Does sleeping on one side of your face affect beard growth?

Noticing that your beard is growing faster or slower on one side your face is completely normal. I certainly notice that my beard is much thicker on the right-hand side of my face and is more obvious when my beard is shorter. This also happens to be the side of the face that I primarily sleep on. So that got me to fit thinking – does sleeping on one side of your face affect beard growth? In this article, we’re going to go over all of the science of sleeping and what the implications of sleeping on your beard could mean for its growth.

There is no evidence to suggest that sleeping on one side of your face will affect beard growth. In fact, getting a good night sleep will help you grow a thicker and bigger beard no matter how you sleep. BUT there are other things that’ll give the illusion that your beard is weaker on one side.

It is only natural that our beards get smashed into the pillow as we sleep. Although the pressure of your head on your beard as you rest on the pillow is unlikely to affect the growth, it can cause beard problems such as beard hair breakage. Later in this article, we will go through how you can protect your beard while sleeping and the products and tips for looking after your beard while you snooze peacefully.

Does sleeping on your face affect beard growth?

Sleeping is a very large part of our lives. For an adult between 18 to 60 years old you need approximately seven or more hours per night. As you get older you need somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep.

Does sleeping on one side of your face affect beard growth

The quality of your sleep is very important and is vital for the repair and maintenance of your body – including your beard.

An adult human head can weigh anywhere from 3.6 kg up to 5.4 kg. Accounting for approximately 8% of your body mass.

With all of that pressure pressing down on your beard and, potentially, twisting and bending the beard hairs could it cause any issues with your beard growth?

I scoured the scientific literature to find out if there were any studies performed on hair growth and pressure while sleeping. Although I couldn’t find any specific studies which directly answer this question there were a ton of different peer-reviewed papers which looked at various aspects of human physiology while sleeping.

These are the most important studies that I could find.

What the science says

There is no doubt in the scientific literature that pressure and pillow type can make a huge difference to certain aspects of the human body.

Skin wrinkling

For example, a 2011 study investigated the influence of sleep on the formation of facial wrinkles. They found that during sleep the face contorts producing crows feet, lines around the mouth, flattening of the forehead and all sorts of blunting of the nose. They were able to design an alternative pillow which reduced these effects by redistributing the pressure from the wrinkling parts of the face.

Given that so much pressure is placed on the face during sleep and can cause physiological changes such as wrinkles means that there is enough pressure to actively change the folds and wrinkles under your beard. The pressure of the face could potentially close off capillaries and blood supply to certain parts of the beard – however, this study does not explicitly support this.

Skin ulsers at high pressure areas

Another study, published in 2010 shows us the importance of regularly turning in your bed to prevent any adverse side effects. This paper looked at the lateral turning on the skin bed interface pressures and its effectiveness at reducing bedsores. This study specifically looked at the lower areas of the body where the pressure between the skin and the bed is much higher.

They found that the position of the body on the bed can significantly change the amount of weight which is applied to a certain area.

Given that the head is relatively heavy if you were to not move during the night there is a very small chance that you could affect the skin underneath the beard causing adverse effects to your beard growth. Once again, this article does not directly address that but we can extrapolate a little bit to what may happen to the skin under a beard given the pressure exerted by the weight of the head.

Temperature of the skin

The temperature of your face while you are sleeping is also dependent on the type of pillow that you are using. A study published in 1996 showed that there was a significant difference in the forehead skin temperatures of people using a special cooling pillow versus a polyester pillow.

Making sure that you use a pillow which evenly distributes your weight whilst also providing some cooling could be a way of minimising the effect of the weight of your head on your beard. However, a pillow which has cooling materials and it may result in a deeper sleep which means that you are less likely to turn over in the night and relieve some of the pressure on your beard.

If you want to know more about whether or not beard grow faster when you sleep and the effect of sleep on testosterone and metabolism check out my other article where I go through all of the other science that could be affecting your beard while you are sleeping – click here to be taken to full article.

The bottom line: none of the science actually answers this question directly. Until someone performs an exact study on this question we can use the studies above to take an educated guess of what happens to our beards while we are sleeping on them.

Sleeping on your beard creates a combination of increased wrinkling in the skin and pressure on the skin which can reduce blood flow in certain areas.

However, using a good quality pillow that distributes the pressure across your head evenly and also provides some cooling will help you from damaging your beard while you sleep.

Given what we know about the science here are some of the things that could affect your beard while you are sleeping or give the appearance that your beard is growing slower on one side of your face.

How it may affect growth and appearance

It could be that you think one side of your face is not growing properly due to sleep because of extra hair breakage on one side, flattening of the hair on one side or static on your beard. First thing in the morning it is very hard to tell what your beard is doing.

I know that when I wake up first thing in the morning my beard is completely lopsided and one side of my face or an area under my chin is particularly flattened. This is typically just because I have slept on that side of the face predominantly throughout the night.

Restricted blood flow

Given the science, I think that there is a very small but real chance that your beard is not getting the nutrients it needs because of restricted blood flow due to pressure at the skin – pillow – interface.

This, however, needs to be stated with a huge caveat – if you are sleeping normally throughout the night this effect is almost certainly negligible in terms of the effect it causes on your beard growth.

As long as you are not waking up with significant tingling or numbness in one side of your face it is likely that your pillow supports your head appropriately and distributes the weight across your head so that it is not an issue for your beard.

Extra breakage on one side

Your beard may look like it is not growing on one side of your face simply because the hair is breaking while you are sleeping.

