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What Are Sleep Wrinkles? Why You Have Them + Why Taking Collagen Can Help

Jamie Schneider
June 3, 2020
Jamie Schneider
Beauty & Health Editor
By Jamie Schneider
Beauty & Health Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
June 3, 2020

Ever look into the mirror after a good night's sleep to find faded lines across your skin? Sometimes they're folded along your limbs—maybe your shoulders or chest if you're an avid stomach-sleeper—or perhaps you notice deep lines across your face like some sort of pillow scar. You might brush them off and begin your morning routine (after all, they signal a deep, restful sleep, no?), but you may want to pause before pumping the serum—those faint lines have the potential to turn into wrinkles. 

Here's the skinny on sleep wrinkles, plus what you can do to manage them before they stick around for good:

What are sleep wrinkles, and why do you get them? 

Sleep wrinkles aren't your average fine lines: While expression lines can form over time from repeatedly moving your face, these wrinkles form exclusively from your sleeping position—say, if you curl up on your side or sleep on your stomach, face smashed into the pillow. That's why one study on facial aging identified a distinct set of wrinkles that form from sleep alone, which brings us to the anecdotally dubbed "sleep wrinkles." 

It makes sense, no? If you sleep with your face smashed into the pillow for eight or some hours each night, that's quite a long time for the delicate skin on your face to endure that pressure. Not only that, but the skin is more permeable at night1, which means it is more vulnerable to transepidermal water loss (also why you might opt for a heavier night cream to seal in moisture; nighttime skin care is no joke). This means your skin is not only experiencing friction but may dry out faster, too. All things considered, of course you may wake up to some folds across your skin. 

Now, those indents tend to fade when you're young, as your plump skin is chock-full of collagen and can quite literally bounce back from the pressure. (Think of a firm mattress molding to your weight as you sleep, then filling out once you leave your cozy bed.) But as you grow older and your collagen levels start to decline, you may notice those lines stick around well after midmorning.

Good news: There's an easy way to promote beauty sleep.

That's not to say you can't do anything about it. Perhaps the best way to manage collagen loss is to, you know, add more collagen. Hydrolyzed collagen peptides, like those found in mbg's grass-fed collagen+, promote your body's natural production of collagen2 and other molecules that help the skin stay firm and taut, like elastin and fibrillin.* Studies also show that collagen supplements can promote healthy skin3 by enhancing firm texture, maintaining moisture, and—here's the kicker—smoothing fine lines.* Taz Bhatia, M.D., an integrative medicine physician and mbg Collective member, agrees: "[Collagen supplements] can manage skin wrinkling, providing the skin one of its basic ingredients to stay firm and taut," she says.* 

It makes sense that upping your collagen intake could help manage those sleep wrinkles, as our skin already repairs collagen while we sleep: "We have the highest cellular activity in the skin while we sleep, which means all of the collagen repair and antioxidant activity we crave happens when we are sleeping," naturopathic doctor Tess Marshall, N.D., reminds us about skin regeneration. Add some collagen supplements to the mix, and you could enhance that process by giving your body a much bigger supply to work with.*

Basically, your body already wants to give you the beauty sleep you deserve. And supplementing with collagen can support the natural process, making it a little easier to wake up with that lit-from-within glow.*

The takeaway. 

By naturally supplying your body with collagen, you can enhance your skin's texture and elasticity—allowing it to literally bounce back after a night of deep sleep.* Sleep wrinkles may be inevitable at some point, but it is possible to manage them before those folds stick around. As functional medicine doctor Robert Rountree, M.D., explains in an mbg podcast: "You can use collagen to reverse minor things, like crow's feet around the eyes but not once the skin's gotten too leathery and damaged." Perfect for those faint pillow lines across your skin.*

*If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.
Jamie Schneider author page.
Jamie Schneider
Beauty & Health Editor

Jamie Schneider is the Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and more. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.