Sleeping With Wet Hair? Here’s How To Do It Right

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Written by Sophie Mara

Updated: May 10, 2024

If you’ve ever fallen asleep with wet hair, knowingly or accidentally, you’ll know that, most of the time… it’s a terrible idea. You wake up with dry, brittle ends, tangles that feel near impossible to brush out, and usually one side that’s comically flatter than the other.

Most of the time, it’s a recipe for disaster and if you can avoid it, we highly recommend you do. 

That said, sometimes sleeping with wet hair is a necessity.

Maybe it’s summertime and you just can’t stand the heat of your blow dryer. Perhaps you’re trying a new style that requires damp locks to set the look in place. There’s also a strong possibility you completely mistimed your evening shower and now you’re too tired to do anything about it (we all know it’s this one).

Whatever your reasons for drifting off to the land of nod with wet hair, do yourself a favor. Follow these simple yet effective tips for sleeping with wet hair so you can actually leave the house in the morning without a full re-wash.

Why Is It Bad To Sleep With Wet Hair?

We’ll get into why sleeping with wet hair is bad for your hair health soon (nobody needs to be creating split ends in their sleep!). But first, let’s talk about what it can do to your scalp.

As any dermatologist will tell you, damp environments are the worst kind of breeding ground for bacteria and, whether you want to believe it or not, fungus. So, when you leave your hair wet before bed, your scalp can quickly become irritated feeling dry, flaky, and sore to the touch.

Doing this once or twice now and then may not cause tons of issues. But, if you do it repeatedly, your scalp will certainly start to let you know about it. 

Never Fall Asleep With Dripping Wet Hair

We get it. You showered, got into your pj’s, and now your eyes suddenly feel one million times heavier. The temptation is there but please, and we really mean this, don’t fall asleep with hair that’s still dripping wet from the shower. 

First of all, let’s be honest, there’ll be no salvaging sopping wet locks you didn’t even run a brush through. Secondly, falling asleep on hair that’s well and truly soaked is a recipe for long-lasting damage. 

Wet hair is much more delicate than dry hair and prone to stretching when too much tension is applied. That’s why we’re always careful when detangling our locks fresh from the shower. They can easily stretch and eventually split and snap.

As you turn over on your pillow through the night, you create this same tugging action. Let your hair begin to air dry or go in with a towel to pat away the excess moisture at the very least. 

Avoid Your Hair Soaking Your Pillowcase and Sheets

Aside from the fact wet sheets are seriously uncomfortable to sleep on, leaving your hair so wet that the moisture transfers to your pillowcase can have some nasty health implications. 

No, it’s not that you’ll catch a cold, that’s a myth. Viruses cause colds, not simply having wet hair.

That said, if you continue to sleep with wet locks, you may find bacteria growing on your pillowcase which can affect the respiratory system. This bacteria can also cause fungal infections, like scalp ringworm, and even cause breakouts!

Shower Earlier

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image via @strands_hair

Don’t get us wrong, we love a soothing nighttime shower as much as the next person. It’s seriously calming and a great way to prepare your mind and body for a good night’s rest.

However, if you plan to wash your hair and leave it wet whilst you sleep, showering ten minutes before getting under the covers will wreak havoc on your hair. 

The good news is, you don’t need to forgo your evening shower all together. You just need to adjust your timing a little.

Bringing your shower forward by an hour, or even 30 minutes, can drastically change how your hair looks and feels in the morning. The extra time to dry off will make it far less prone to tangling, splitting, or snapping.

Towel Dry Your Hair With A Microfiber Towel

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image via @blackbasichome

Done right, towel drying your hair can be super effective. With the right kind of towel and the correct technique, you can rid your hair of much more post-shower water than you might think.

So, even if you’ve left it late to wash your hair and you know there’s no chance you’ll be reaching for your blowdryer before bed, at least grab a towel and soak up as much moisture as possible before lying down.

Oh, and while we’re talking about towels, never sleep with your hair twisted up in yours. Not only will you be putting tons of tension on your strands in their most delicate state, but you’ll also end up with loads of tangles and possibly even a heavily irritated scalp. 

What Is The Best Way To Towel Dry Hair?

To nail this simple yet effective technique, make sure you’re using the right kind of towel. Cotton is great for drying off your skin after a bath or shower, but it can be a little too harsh and drying for your hair.

Instead, we recommend investing in a good-quality microfibre towel. They’re softer and kinder to delicate wet locks yet still highly absorbent. They also glide along the hair so they won’t damage the cuticle leaving you with reduced frizz in the morning. 

For Curly Hair…

If your hair is curly, start by tilting your head to one side allowing your hair to hang freely. Then, take your towel in both hands and carefully scrunch it upwards to remove the water. Keep doing this until the hair is as dry as possible.

Move the towel around to find new dry spots as you go. At your roots, simply pat the towel against your head to remove excess moisture. It may seem on paper like this will do nothing, but trust us, those microfibre towels are much more absorbent than you think!

For Straight Hair…

If you’re rocking straight locks simply pat and gently squeeze the hair in small sections – avoid scrunching if you don’t want a curl. This won’t completely dry your hair of course, but it’s much better than going to be with sopping wet hair.

Once you’ve finished towel drying, take a paddle or de-tangling brush (or a wide tooth comb if you wear your hair curly), and give it a brush through to remove any tangles. Remember, always work from the bottom upwards to avoid drag. Repeat the process again if your hair still feels super wet. 

Swap Out Your Pillowcase

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image via @silkmagnolia

While a soft cotton pillowcase might seem like the kindest option for your hair, it could be doing those beloved tresses more harm than good. Silk pillowcases, however, are much more breathable and allow your hair to slide around freely – the hair glides along this fabric without stretching or snapping.

And yes, though pure silk pillowcases are more expensive and, therefore, seem better for your hair, manmade satin pillowcases will work wonders too!

Additionally, as we covered in the beginning, damp surfaces like the one you create sleeping with wet hair, mean the place you rest your head every night could be harboring some nasty bacteria.

So, if you have to sleep with your hair wet, always wash your pillowcase the next day. Look out for those locks and lay your head on a fresh, clean, and most importantly, dry surface the following night!

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