3 Bad Sleep Habits You Need To Avoid For Healthier Hair

Medically reviewedby Edna Skopljak M.D.
WrittenbyLiza Schermann
Last updated

Have you ever thought about what happens to your hair during your sleep? Is your bedtime giving you bad hair days? Did you know that bad habits may lead to hair damage?

Yes, you could be wrecking your hair without even knowing it. In this blog, you'll find out all about hair damage when it comes to your sleep habits - and what causes it.



Poor sleep habits can lead to hair damage. Your pillowcase can accumulate oils, dirt, sweat, and bacteria, affecting hair health. Wash it frequently and consider silk, satin, or bamboo materials for less friction.

Sleeping with wet hair weakens it, causing frizz, bedhead, and fungal growth. Avoid tight hairstyles that pull on the scalp, leading to hair loss.

Establish a nighttime hair routine with serums, massages, and treatments to enhance healing and growth.

Protect your hair by maintaining clean pillowcases, avoiding wet hair at bedtime, and choosing gentle hairstyles to prevent tension and damage.


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Pillowcases And Hair

As you may already know, without sufficient care, your pillowcase can host lots of nasty stuff, such as oils, dirt, sweat, bacteria and whatnot, from daily use. Indeed, our bodies produce natural sebum (oils), which can get transferred to pillowcases and other fabrics. Besides, dead skin cells from your face and head can pile up on your pillowcases every night. Therefore, keeping your pillowcases clean is necessary.

However, it is more often than not overlooked by most people as the pillowcase appearance might be deceptive. They can look clean while they are not. Experts recommend that you might need to wash them at least once or twice per week to avoid a buildup of those things.

Besides, since we spend 5 to 8 hours lying our heads on pillows, the materials of pillowcases can impact hair wellness to a certain extent. Cotton fabrics have been thought to induce split ends, frizz, hair breakage, and tangles since they absorb the essential oils from your hair.

That is a reason why lighter fabrics such as silk, satin, and bamboo may be more beneficial for your hair. Using a pillowcase made with these materials can help minimize friction while you sleep, thus maintaining your hair quality and shine, especially if you have curly hair.

Sleeping With Wet Hair

Leave your hair damp when going to sleep, and you may risk it being damaged along with split ends. When hair is wet, it is more vulnerable to disturbance factors. Your hair is weakest when it is wet.

Wet hair can easily get disturbed and impaired while tossing and turning in your sleep. Also, hair cuticles are prone to stand up and rub against pillows and sheets, resulting in frizzy, brittle and dry hair. Besides, sleeping with wet hair means you may be more likely to experience a bedhead, a hair condition in which it becomes unkempt, matted, kinked, or tousled in the morning.

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Additionally, research suggests sleeping with wet hair can increase the number of fungi on the scalp. Fungi (e.g., Malassezia) are well-known for their causes of dandruff and many other scalp issues.

When you do not dry your hair well enough before bedtime, those kinds of fungi are conditioned to multiply on your scalp. Moreover, wet hair can dampen pillowcases, which provides an ideal environment for fungi to grow.

One study conducted a pillow test and found out that there can be 4 to 16 species of fungus existing in a pillow.

Bad Hairstyles When Sleeping

When a hairstyle induces repeated or prolonged hair tension, such as tight braids, it may eventually cause traction alopecia. The damage caused by these hairstyles often comes from the excessive pulling force on the scalp skin, causing scalp inflammation (e.g., tenderness, stinging, or crusting). As a result, they weaken and cripple hair follicles, and hair shedding emerges.

The situation is worse when you have such hairstyles while sleeping because the traction increases when you toss and turn. That means more pulling force, more tension and more inflammation. If you have long or unruly hair, you could loosely braid it or tie it in a bun to avoid tangle.

And what is even worse than wet hair or a bad hairstyle? Style your hair when it is still wet, and go to sleep with that!

Some people usually braid their hair or make a tight updo though their hair is still wet, which is a terrible habit for your hair. At this stage, avoiding that is necessary since braiding or wearing your damp hair up can add more tension to the hair shaft, leading to more hair damage. When you have no choice but to sleep with wet hair, the recommendation is to leave your hair down.

A Suggestion For Your Hair Routine At Night

Beyond getting a sufficient amount of sleep every day, it is beneficial to have a pampering routine for your hair and scalp at nighttime. This includes using a good hair serum, giving yourself a head massage, or applying overnight treatment.

As the body’s healing and growth mechanism work during the down-time, the benefits of your routine can be heightened and amplified. It happens due to increased circulation, lowered inflammation, and accelerated cell revitalization.

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To protect your hair, washing your pillowcases frequently is essential since they are home to oils, dirt, sweat, critters, and bacteria, which can harm not only your skin but also your hair. Besides, the materials of your pillowcases can contribute to your hair condition. Cotton fabrics can absorb essential oils in your hair and possibly contribute to several hair issues. Meanwhile, materials such as silk, satin, or bamboo can be favourable since they retain moisture and shine on your hair.

On another note, sleeping with wet hair can cause severe hair damages, such as split ends, frizzy and dry hair, or bedhead. Your hair quality can worsen when the habit goes along with a braid or tight updo. Furthermore, without drying your hair before sleeping, unintentionally, you put your hair under a bad situation when fungi have a good condition to develop. Those fungi can lead to dandruff or dermatitis and, eventually, hair shedding.

Lastly, hairstyles that cause excessive tension can lead to hair damage, especially traction alopecia, as they can be a reason for scalp inflammation due to follicular damage. The consequences can be more severe when sleeping in these hairstyles as the pulling forces placed on the scalp skin are even more severe.


The information we provide is not intended to mitigate, prevent, treat, cure or diagnose any disease or condition. If you have any concerns about your health, please consult your doctor.


Billero, & Miteva, M. (2018). Traction alopecia: the root of the problem. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, 11, 149–159. https://doi.org/10.2147/CCID.S137296

Haskin, & Aguh, C. (2016). All hairstyles are not created equal: What the dermatologist needs to know about black hairstyling practices and the risk of traction alopecia (TA). Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 75(3), 606–611. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2016.02.1162