Is It Bad to Sleep With Wet Hair?

Sleeping with wet hair

If you’re one of those people who showers before bed, whether in anticipation of a big day or simply because it’s a regular part of your routine, you might find that you often climb into bed with wet or at least damp hair. But if you’ve been told by a multitude of people that this is bad practice and can pose potential risks, then you’re not alone. 

In this blog post, we aim to answer the simple question of whether sleeping with wet hair is really bad for you – both in terms of your overall health and the health and quality of your hair – before going on to discuss a few ways of minimising the risks and what you can do to protect your hair. 

Potential risks from sleeping with wet Hair

Becoming sick

This is an interesting claim because it’s something that most of us will have heard at some point – that sleeping with wet hair will give us a cold or illness. However, it is untrue and completely unfounded – and comes from the ancient idea that being cold makes you cold, while we all know today that it is actually common bugs and viruses that are more likely to make us ill. Far more likely than genuine illness is the simple discomfort of lying on cold, wet hair – but this doesn’t necessarily mean or lead to sickness itself. 

Hair breakage

There is a bit more weight to this point, with hair commonly understood to be at its weakest when it’s wet. Think for a moment about how you sleep – your head is constantly crushing the hair beneath your head against the pillow, with any movement, tossing or turning unsettling the hair – and this is what causes breakage. This is made worse if your hair is tied up because it puts pressure and tension on the hair follicles. 

Fungal infections

Your pillow is consistently and regularly subject to fungi from your scalp, and so even the cleanest looking pillows can be secretly harbouring unwanted nasties that lead to dermatitis and other problematic conditions. When wet hair is laid on a pillow it becomes a hotbed for fungal growth, with the wet and warm environment perfect for allowing such bacteria to thrive. 

So, what can you do to minimise the risk of allowing these risks to thrive and become a reality? And is sleeping with wet hair really worse than the other damaging factors in our world – which include heating implements, a multitude of products, and the sun?

Protection tips for sleeping with wet hair

Wet hair protection tips

Before we dive into the protection tips for sleeping with wet hair, it is important to recognise that virtually everything you can do to your hair can be harmful to it in some way or to some degree – and that we can only hope to minimise the risk rather than eradicate it completely. 

Use conditioner

A quality hair conditioner not only makes your hair feel soft and smell great – it also seals the hair cuticle and reduces friction against the hair strands and your pillow, thus helping to prevent breakage. Treat your hair to a leave-in conditioner every once in a while to really help those strands to seal up and protect themselves from the outside. 

Use coconut oil

A step up from standard conditioner, using coconut oil is a bit like a deep treatment for hair which reduces the amount of water that hair strands absorb when they’re wet. By soaking up less water, the strands of hair are less prone to damage and so help to keep the hair in good condition. 

Do note that coconut oil can irritate damaged skin and so if you have any problems with this solution you should consult a doctor first. 

Detangle your hair and make it as dry as possible

If sleeping with wet hair is problematic, then it follows that towel or rough drying your hair as best you can before bed is a great solution to potential problems – with less water in your hair translating simply to less damage. Any detangling you can do before bed will also reduce the stress on your hair. 

Consider buying a silk pillow

Though this solution requires investment, a silk pillow provides a friction-free base for your head to sleep on – meaning it is better for both your hair and for your skin, and lessens the damage done to hair strands which are wet overnight. 

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