How to Sleep With Curly Hair: Best 4 Tips

Hey curly people! If you clicked on this article, you probably need some help at this stage of your curly hair journey. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. One of the most integral parts of having curly hair is learning how to sleep with curly hair.

It’s impractical to wash and style your hair every morning. We’d all be running late all the time. Moreover, overwashing can strip your hair’s natural oils1 leaving it damaged.

So how does one sleep with curly hair and still maintain their curl definition? Read on for an extensive look at everything you can do to sleep with curly hair and wake up with perfect curls.

1. What Causes Frizz

Before we delve further into our discussion, an essential learning for every curly hair person is understanding why curly hair frizzes up2. Of course, curly hair is naturally dry. This is because the spirals in curly hair make it nearly impossible for natural oils to reach the bottom of the hair. So curly hair is naturally dry and frizzy. This can be combatted with appropriate styling as we will see ahead.

However, another key factor that contributes to curly hair frizzing up is the constant contact between curls and rough fabrics like a normal towel or cotton bedding. Moreover, flattened curls and shapeless curls are caused by the same interactions. A lot of this takes place at night when our hair presses against our pillows creating this problem. This is why it becomes important to protect our curly hair at night so that we can show them off during the day.

Woman with red curly hair
By: Luriko Yamaguchi/Pexels Copyright 2023

2. Styling Always Comes First

The secret to gorgeous luscious curls lies in the styling routine. It’s important to style your hair well on the very first day as this is what your hair will look like for the days ahead.

Always remember that a longer styling routine with products that suit your hair, albeit exhausting, is the only way to maintain your curl pattern for a prolonged duration.

  1. Wash your hair with products that are curly hair friendly.
  2. Then on wet hair apply a leave-in conditioner and then apply a curl cream. Ensure that this is done on wet curly hair only. Section your hair and get defined curls by either brush styling or finger coiling.
  3. After this dry your hair by using a microfiber towel or diffuse them or air dry them. This helps to prevent frizz caused by a normal towel.
  4. Once your hair is dry you can scrunch out the crunch using a few drops of nourishing hair oil like jojoba oil or coconut oil.

Now your hair is perfectly styled and ready to be set for days to come before your next wash day. It is always recommended to sleep with completely dry curly hair however there are a few ways that you can sleep with wet curly hair as well.

2.1. For Wet Curly Hair

You can style your hair completely until the curly cast forms. Then place your hair in a buff or wet plop your hair overnight. Use a t-shirt or microfiber cloth to plop your hair. This keeps your curls intact through the night.

Remember to scrunch out the crunch when you wake up as this helps in achieving voluminous curls.

  • Sleeping With Wet Hair: The Good and Bad

While sleeping with wet hair isn’t directly harmful, it isn’t always advised for the following reasons.

  1. Wet hair is easily damaged: Wet hair is more susceptible to damage causing the hair to become brittle and start breaking easily. This can lead to hair thinning over time and cause your hair to lose its charm as its health depletes.
  2. Hair may not set well: There is always a risk of the hair not being set properly. If this happens, you will spend more time trying to perfect your hair in the morning and you may have to use heat styling to help bring your hair to life. This makes the entire process of protecting your hair futile.
  3. Poor hygiene

There is always a risk of your hair not drying till morning, leaving you with a musty smell in your hair. Nobody likes that. The point of a good hair wash is completely lost if your scalp doesn’t dry clean afterward.

So, while wet hairstyling can work it isn’t always the best option for you. Instead, with dry hair, you can choose from a wide variety of options on how to sleep with curly hair.

2.2.  For Dry Curly Hair

With dry curls, there is a whole array of methods that you can use to keep your curls intact overnight. You can experiment with each of the following techniques to see which offers you the best results and mix and match with various hairstyles and protective tools as well.

  • Protective Hairstyle

These include a myriad of hairstyles designed to help naturally curly hair maintain its bouncy curls overnight. There are variations within hairstyles as well based on the hair’s length, desired look, and quality.

