk or Satin Sheets And Pillowcases: Along the same vein as a sleep wrinkle pillow, is switching out the fabric of your pillows to either silk or satin. While cotton, linen, flannel, and the like are incredibly comfortable and cozy, they tend to grip the skin more than other fabrics. Switching to a satin or silk pillow will alleviate this and cut down on facial creases, lines, and imprints while sleeping. The less likely your skin is to hold onto or grip a fabric, the less likely you will get sleep wrinkles. Silk and satin pillows have become quite common for this purpose, so there are plenty of options at varying price points.

Use Retinol Or A Night Cream: One of the most powerful anti-aging ingredients is retinol. This vitamin A derived product lessens and prevents fine lines and wrinkles, stimulates cell turnover, and the natural production of collagen and elastin, which is the key to youthful-looking skin. If you are younger, you can use an over-the-counter retinol-based product. Otherwise, if you are in your 30s or older, you can talk to your dermatologist about obtaining a prescription for Retin-A. Alternatively, you could wear a night cream, which tends to be thicker, to help minimize friction on the skin from bedding and to keep the skin hydrated.

Don’t Sleep With Your Hands By Your Face: A common way people sleep (sometimes without knowing) is with their hands pressed up against their face. If you care about preventing sleep wrinkles, this is a behavior that should be corrected. Just like skin can grip against certain textile types, hands pressed against the face during sleep can cause lateral pressure in the facial muscles that result in creasing and wrinkling. If possible, the best way to sleep is to avoid anything touching the face, including other body parts.


It seems counterintuitive that something like sleep that is supposed to provide so many health benefits can also be the culprit behind making one look older. But it all comes down to how one sleeps and the quality of the night’s rest. If sleep wrinkles are of concern, luckily there are a variety of inexpensive options and habit changes that can help prevent them.