Best Ways To Sleep With Curly Hair And Tips To Follow

Tie your curly tresses in a pineapple, a bun, or braids to protect them at night.

Reviewed by Martine Langsam, Certified Trichologist Martine Langsam Martine LangsamCertified Trichologist
Written by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Experience: 7 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) Experience: 11 years
Fact-checked by , Integrated MA Medha Deb Integrated MA Experience: 5 years

Having curly hair is both a blessing and a curse. While you need not style it much, you will have to take proper care to sleep with curly hair. The problem gets worse if you have got your hair curled. You need to pay more attention to retain those curls when you wake up in the morning. So, there is hardly any scope for negligence. So, what should you do for your hair to be healthy and curly?

In this article, we will look at the best routine to follow while sleeping with curly hair and some smart tips to keep your curls intact. Read on to know more.

The Importance Of Sleeping Right With Curly Hair

Your curls cannot take care of themselves, so you need to put in that tender loving care (or TLC) when you go to sleep. You might not be able to follow a curly hair bedtime routine every day, but try to stick to a routine nonetheless for curly hair maintenance and care.

Here are some reasons why you need to protect your curls when you sleep:

1. Your Hair Stays Healthy

A happy woman touching her healthy curly hair.
Image: Shutterstock

You can break your natural hair while tossing and turning during sleep. Your bedsheets may be made of drying material that can damage your curls. Curls need to be well-hydrated, and conventional cotton pillowcases absorb moisture from your hair. Your hair gets stuck due to the drying material, and this causes breakage. Cotton sheets also cause friction on the hair, and lead to tangles, mattingi  Mats are characterized by irregular twisting and tangling of hair. The lack of moisture is the most common cause of matted hair. , and breakage. This is why you need to sleep on a silk or a satin pillowcase. Both materials create more slip and help keep the curls in shape.

2. Keeps Your Curls In Shape

If you struggle with maintaining your curls for more than a day, it is time to start following a curly hair night routine. With the right sleep position, you will not need to worry about hair styling a lot. For example, if you are a side sleeper, you may not sleep on your curls – while this also depends on the pillow shape. Sleeping on your back and on a good neck support pillow could be ideal. You could also wear a sleeping cap to protect your curls.

3. Prevents Flattening

A woman with flattened curly hair.
Image: Shutterstock

For most people, sleeping on curly hair flattens it. There is a lot of pressure on the curls and they may not bounce back in the morning after you have slept on them for hours. The curls are crushed by the weight of your head. They look messy and matted the next day. Therefore, you must be wary of the pillow shape. A neck support pillow may take the pressure off the curls even if you sleep on your back. Alternately, you also can try sleeping on your side or on your stomach provided you have the appropriate pillow.

Let us find out the best way of sleeping with curly hair.

Best Ways To Sleep With Curly Hair

Getting into a hair night routine is not as difficult as you think. All you need is to find the right hairstyle that protects your hair and a few simple hair tools.

If you do not wash your hair every day, then keeping your curls intact is easy. Your hairstyle will depend on whether your hair is dry or wet when you are sleeping.

Here are some hairstyles to sleep in for curly hair when it is dry:

1. Pineapple

This sleeping hairstyle for curly hair looks like a pineapple on top of your head. Here is the best way to do the pineapple:

  • Bend your head down until your hair falls in front of you.
  • Collect your hair and bring it to the top of the head. Ideally, it should be between your forehead and the crown of your head.
  • When sleeping with short curly hair, try to get as near as possible to the ideal spot.
  • Tie up your hair in a loose bun with a cloth, headband, or a satin scrunchie.

When your hair is collected at the top, the chances of sleeping on it are minimal. Keep the scrunchie loose to prevent breakage.

There is lower friction with this hairstyle, your curls are not crushed, there is reduced frizz, and the curl definition remains intact.

Allaya Cooks-Campbell, a blogger, shared her experience of using the pineapple technique to manage her curls in her blog. She said, “I found that a newer elastic hair scrunchie works well– one of the plain black ones before it starts to stretch out, is tight enough to hold all the curls without me having to twist it (i).”

2. Bun

The pineapple works for short hair. But if your hair is long, try the bun for curly hair protection:

  • Pull up your hair in a ponytail.
  • Loosely wrap a hair elastic around it once.
  • When you pull the hair elastic around it the second time, pull your hair only halfway through. This creates a bun.

Tying your hair in a bun reduces breakage and friction. Apply a leave-in conditioner before bed. Allow it the time to get dry completely before you sleep for the night.

