9 Tips to Protect Your Hair Overnight

Should you sleep with your hair up? Experts weigh in.


Getty Images / Design by Julie Bang

Beauty sleep, as a term, applies to more than just your skin. While we do spend plenty of time and effort investing in a nightly skincare regimen, prepping our locks for sleep is a step that often goes overlooked. How you spend your shut-eye can greatly affect the state of your hair, so before you hit the hay, take care of your tresses by making sure your beauty routine prioritizes healthy hair. The first step is breaking the bad bedtime habits of which we've all been guilty.

While you snooze, your hair is vulnerable to many menacing factors. As we carry on through our REM cycles, our hair is defenseless against its environment—the humidity of the room, the temperature, the pillow on which it rests. How you tie it up and what you tie it up with all contribute to its well-being come morning. Though we're not saying bedhead is completely avoidable, we are suggesting a handful of precautions to take to ensure your hair is getting its best beauty sleep while you get yours.

These are the bedtime habits to consider if you want to wake up to healthier, more beautiful hair.

Lay on a Silk Pillowcase

Your pillowcase has the potential to make a huge impression—literally. "Cotton is known to deplete moisture from the hair leaving it dry and frizzy," says celebrity hairstylist Ashley Wahler. She advises that you switch out your current pillowcase to a silk one, to prevent breakage and keep your hair looking healthy and shiny.

Slip Embroidered Silk Queen Pillowcase $89.00

Tie Up Your Hair

Sleeping with your hair down seems like the most natural way to go but can actually be doing more harm than good, especially for those with long hair. "Never go to bed without tying your hair up (for long hair), as loose hair can tangle. Removing tangles later can cause breakage," says celebrity hairstylist Fallon Toni Chavez. You can wear it in a number of ways, including a low ponytail or loose braid. Those with short hair (think a bob or shorter) can wear their hair down, but can add protection via a hair bonnet or silk scarf tied around the head.

Pattern Shower hair Brush
Pattern Shower Hair Brush $17.00

Secure Hair With a Protective Hair Tie

When those with long hair do tie up their tresses for the night, what they use to secure it with makes a difference. "Stay away from metal and rubber hair ties," says Wahler, who notes that both materials can lead to unnecessary breakage. Use a scrunchie or tie made of silk or satin, instead.

If you have unruly hair, style in a loose braid tied with a silk scrunchie before bed. Not only will the silk scrunchie prevent friction and subsequent breakage from affecting your strands, but it also likely won't create ridges in your hair after it's removed.  

kitsch silk scrunchies
Kitsch Silk Scrunchies 5 Pack $6.00

Sleep on Dry Hair

We’ve all been guilty of heading to bed soon after showering and falling asleep before our hair dries. Just as our mothers chided us for the bad habit when we were young, hairstylists scold us for still doing it in our adult years. "I don’t think you should go to bed with wet hair. It’s always more work in the morning because it can dry super crazy and you will have to use extra tools like a flat iron or curling iron which creates more damage in the long run," says celebrity hairstylist Scotty Cunha. If you must go to bed without letting your hair fully dry, Cunha recommends putting in a super hydrating hair mask or conditioner before heading to sleep.

eva nyc hair mask
Eva NYC Therapy Session Hair Mask $15.00

Use Humidity

We know the havoc a dry environment can wreak on our skin, but we don’t often consider that it can have very similar and equally negative effects on our hair. If your bedroom is typically dry, or if you have a heater on, your hair might suffer from the dry air. "Never go to bed with central heat on, that can dry your hair out," says Chavez. Try investing in a humidifier to keep your locks from getting dried out (and to prevent other beauty woes like chapped lips and flaky skin).

hey dewy portable facial humidifier
Hey Dewy Hey Dewy Portable Facial Humidifier $56.00

Go to Bed With Clean Hair

Going to bed with clean hair not only ensures hair health, but it can help with the health of your skin, too. That's because sebum and oil from your hair can transfer to your pillow and clog your pores. Washing your hair before bed (and drying it, as illustrated elsewhere on our list) will also keep hair lightweight and not weighed down with leftover styling products.

living proof full shampoo
Living Proof Full Shampoo $32.00

Ensure Hair Is Properly Moisturized

Healthy hair is well-moisturized hair, so be sure to take extra care after shampooing. "Comb your hair in the shower with a moisture conditioner like R+Co Atlantis Moisturizing B5 Conditioner," says hairstylist Kylee Heath, who notes that this will help smooth the hair and ensure it's tangle free, too.

R+Co Atlantis Moisturising B5 Conditioner
R+Co. Atlantis Moisturising B5 Conditioner $34.00

Protect Hair With a Cap or Sleep Mask

If you're worried about breakage or messing up a style you worked hard to perfect, try wearing a satin-lined sleep cap or bonnet to bed. This will help protect any styling you've done—and as a bonus help ward off frizz, too.

blue hair wrap bonnet
Silke London The Kate Hair Wrap $65.00

Give Your Hair a Pre-Bedtime Brush and Style

Take a cue from Heath and style your hair before hitting the sheets. Air or blow-dry first, then brush the hair until it's smooth. Next, style it.

"Create a center part and then comb it into a low ponytail," she says. "Then, spray R+Co Rainless Dry Cleansing Conditioner to the ponytail and braid the ponytail down your back." Hair will be well-protected and, as a bonus, already styled when you wake up in the morning.

R+Co Rainless Dry Cleansing Conditioner
R+Co. Rainless Dry Cleansing Conditioner $36.00

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