How to Sleep with Long Hair to Protect the Health of Your Hair (2023)

Most proven ways to protect long hair while you sleep center on products that you apply overnight and hairstyling strategies to prevent breakage. Environmental factors, like moisture in your hair and your bedding, can also play a role.

Use a silk or satin pillowcase

This is a big one. If you tend to toss and turn in bed, your hair is rubbing against the thread fibers in your pillow each time you move. This can stress your hair and lead to frizz. Ultimately, it can even cause breakage.

A pillowcase with silk or satin fibers may reduce the amount of friction on your hair as you sleep. As an added bonus, these types of pillowcases may reduce the stretch and stress of your skin while you sleep, helping to stave off wrinkles caused by aging. Satin and silk are hypoallergenic and cooling fibers, as opposed to cotton.

Time your showers differently

If you go to sleep with even a small bit of moisture in your hair, it may be contributing to hair breakage or matted hair in the morning. Your hair strands are at their weakest when they contain moisture. Even the soundest sleeper will move their head a bit during the course of a night’s slumber, and that movement is more likely to tangle wet tresses.

If your schedule allows, try to wash your hair at an hour when it has plenty of time to air dry before you head to bed. Don’t forget to end your showers with a blast of colder water to help seal moisture into your hair. You may also want to blow dry your hair completely right before bed and use one of the styling suggestions below to keep your blowout fresh and your mane tangle-free.

Wrap your hair in a scarf or wrap

A hair wrap or scarf can mean that you’re not losing sleep over denting or crushing your freshly styled hair. Depending on your hair type, you might prefer to use a silk or satin material to reduce friction even more while you sleep.

By carefully wrapping your hair and tucking in any stray pieces away from your neck, you’re also avoiding any humidity or sweat that can get your hair frizzy.

Sleeping with your hair wrapped works best if you prefer to wake up with a smooth, straight hairstyle. Adding long bobby pins to your wrapped hair will make it extra secure and enhance the straightening effect. Brush your hair after you wake up and you’ll be good to go in the morning.

Brush before bed

Consider adding another kind of brushing to your bedtime regimen. By brushing out tangles or snarls from your hair before you go to bed, you’re being proactive about frizz and matted hair. You don’t have to take a long time to do it. Depending on your hair type, a simple paddle brush or a wide-toothed comb will work to brush out your hair before your style it for the night and go to sleep.

Switch to scrunchies

Elastic hairbands are the typical go-to when you’re securing your hair for the evening. But these elastics can actually put stress on your hair and scalp as they pull your hair back. This friction causes frizz and breakage. You might as well be sleeping with a rubber band in your hair.

Instead, tie hair back into a top knot using a fabric scrunchie made with, you guessed it, silk or satin. This will give your hair a break from the friction. You’ll be less likely to wake up with a visible “dent” in your hair where you pulled it back, so you’ll save valuable styling time in the morning.

Protect ends with an essential oil

The ends of your hair can bear the brunt of damage that happens while you sleep. Even if you sleep on your back, you might end up crushing longer locks without even knowing it.

You can help protect your ends by using essential oils before you head to bed. Argan oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, or even coconut oil are all good places to start. Secure your hair in a braid or with a fabric scrunchie, then warm a few drops of the oil between your palms by rubbing your hands together. You only need a tiny bit. Apply the oil to your hair, focusing especially on the ends. This can help seal your hair against friction and prevent split ends from getting started.

Condition your hair while you sleep

Just because your hair should be dry when you sleep, doesn’t mean it should be drying out and dehydrated when you wake up. If you wake up often with hair that’s frizzy and hard to tame, a leave-in conditioner may be the answer. Before styling and securing your hair for the night, a spritz or two of leave-in conditioner with protein or keratin may actually strengthen your strands while you snooze.

The best leave-in conditioner will vary depending on your hair type. Hair that’s prone to drying out will thrive with a leave-in conditioner that hydrates. Hair that tends to be oily might benefit from a leave-in that’s a lighter formula with botanical extracts and not a lot of other extras. Formulas that come in a spray bottle and are meant to be applied to dry hair are your best bet.

Sleep with braids

If you want to wake up with wavy locks instead of navigating tangles, try braiding your long hair before bed. Any type of braid will do, whether it’s a single braid, several smaller braids, or even a French braid, if you want to get fancy.

Secure your braid at the bottom using a small scrunchie instead of an elastic. If you want to give your hair extra protection, you can arrange the braid as a top knot on your head or simply wrap the braid and secure it to your head, away from the nape of your neck. This will keep your hair free from sweat, moisture, and friction.

Use a hair serum or hair mask

Lightweight hair serum can help tame frizz while you are sleeping, as can a hair mask that’s safe for overnight use. Keep in mind that you’re not looking to make your hair damp or swell the follicles of your hair with any product that you use overnight. You’re simply looking to add and seal in moisture, without adding weight or friction to your hair.

Avoid anything with an acidic component (like citric acid or apple cider vinegar), as those are not safe to keep on your hair for more than 6 hours. Also, avoid heavy protein additives like egg, which can weigh down your hair and make breakage more likely. Stick with light botanicals (like peppermint oil or aloe vera) that can seal in shine, stimulate your scalp, and make detangling easier in the morning.

Plug in a fan or humidifier in your bedroom

Any form of heat can zap moisture out of the air, taking a toll on your hair. That can include the heating unit in your bedroom.

Keep the air current moving in your room with a fan so that you don’t get sweaty at night and wake up with damp hair. You may also consider a humidifier to add moisture back into your bedroom’s air.