3. Buff Or Headscarf

Here are the steps for the buff hairstyle:

  • Stretch the buff or headscarf and guide it gently over your head till it ends up around your neck like a necklace.
  • Tip your hair upside-down.
  • Gently pull the top of the buff until your hair is completely encased in it.
  • If you have long hair, tie it at the top.

When you are sleeping with curly hair, the buff keeps your hair above your head. You can also use a curly hair sleep cap in its place.

4. Braid

Close-up of a mother braiding her daughter's hair.
Image: Shutterstock

Here are the steps for braiding curly hair at night:

  • Pull your hair back and divide it into two sections.
  • Loosely twist both the sections clockwise, individually, until the very ends. Ensure the braids/twists are not too tight, or your hair may experience breakage at the roots and lead to traction alopecia.i  Traction alopecia is a type of hair loss that occurs when chronic traction or pulling force is applied to the hair.
  • Wrap the two sections around each other in a counter-clockwise motion and secure it at the ends with a hair elastic.

protip_icon Quick Tip
You can also French braid your hair to make the curls at your roots prominent.

5. Plopping It

  • Start with washing your hair.
  • Apply some leave-in conditioner to it.
  • Spread a T-shirt on your bed, with the sleeves facing toward you.
  • Toss your hair forward and place it in the center of the T-shirt.
  • Pull the hem of the T-shirt to the back of your neck and tie the sleeves over it.

6. Sleeping With Wet Curly Hair

When you are sleeping with wet curly hair, here is a routine you can follow:

  • If you have to start early the next day, wash your hair the previous night.
  • Make sure you wash your hair 2 to 3 hours before you go to sleep.
  • Remove all the excess water from your hair with a microfiber towel.i  A textile made of super-fine synthetic yarns. The diameter of the synthetic fiber used to make it is less than ten micrometers.
  • You can apply a light moisturizing hair gel for the best results.
  • Scrunch your hair with your fingers and plop it in a soft T-shirt.

Sleeping the right way can benefit your curly locks more than you know. Find out more in the next section.

Is It Better To Sleep With Curly Hair Up Or Down?

Sleeping with your hair tied up in a satin scrunchie or hair tie can prevent friction and minimize frizz. It can also help maintain curl definition and reduce tangling. However, tying it too tightly may cause breakage. While sleeping with your hair down may be more comfortable, it may lead to tangles and disrupt curl patterns, especially if you move a lot during your sleep.

Hence, experiment with both options and see what works best for your curls.

Sleeping with your curls intact can be a challenge. But the tips given below can help you wake up to the curls of your dreams. Take a look.

Smart Tips For Keeping Your Curls Intact

If you are looking for an answer for how to sleep with curly hair, here are some smart tips to keep your curls healthy and intact. You need to work harder for curly hair than for normal hair. Whether it is following a curly hair sleep routine or using hair masks, you need a customized solution for your curly hair. This is the best way to prevent dents, tangles, and frizz in your hair before they can occur.

Here are some easy tips for sleeping with curly hair:

1. Use A Silk Pillowcase:

Woman sleeping on a silk pillowcase.
Image: Shutterstock

The key to keeping your hair hydrated, preventing breakage, and minimizing frizz is using a silk pillowcase. Your hair faces less friction since silk provides you with a smooth and comfortable surface.

Cotton pillowcases are drying. This leads to dehydrated hair and breakage, so switch to a silk pillowcase for a night of great sleep, dreamy curls, and tangle-free hair.

There are some points you need to consider when buying a silk pillowcase for sleeping with curly hair:

  • Stick To Genuine Silk: You should only buy pillowcases made of 100% pure mulberry silk. An easy way to check whether the pillowcase is made of genuine silk would be the price tag. Anything under $20 will be inferior-quality silk.
  • Feel Of Silk: Genuine mulberry silk is the best type of silk. It is smooth, strong, and has a uniform color. It is stronger compared to a steel fiber of the same proportions. The best weave is mulberry silk charmeuse, which is smooth and free of friction. You will not have problems with bed head, sleep wrinkles, or frizz when you sleep on it.
  • Silk Grade: Silk has different grades ranging from A (the lowest) to 6A, the highest. When buying a silk pillowcase, make sure the label says 6A, indicating the best quality.
  • Weight Of Silk: Silk is measured in terms of momme units. The higher the momme unit, the superior the quality of silk. If your pillowcase does not indicate the momme weight, avoid it.
  • Environmentally Safe Silk: The best quality silk pillowcases should be free of harmful chemicals. This should be certified by an independent agency. Do not forget to check the certification when buying the pillowcase.

