What if I told you that the best way to preserve your youthful complexion was completely free? You’d probably search the immediate vicinity for any potential gas leaks, because who in their right mind would say such a thing? I mean, a quick scan of the skincare section of Sephora would immediately refute this insane statement, right?
Surprisingly enough, it’s actually true. Models know it, actresses know it, plastic surgeons and dermatologists know it, and now you will soon be in possession of this elusive missing piece in the puzzle that comprises the Fountain of Youth. While it might be free, it might not be an easy adjustment to make — but mastering it can benefit your entire body, not just your skin.
Make the switch
Here’s the big secret: sleep on your back. That’s it. Sleeping on your back has a multitude of benefits for your skin and much more; if you can work through the initial discomfort of training yourself into a new sleeping position, you’ll see improvements in your body well past the appearance of your skin.
Sleeping on your back aligns your body into its most natural resting position devoid of any spinal contortions, alleviating pressure on your neck, lower back, and internal organs by evenly distributing your body weight. If you’re lying flat, or with a pillow under your knees to support your lower back and hips, your lungs are able to expand and contract fully while you sleep, and the other vital organs in your body are given space to rest and regenerate properly.
The pressure that your sleeping position puts on various parts of your body can cause stress on your organs and spine and, most noticeably, your skin. Aside from all the benefits that back sleeping has for your whole body, sleeping on your side or stomach is probably aging your skin faster and might be the culprit behind your breakouts, redness, and irritation.
Why it matters for your skin
The concept of “beauty sleep” has often been referred to as the amount of sleep you get consistently each night — we accept that we should get between 7 to 8 hours of rest in order to be in tip top shape. However, your sleeping position has just as much of an impact on your skin as getting adequate rest each night.
Unless you’re washing your pillow cases every single night, they are a breeding ground of trouble for your skin. Between your hair products, sweat, and leftover skincare that transfers onto your pillowcases each night, you’re continuously pressing your skin against bacteria and pore-clogging agents. Combining comedogenic hair products and sweat with friction and constant pressure — you’re setting your skin up for major irritation.
Sleeping on your stomach or side means your skin is being pressed against wrinkled fabric all night. If you’ve ever woken up with imprints from your pillows or sheets on your face, you’re seeing what eventually will be real fine lines and wrinkles on your face if you continue to sleep this way. Pressure and heating up the skin allows for collagen to break down quicker, and applying unnatural positioning of the muscles in your face and neck will weaken them over time.
Additionally, sleeping on your back allows for proper lymphatic drainage throughout the night. If you wake up with puffy eyes or swollen red cheeks, or any redness for that matter, changing the way you sleep will correct the problem of fluid retention.
How to do it
Despite being the healthiest sleeping position, sleeping on your back hardly feels natural to most people. It is entirely possible to train yourself into being a back sleeper; you just have to be a little patient with the process. Here are a few pointers to help get you started, as well as some of our favorite sleep products.
If your head feels unsupported at first without being up against your pillow, try sleeping on an incline by stacking your pillows to support not only your head up higher but also your upper torso. If you still find it difficult, roll up a t-shirt or sweater into a small support pillow and place it next to the side of your face you would normally sleep on.
If you experience tightness or pain in your lower back, place a pillow behind your knees to create more support for your lower vertebrae. It’s also helpful to stretch a little before hopping into bed so that you can loosen up your hamstrings and hip flexors — both are likely to be stiff if you work from a desk. Don’t stress about doing a full body stretch, just get into downward dog for a minute or two and stretch out your calves, ankles, hips, and lower back.