How do I stop sleeping on my side?
February 26, 2009 9:39 AM   Subscribe

I'm getting wrinkles from keeping my face mashed up against my pillow all night long. How do I train myself to stop sleeping on my side?

They're very slight, mostly around my eyes and the sides of my forehead, but I fear what these may become in another 10 years or so. I've tried on and off for the past couple years to change my sleeping position, but to no avail. My most comfortable position is to sleep on one side of my face, with an arm underneath the pillow. I find it very difficult to fall asleep facing straight up; moreover, even when I accomplish this, I inevitably wake up the next morning back in my old position. I've tried sleeping between two pillows, to prevent my head from turning over, and while this makes it somewhat easier to fall asleep, it doesn't seem to help with the shifting during the night. Any ideas?
posted by decoherence to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've heard that one purported remedy for sleep apnea is to attach tennis balls to the back of a shirt (one site suggested sewing pockets and sticking the tennis balls in them) to make sleeping on one's back uncomfortable. I can't vouch for effectiveness, but maybe you could attach tennis balls to the sides of your shirt and try that for a while to train yourself?
posted by xiaolongbao at 9:48 AM on February 26, 2009

No idea about the sleep position thing, but Frownies can help prevent nocturnal face-scrunching.
posted by Bardolph at 9:50 AM on February 26, 2009

What makes you think that the position in which you sleep can cause wrinkles? I think that your initial supposition is faulty.
posted by amro at 9:55 AM on February 26, 2009 [6 favorites]

Maybe, on balance, the stress-busting benefits of a good night's sleep will help with the wrinkles more than forcing yourself into a different position?
posted by BadMiker at 9:56 AM on February 26, 2009

So are you trying to fall asleep and stay asleep on your back? I'm confused about what you're trying to do. It sounds like you sleep on your stomach/face (like me), and at first I thought you were trying to sleep on your side. But your title says the opposite. When I sleep on my side, only the side of my head touches the pillow, not my face.

I do have some possible suggestions, but I wanted to clarify first.
posted by peep at 10:04 AM on February 26, 2009

I do this. And think the same thing. I have started to use a super soft down pillow that I can scrunch between the side of my head and my arm. I scrunch it back enough so that my face is in the air, so to speak, but the weight of my head is centered around my ear and behind it, which is the part that comes in contact with the pillow. A bit odd, but I sleep great, just like before.
posted by Vaike at 10:11 AM on February 26, 2009

They're very slight, mostly around my eyes and the sides of my forehead, but I fear what these may become in another 10 years or so.

Uh, those happen with age, whether you sleep on your side, back, or not at all. They're called crow's feet. Welcome to aging.

Try using a moisturizer with SPF. Wrinkles are likely worsened by UV damage.
posted by gramcracker at 10:23 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Vaike: exactly! It also helps keep the pillow from obstructing nasal airways.

Truthfully, I don't know how changeable sleep positions are. They seem to be very unconscious. You know how it just doesn't feel right until you get into that one position? That's all subconscious stuff and I think that, as you've discovered, the brain will put you there after you're asleep.
posted by trinity8-director at 10:27 AM on February 26, 2009

While I would advise not to worry about this. It can be really hard to switch sleeping positions, and for what? less wrinkles? I say a comfortable sleep is worth it!

You may need to switch pillows. People who sleep on their back supposedly need a thinner soft pillow. The more comfortable you are the less likely you are to change positions?
posted by Gor-ella at 11:00 AM on February 26, 2009

First of all, I agree that you are mistaken about the cause of your wrinkles, however:

How do I sleep on my back?, And then I woke up... including my personal triumph.

In my experience, it just takes practice. I used to only be able to sleep on my side, then eventually I was able to fall asleep on my back but would wake up on my side. Just the other day I noticed that I went to sleep on my back and woke up exactly the same way.
posted by Who_Am_I at 11:14 AM on February 26, 2009

I sleep with my arms over my head, laying on my back. You might be able to try that instead of with your arms at your side, but I'm inclined to agree with trinity8-director, that these things are pretty ingrained. When my son was a newborn, he'd curl up on his back with his arms over his head, exactly how I sleep. (His mother being a side sleeper) that can't be a learned behavior.
posted by jrishel at 11:17 AM on February 26, 2009

A local Alexander Technique instructor could help you with that (as well as improve your life in many other ways). I took a course through my university, and there was a very specific course of exercises for gradual switching to a healthy sleeping position, but you will need someone to show you what to do and how to benefit the most from it.
posted by halogen at 11:21 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: To clarify: I normally sleep on my side, with the side of my face on the pillow. The wrinkles are being formed from the creases that result from basically smashing my cheek into a weird position all night long. They're occurring diagonally below my eyes, and diagonally on my forehead.

I don't have any crow's feet -- these aren't the standard aging wrinkles. I'm nearly positive they're resulting from my sleep position because 1). they're much more pronounced when I wake up in the morning -- they sometimes appear read, in fact, and 2). they're occurring in the exact spots that crease when I push my face in, i.e., to replicate a sleeping position. They don't conform to any normal facial expressions (as aging wrinkles would), but rather, to the "expression" my skin takes on while sleeping in the position I do, if that makes sense.
posted by decoherence at 11:45 AM on February 26, 2009

Apparently using satin pillowcases prevents the formation of wrinkles - something to do with the fabric dragging less on your skin than cotton , it would seem.
posted by kumonoi at 12:29 PM on February 26, 2009

Yeah, I think you're just going to have to learn how to sleep on your back. FWIW, I've had to sleep on my back after surgeries and I found it quite easy, but once the pain was gone I resorted back to my usual ways. I've noticed on myself the same forehead crease that you mention.
posted by ob at 1:12 PM on February 26, 2009

I have found that staying well hydrated keeps those nasty pillow creases from showing up. You know, the lines left from folds in the pillow case. I'm not sure if you are talking about the same thing.
posted by sadtomato at 9:20 PM on February 27, 2009

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