2. Keep Your Hair Hydrated

If you want to avoid frizzy and damaged hair, use hair products like a moisturizing cream or conditioner before going to sleep. Hair tends to dry out during the night, so a bit of curl cream in your nighttime routine will ensure it stays hydrated all night.

The cream and conditioner you need for your hair depend on your hair’s thickness. A dash of cream would do for fine hair. Anything more will flatten your curls.

3. Satin Bonnet

To keep your hair ends from breaking due to friction, your best option is a satin bonnet. With sleep accessories like a bonnet, you will not have any problems with frizz and breakage.

4. Morning Refresher

An African woman spraying water on her hair.
Image: IStock

A quick way to keep your curls refreshed is using a bit of water. After spraying your hair with water, you can use your hands to reshape your curls. Not only will your curls stay intact, but they will also have a sparkling shine.

5. Leave-In Conditioner

When you provide keratin to your hair folliclesi  The shaft of the epidermis through which hair grows is known as the follicle. It is found in the skin’s dermal layer. with a leave-in conditioner, your curls get a greater bounce and shine. If there are any hair strands that are damaged due to hair dye and heat styling, a spray-on conditioner will make them stronger. Softer hair is easier to style.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Apply a nourishing hair oil before bed to wake up with soft and smooth curls.

Infographic: Overnight Coconut Oil Hair Mask For Curly Hair

Coconut oil is a natural miracle product that works wonders on curly hair. It helps restore lost protein, adds moisture, and gradually strengthens the hair when used on it. Making a homemade coconut oil hair treatment is a cheap and natural approach to strengthening hair and making it easier to handle. Check out the infographic below to learn how to make an easy overnight coconut oil hair mask for curly hair.

overnight coconut oil hair mask for curly hair (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

When you sleep with curly hair, it is important to follow a hair care routine to keep your tresses healthy and manageable. Sleeping on your hair makes it lose its curl structure and become matted. So, tie your hair up loosely to keep its curl structure protected.

You can tie your hair up in a pineapple, a bun, a buff, a headscarf, or a braid, or you can try plopping it. A pineapple is a better option for short hair, while a bun, braid, and buff work well with long hair.

Apart from these hairdos and hairstyles, there are some simple steps you can take to keep your curly hair manageable and intact, like sleeping on a silk pillowcase. Scroll up and read through these tips again to make sure you didn’t miss out on any!

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you wash curly hair at night or in the morning?

You can wash curly hair at night or in the morning. It depends on how much time you have. If you wash your hair at night, allow it to air-dry for some time before sleeping on a satin pillowcase to prevent frizz and keep your curls in shape.

Can ponytails ruin curl patterns?

Sleeping with low ponytails may cause frizz in curly hair, which is why a pineapple, bun, or braid hairstyle is preferred instead.

Should you brush curly hair?

It is recommended to brush curly hair when it is wet as it is easier to detangle, reduces frizz, prevents hair breakage, and maintains your curl pattern.

Can hair get curlier as you get older?

In most cases, your curls loosen as you age. But if you follow a good hair care routine, it keeps your hair healthy.

Is curly hair attractive?

This depends on your style preference and face shape. Some face shapes look better with curly hair better than others as it makes the face look slimmer.

Should curly hair be air-dried?

Yes, you can air-dry curly hair. You can also use a diffuser when blow-drying your curls to add definition to them.

Key Takeaways

  • Switching to silk pillow covers, sleeping on your sides, and wearing a sleeping cap can help maintain your curls.
  • Tie your hair into a loose bun at the top like a pineapple with a cloth or satin scrunchie. This keeps the curls from getting flattened.
  • Using a moisturizing cream or conditioner before sleep will help prevent frizzy and damaged hair.
how to sleep with curly hair

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Check out the video below to uncover 7 effortless tips to maintain the freshness of your curls overnight. Prepare to awaken with beautifully revived, and bouncy curls and amaze everyone with your gorgeous tresses!

Personal Experience: Source

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Martine Langsam

Martine LangsamCertified Trichologist

Martine is a certified trichologist with over 7 years of experience and a California licensed cosmetologist. She is also an established senior stylist with over 36 years of experience. Her interest in healthy hair and lifestyle led her to trichology.   She has a small clinic in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she helps people achieve healthy scalp full bio

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