The best way to protect long hair while you sleep is to gently secure it. Sleeping with free-flowing tresses may sound picturesque, but the reality is that you’re likely going to wake up with a sweaty, tangled mess if you don’t find a way to secure your hair overnight.

The secret is not to pull your hair so tightly against your head that it puts pressure on the scalp while you sleep. Your hair should be secure enough that it can’t snarl or tangle, but not styled in a way that encourages friction or breakage.

Good options for wearing your hair to bed include:

  • a loose, functional top knot piled at the crown of your head and secured with a fabric scrunchie
  • one or more loose braids at the nape of your neck
  • hair wrapped in a headscarf or turban

The things that you don’t do with your hair at night can be as important as following the tips above and securing your hair gently for the evening. Since long hair is prone to breaking and getting tangled, it’s especially important to keep these things in mind when you’re trying to preserve longer locks.

  • Don’t sleep with your hair in a ponytail. Use one of the other styles above, like a loose bun or braid.
  • Avoid metal clips and elastics. Switch to a more sleep-friendly option, like a satin scrunchie.
  • Don’t fall asleep with wet hair. And even if you can’t avoid it, at least secure your hair and brush it out before you fall asleep.

It’s possible to protect (and even nourish) your long locks while you sleep. This process can involve a bit of trial and error, so you may want to try the tips above one at a time to see what’s going to work for you.

Consider your hair type and whether your hair already has damage from chemical treatments as you decide what might work best. If you’re worried about breakage and frizz, ask a hair care professional to see if they have any other ideas for your specific hair concerns.


How to Sleep with Long Hair to Protect the Health of Your Hair? ›

The Case for an Updo Before Bed

It's more about protecting your hair to reduce friction so you don't risk breakage or waking up with a tangled mess. If you have long hair, you can pull your hair back or put it up. If you choose to sleep with hair up, avoid metal or rubber hair ties, which can lead to breakage.

How can I protect my long hair while sleeping? ›

How To Protect Your Hair While Sleeping?
  1. Brush Your Hair Before Going To Bed. ...
  2. Never Sleep With Wet Hair. ...
  3. Apply Overnight Hair Serum. ...
  4. Moisturize Your Hair With Warm Oil Treatment. ...
  5. Massage Your Scalp. ...
  6. Use Satin/Silk Pillowcase. ...
  7. Wear A Sleep Cap Or Scarf.
Sep 15, 2022

Should you sleep with long hair up or down? ›

The Case for an Updo Before Bed

It's more about protecting your hair to reduce friction so you don't risk breakage or waking up with a tangled mess. If you have long hair, you can pull your hair back or put it up. If you choose to sleep with hair up, avoid metal or rubber hair ties, which can lead to breakage.

What is the healthiest way to sleep with long hair? ›

Wrap your hair in a scarf or wrap

By carefully wrapping your hair and tucking in any stray pieces away from your neck, you're also avoiding any humidity or sweat that can get your hair frizzy. Sleeping with your hair wrapped works best if you prefer to wake up with a smooth, straight hairstyle.

What is the healthiest way to put your hair up? ›

Whilst we know a high ponytail can cause damage, a high, loose bun is a much better option. There are a few methods to make a high bun. You can firstly, use the same method as a low bun, where you twist the hair around itself.

What is the best position to sleep in for your hair? ›

The verdict is in: Sleeping with your hair back is an incredibly effective way to minimize frizz and knots. If you have breakage-prone or easily tangled strands, developing the habit of sleeping with your hair in a bun, ponytail, or braid is one of the easiest stylist-approved tricks you can try.

What is a protective hairstyle for bed? ›

If you want a protective hairstyle for long hair, choose one that doesn't wrap as tightly, resulting in kinks. A top bun is an excellent way to keep your long hair in place while sleeping. To make a twisted bun, all you have to do is twist all of your hair on top of your head and secure it with a claw clip.

Should you sleep with hair in a bun? ›

"As long as the style does not place traction on roots, meaning it doesn't pull too tight or 'hurt' the next morning, it should be fine," she says. If it doesn't hurt, or if your elastic tends to slip out as you sleep, you're probably fine.

What is considered long hair? ›

If your strands reach past your shoulders, it's considered long. You can opt for a mid-back length cut or grow it out to your tailbone for extralong hair.

Why is it good to braid your hair at night? ›

Braid your hair before going to sleep. This old trick works every time and is one of the best ways to wear your hair when sleeping. It not only protects your hair – stopping it from tangling and breaking – but also gives you gorgeous beachy waves the next day and cuts down on frizz.

How often should you wash your hair? ›

When to wash. Rossi generally tells his patients they should wash their hair once or twice per week. But if you've had chemical treatments that can make your hair drier — such as bleach, perms or relaxers — you might want to wash it less than once weekly to avoid breaking or brittle hair or split ends, he said.

Should you tie long hair up at night? ›

'It's much better to tie your hair up before you go to bed, particularly if you have long hair, so that it doesn't tangle during the night and suffer breakage the next morning when you try and brush it out,' explains Dr Alia.

Is it good to cover hair while sleeping? ›

Is it good to cover your hair while sleeping? Yes, covering your hair while sleeping can be beneficial, especially if you use a satin or silk pillowcase or a hair wrap. These materials can reduce friction between your hair and the pillowcase, minimizing hair breakage, frizz, and tangles.

Should I wrap my hair at night? ›

The Benefits of Wrapping Your Hair at Night

Bonnets keep your hair in place and make it easier to refresh and fluff your hair in the morning. They do all this because they are an extra layer between your hair and your pillowcase. Less friction means less frizz.”

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