If you have color-treated, dry, or damaged hair, you probably already take special caution to make sure you don't cause any breakage. Using moisturizing masks, heat protectants, avoiding heat in general, and using scrunchies instead of elastic are all great, but there's even more you could be doing. There are plenty of ways to protect your hair while you're sleeping, because all that tossing and turning and whatever else goes on when you're in your deep slumber can totally cause you more damage without you even realizing it. Yikes!
Even though sleeping seems peaceful enough, you don't totally know what goes on when you shut your eyes and fall asleep. You could be tossing and turning and unintentionally pulling or creating friction, or you could make a habit of going to bed with your hair up with an elastic in your hair for eight-plus hours. If you take good care of your hair in your day-to-day life, you'll also want to make sure it's protected while you're asleep, too.
If you have damaged hair, or just want to make sure your hair stays as healthy and strong as possible, try these seven ways to help protect your hair while you're sleeping.
1. Dry Your Hair Before Going To Bed
Your hair is its weakest when it's wet, so by sleeping on wet hair it is extra susceptible to breakage. Make sure your hair is dry before you fall asleep. Microfiber hair towels are a great way to speed up drying time without heat. This set of three is a great value that lets you share with your housemates or just have an extra for travel and laundry day. With a 4.6-star rating on Amazon, fans are saying things like: "These work great to dry hair faster and they stay in place! I’ve noticed my hair hasn’t been as frizzy as when I used regular towels to wrap up my hair after getting out of the shower."
2. Use A Scrunchie Instead Of Elastics
If you're going to pull your hair back, do not secure it with an elastic. Instead, use a soft scrunchie. This set of 18 different styles give you a lot of fun style options while being strong enough to hold hair in place.
And when you tie it, how matters. A too-high ponytail or bun can damage and break your hair. Instead, sleep with it down, or if you have to tie it back, go with a low ponytail or loose braid at the nape of your neck.
3. Sleep On Silk Pillowcases
Silk (or satin) is far more gentle on your hair than average pillowcases and will help reduce breakage. This 100 percent natural mulberry silk pillowcase is a cult favorite with more than 5,000 reviews and a 4.5-star rating. With a hidden zipper and multiple sizes to choose from, it'll fit most pillows securely but not snag your hair while you sleep, either. There are more than 30 color and pattern options, too.
Being stressed can damage your health in a lot of ways, and according to the American Academy of Dermatology, stress can be harmful for skin and hair, too. Essential oils are a tried and true way to decompress at the end of the day, and Marlynn Wei M.D., J.D. says in a PsychologyToday.com story that lavender essential oil has some of the most research into its relaxing benefits and has even been shown to help with mild insomnia. She says oils can be "diluted by water and diffused into the air or a few drops can be gently rubbed into acupressure points on the body."
5. Brush Before Bed
Don't go to bed with tons of tangles in your hair that could only get worse while you're tossing in the night. Instead, brush your hair before bed so that you're tangle-free. Suitable for both wet and dry hair, this best-selling brush is designed with extra-soft bristles that undo tangles without being harsh, dramatically reducing hair breakage. "I got the two pack so I have one in my bathroom at home, and I keep one in my purse for when I'm on the go. It easily brushes the tangles out of my hair without ripping/breaking the hair whether the hair is wet or dry. I highly, highly recommend it," one review says.
6. Use A Satin Or Silk Scarf
Another great and less damaging method of keeping your hair off your face, is to wrap it in a satin or silk scarf. It's like sleeping on a silk pillowcase, but it will keep your hair back without having to tie it up in an elastic. These large square satin scarves are less than $10 and come in more than 40 prints. "Perfect for my natural hair! It’s huge, so it allows me to loosely pineapple at night and it falls nicely the next day with little manipulation. I also find that as the week goes on, my curls become more coiled and I’ve gotten tons of compliments since using the scarf to pineapple," one reviewer reports.
7. Apply A Treatment
Right before you go to sleep is a great time to apply an oil treatment to your hair to help condition and hydrate while you sleep. This bottle's mix of argan oil, abyssinian oil, vitamin E, and sea minerals help to moisturize and strengthen without feeling greasy. Paraben- and alcohol-free, it's safe for all hair types. "This hair oil has improved my hairs feel and look. I use it at night, I put it on my hair before going to bed, no it does not transfer to my pillow. It makes my hair more manageable and less frizzy. And the scent is heavenly," one review says.
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This post was originally published on April 4, 2016. It was updated on June 27, 2019. Additional reporting by Jen Fiegel.