Expert reveals 5 ways to protect your hair when sleeping

Hoping to avoid hair damage and split ends? Check out these tips

woman sleeping
(Image credit: fizkes / iStock)

When it comes to a good night's sleep, many of us will have a preference on what is more comfortable. A lot of people will have a favourite bedding set or like to sleep on a particular kind of pillow, but have you ever considered which options are better for your hair’s health? 

With this in mind, Eva Proudman, Trichologist and hair expert at Absolute Collagen, has shared the answer to one of the most commonly asked haircare questions: should I sleep with my hair up or down?

The quality of your sleep is vital to healthy hair. Our hair follicles are the second fastest-dividing cells in the body. Like all fast-dividing cells, hair follicles use the time you are asleep to regenerate new follicles and replenish existing ones.

Tossing and turning at night causes friction and heat between your hair and pillow, which can damage the hair and lead to breakage.

Contrary to what some may believe, the best way to protect your hair from friction and damage is to tie it back rather than up. Tying your hair back can indeed cause pulling, but when done correctly, can minimise any friction during the night.

To do so, ensure you are tying your hair in a very loose ponytail or braid with a fabric scrunchie - there should be no pulling on the scalp at all.

The experts at Absolute Collagen have also shared five other ways you can protect your hair when sleeping, so you can wake up frizz and breakage-free every morning. 

Before you find out more, have you seen the 6 tips that will get rid of your dry and damaged hair?

1.  Sleep on a silk or satin pillowcase

For restless sleepers, a silk or satin pillowcase is a must. Using one is also a great option for those more typically prone to hair breakage. This is because the smooth material allows the hair to glide freely, minimising tangles, friction and frizz as you toss and turn.

What’s more, unlike regular cotton or polyester cases, silk pillowcases aren't absorbent, so your hair won't be stripped of natural oils and you can wake up with hydrated locks.

For more information, find out what happened when I slept on a satin pillowcase for a week. The results were shocking!

2. Make sure your hair is completely dry

Your hair is at its most delicate when it's wet, so the friction and heat from moving around in your sleep can increase matting and even breakage.

The best evening routine for your hair is to wash it with a nourishing shampoo and conditioner a few hours before bed, then let the hair air dry. For a quicker option, thoroughly blow dry your hair using one of the best hair dryers on a gentle heat, but remember to use heat protectant spray.

Do you know the exact temperature you should style your hair? It's lower than you think.

3. Consider wrapping your hair

If you often wake up with dry or frizzy hair, consider sleeping in a silk or satin head scarf or wrap. You can even use this method if you have had a fresh blow-dry or hairstyle that you want to last for longer.

Similar to the pillowcase benefits, a silk or satin scarf can reduce friction, lock in the hair's natural moisture and even reduce the likelihood of split ends.

If you don’t have a scarf or a wrap, putting your hair in loose plaits or braids is also a great way of wrapping your hair for sleep. There are many ways to wrap hair, so play around and find a way that is most comfortable for you to sleep in and wake up with freshly styled hair!

4. Swap bobbles for scrunchies 

If you still want to protect your hair but a wrap isn't for you, why don't you invest in some soft scrunchies?

Normal fabric hair bobbles, not elastic ties, are fine to use during the day. However, a loose scrunchie that doesn’t cause friction is always a better option when sleeping, especially if your hair is delicate and easily damaged. 

5. Try a leave-in conditioner or hair oil

For those who's hair is dry or prone to tangling, a leave-in conditioner or hair oil will be your best friend.

When finding an oil or conditioner, find one that works best on dry hair. If you have dry hair, try to find a nourishing oil that contains hyaluronic acid, coconut oil or castor oil. For fine hair, try and look for one that has argan oil or grapeseed oil in it.

This is a great way to lock in moisture and revitalise your curls overnight, but make sure to research which hair oils are good or bad for your scalp before you select one. 

Before you go, have you seen our advice on how to create the best haircare routine for your hair type?

Lizzie Wilmot
Staff Writer, Home

Lizzie is T3's Home Staff Writer, also covering style, living and wellness. She works closely with Bethan Girdler-Maslen, T3's Home Editor, ensuring all the latest news, trends and recommendations are covered. Outside of T3, Lizzie can be found mooching around Bath, attempting (or at least trying to) a new DIY project or spending time with family and friends.