The regular twisting and turning of your face on the pillow can introduce a lot of torsional strain at the base of the hair and also throughout the full hair fibre. If the hair twists significantly and then has pressure applied there is a chance that you can break the keratin structure and cause the hair to die or fall out.

All of these effects are multiplied when your hair is wet. Wet hair is particularly easy to damage as it is significantly weaker. Water migrates into the bonds holding the hair together and makes it much easier for the protein structure to be broken through mechanical stress.

If you want to know more ways for stopping beard breakage check out my other article where a go through everything you need to know – click here to be taken to article.

Stop beard breakage

Flatter hair on one side

If you sleep on your sides or front you can flatten one side of your beard. This flattening on one side of your face can make it look like your beard is longer than the other side. Beards are typically very curly and wiry. And, as beard owners, we spend a lot of time trying to make the beard lay as flat as possible and grow down. If you want to read more about why your beard is so wiry and what you can do about it I’ve got another science-based article – click here to read why your beard is so wiry

This is one of the optical illusions that can cause you to think that sleeping on one side of your face is causing your beard to grow unevenly. Also, we can’t forget that your beard is rubbing up against a material which can introduce a fair amount of static.

Static on your beard

Your pillow is probably the only bits of material that your beard rubs up against for many hours each day.

If you have a synthetic pillowcase you can easily cause static to build up within the hair which will make it look cushier and longer in the mornings.

Synthetic fibres are going to be worse for your beard than natural fibres and, ultimately, a nice smooth satin or silk pillowcase will be the best way that you can reduce the static on your beard which could give the impression that it is bushier on one side and the other. When, in fact, it is just a simple electrostatic interaction which will be solved after a shower and blowdry.

There are a couple of things you can do about this including buying a beard wrap for sleeping. For my full comparison guide for the best beard wrap for sleeping check out this article – click here.

How to protect your beard while sleeping

If you want to be 100% sure that your beard is protected while you are sleeping here are the five things that I would do. These are easy and cost-effective and will ensure that the mechanical stress that is inevitably put on your beard while you are sleeping is dramatically reduced.

Don’t go to bed with wet beard hair

Firstly, do not go to bed with wet beard hair. Hair is incredibly strong and a single strand of hair can carry up to 100 g of weight. It is strong because of the three layered structure where keratin fibres in the middle provide the same strength as a fingernail.

Because the hair is comprised of protein (keratin) with cuticles on the outside – water is able to easily penetrate under the cuticle flaps and penetrate the keratin. The keratin interrupts the bonds making the hair much easier to damage. As the hair is stretched through movements of your face on your pillow it can deformed the outer protective layer and damage the hair fibre.

Use a beard wrap

if you are a stomach sleeper and you cannot get away from sleeping on your beard I highly recommend purchasing a beard wrap.

Beard wraps are also called beard bandannas, beard durags, beard bonnets, beard guards, and beard rags.

They are becoming increasingly popular to wear at night by bearded people all over the world. They are an excellent way to protect your beard while sleeping and they are the only dedicated beard product on this list that could actually help you protect your beard as you sleep.

If you want a full run down on the effects of beard wraps check out my other article the best beard wrap for sleeping? A full comparison guide – click here.

Beard wrap for sleeping

A beard wrap can also be made with any sort of satin or silk like material. You can tie around your face like a bandanna and although it may not be as comfortable as a commercially available one it will still do the trick of protecting your beard.

Choose your beard wrap wisely and focus on comfort.

Sleep in your back

Training yourself to sleep on your back will be one of the easiest ways to alleviate any pressure on your beard.

If you want to sleep on your back there are a number of ways to make sure that you end up there. The easiest way is to put a pillow either side of yourself so that you can secure your sleeping position. A good head pillow for sleeping on your back is something that is of a medium loft and softness because if it is too high you’re probably end up putting your neck into an uncomfortable position.

Silk pillowcases

If you are a side sleeper and you do not want to change that the next best option is to purchase a silk pillow. A silk pillow will minimise the amount of friction that is caused during your tossing and turning at night and will be a frictionless surface so your hairs can move around with your movements.

Silk pillowcases are good for your skin as well as your facial hair.

It does not strip your face or skin of the natural oils like cotton can. You shouldn’t use a silk pillowcase in combination with beard oil because it will end up all over the bed. If you want to know more about using beard oil at night check out my other article where I talk about whether or not applying beard oil before bed is a waste of time and money – click here.

If you do not want to purchase a dedicated silk pillow case you can also buy the material or use a cheap silk scarf on your pillow. You will need to find out some way to keep it in position throughout the night maybe with some clips on the underside of the pillow. But it is a cheap and effective way to try out the benefits of a silk pillow without spending loads of money on one initially.

Hair tie

If you have a particularly long beard you may want to consider using a hair tie to keep your beard out of the way and off the pillow. You can tie it to one side if you have a preference for the side that you sleep on.

I recommend that you tie the beard tie under the chin to keep all of the hair facing forward. That way if you are a side sleeper you will have flat surfaces on both sides of your face.

Summary

In this article, we have gone over everything you need to know about sleeping on one side of your face and whether or not it affects beard growth. Ultimately, a person who is sleeping soundly and normally and wakes up rested has nothing to fear. It is likely that the quality sleep you are getting will do more for your beard than the dangers of sleeping on it.

The Author


Andy Stapleton

Andy is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. He has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He is an avid beard grower and after many years of growing and trialing different beard styles, he started this blog to share the tips, tricks, and science that he has learned along the way!