Why Is It Bad to Sleep with Wet Hair?


We know how tempting it can be to take a quick shower before bed and dive between the sheets. Giving your hair time to dry or even pulling out the blow-dryer is labor intensive, and for night showerers, this sometimes just feels like too much work. Thus, going to bed with wet hair.

There are some issues with sleeping with wet hair, though, that you should be aware of before you continue on with this habit. While there are some myths surrounding sleeping with wet hair, some red flags you’ve heard are actually true. (Spoiler alert: Thin wet hair is fragile!) Here’s what you need to know about having wet hair at bedtime.

Why Is It Bad to Sleep with Wet Hair?

There are a few concerns with sleeping with wet hair. First of all, let’s discuss breakage. When your hair is wet, it’s more prone to breakage. A wet hair cuticle is stretchier than a dry one, which makes it a bit more brittle. When you sleep on that brittle hair, there’s a good chance it could break when it rubs against your pillow. Even the best sleepers move around at night, which puts tension on your strands. 

Another concern with wet hair is that it can actually create a dandruff problem. Sleeping with wet hair can create yeast on your scalp. That yeast buildup can become dandruff, which would not only be flaky, but itchy as well. If you’ve scratched an itchy scalp and ended up with gunk under your nails, that could be yeast right there. This is because of that extra moisture.

And speaking of that extra moisture, did you know that sleeping on wet hair can even lead to a moldy pillow? With wet hair at bedtime, there’s a chance! Sleeping on wet hair will make your pillow and pillowcase wet, and with your head resting on top of the pillow, it can’t easily dry. Mold and other bacteria can grow in your pillows, which are not only a respiratory hazard but can even be a bit smelly. You definitely don’t want your hair and face resting in that, right? There’s also a small chance that this could result in fungus on your scalp from wet hair. Yes, fungus on your scalp just from wet hair! Let’s avoid that.

Is It Always Bad to Sleep with Wet Hair?

The biggest caveat to sleeping with wet hair is your hair texture. Not all hair is created equal, and some hair types are more prone to damage when wet. Fine hair breaks more easily, so it’s important to be extra careful with it. Thin wet hair is very fragile. Aging hair is also more brittle, so it’s a good idea to avoid sleeping on it wet. If you use a lot of hot tools on your hair without properly protecting it, this can also mean your hair is damaged or brittle. This is even more reason to be careful with it when you’re sleeping. Coarse hair and curly hair, on the other hand, can vary, especially if you’re not using the proper shampoo and conditioner when you wash. 

If you absolutely must sleep with wet hair, it isn’t the end of the world, just try to towel dry it a bit first so you have damp hair and not soaking-wet hair. Better yet, skip the wash before bed and use dry shampoo in the morning if washing your hair in the a.m. is out of the question. The dry shampoo will give your locks a refresh without the breakage overnight.

Does Sleeping with Wet Hair Give You a Headache?

While one study showed that wet hair in cold weather (and we’re talking hypothermia conditions) can result in a sinus headache, there’s no science behind why sleeping with wet hair might give you a headache, so if this has happened to you, it’s most likely a coincidence. If you tie your wet hair up in an effort to wake up with waves, this however could lead to a headache.

Does Going to Bed with Wet Hair Make It Greasy?

Sleeping with wet hair may not actually make it greasier, but it could appear greasy. When your hair is wet while you’re sleeping, it smashes against your head. And when you wake up, the result is way different than the volume you get from blow-drying or even air-drying your hair with your head not against a pillow. Generally speaking, hair, when wet, looks thin, though, which can look greasy as well.

So How Should I Take Care of Wet Hair?

While our best advice is to wash your hair earlier in the day, we know that isn’t always possible. But if you can rearrange your schedule to wash your hair in the morning or even midday so it isn’t wet at night, that’s ideal. If you must wash at night, try to get your hair as dry as possible before you go to bed. 

Carefully comb it out with a wide-tooth comb to remove any tangles and also help get water out, and softly towel it dry so you don’t do any unnecessary damage. A quick blow-dry (a low setting is always best) should remove enough of the moisture to prevent breakage while you sleep. You don’t necessarily have to do a full-on blowout before bed, but just get as much water out of your strands as you can. Damp hair is better than soaking-wet hair!

This is a great time to use a strengthening serum on your strands that can work its magic while you sleep! Cozy up in bed with silk pillowcases for extra care, and your hair will certainly thank you.

Tell Us: Do you wash your hair in the morning or night? Share your tips for dealing with wet hair before sleeping in the comments below!

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