  • Bun

A loose bun is all the rage for straight hair. However, it can also be perfect for curly hair. A loose bun helps by locking in all of your styling products.

For this hairstyle simply gather your hair, gently twist it into a loose bun at the top of your head and tie it with a scrunchie. This helps your curls hold their shape while locking in moisture and ensuring they create the least frizz.

  • Pineapple Hairstyle

The pineapple is a convenient sleeping hairstyle where you gather your curls gently at the top of your head and pull it into a loose ponytail. This resembles a pineapple and hence its name.

Remember to be gentle while you carry out this process so as not to damage the curl pattern. Only tie the hair tie once around your hair to prevent any damage. Pulling the hair tie twice can cause indentation and make your curls bend in strange angles.

For better results swap out your regular hair tie for a fabric-covered hair tie or better yet a cloth or satin scrunchie. This small extra step can greatly reduce frizzy curls.

The pineapple hairstyle works best with long hair, especially if the desired look is voluminous curls. When you gather your curls at the top, you naturally encourage the volume from the roots which shows once the hair is opened the next day.

  • Multi Pineapple

For shorter hair, the simple pineapple hairstyle doesn’t work as it is difficult to gather short curly hair on top of the head. The multi pineapple however can be the perfect replacement.

Here you can place your short hair into smaller pineapples over your head. These could perhaps be positioned on either side of your head to help protect your hair.

Again, the principles remain the same. Use satin scrunchies and tie them around the hair only once.

  • Medusa Clipping

The Medusa clipping is another protective style for short hair. You can clip sections of your hair away and above the scalp. This hairstyle can also offer increased volume as the clips are placed near the scalp creating volume at the roots.

Take a look at this video to see exactly how to sleep with curly hair using this method. Try to use clips that are small in size as they offer the best results.

Here’s a video by Jannelle O’Shaughnessy to help you better understand the technique behind this style.

Sleeping Curly - Medusa Clipping Sleep Routine for Short Curly Hair

  • Braid

Stay with us on this one. Braids can be extremely effective when trying to sleep with curly hair. You can also play around with your creativity and try different kinds of braids to see how your hair looks them.

Try regular braids for soft curls or try a tight French braid to help create tighter curls. Tie multiple braids to achieve a similar effect. You can also make looser braids which can help in creating soft waves or loose curls as opposed to tighter curls formed by tighter braids.

  • Twists

Similar to the braid, twists in curly hair help protect curls through the night. To do this style loosely twist your hair in sections and secure it gently with a satin-covered hair elastic.

The twist can help train your curls into tighter curls. This style can work even better with damp hair. So, either do this when your hair is almost dry or spray a little bit of water on your hair, only one or two sprays, to dampen the hair.

  • Bantu Knots

This is a type of bun used for tight curls. It can be done with either wet or dry hair. In this hairstyle, you divide your hair into various sections and then tightly coil each section and place it on top of the other to form what looks like small knots.

This hairstyle works well with tighter curl patterns and can easily protect curly hair overnight.

how to sleep with curly hair
By: Chidimma Peace/Pexels Copyright 2023

3. Perfect Products

While the hairstyles mentioned above can do their best to help maintain your curl definition all these efforts can be washed away by frizzy hair. For this, we recommend the following products to aid you on your curly hair journey.

All the mentioned products are quite affordable and will last for the longest time. Who knows, perhaps they will become your best friends by providing the perfect hair care that you need.

3.1. Satin Bonnet

A satin bonnet is an ideal tool. The bonnet can be placed over any of the above-mentioned styles, such as the pineapple, the loose bun, and the medusa clippings.

The bonnet helps keep hair secure all night long. Most bonnets come with either an elastic band or a simple satin band that you can tie around your head. This makes the process of wearing them easier and secures your curls through the night.

3.2. Satin Scarf

The satin scarf or silk scarf can be used on any of the hairstyles. It wraps around your hair and keeps it safe from any hair breakage and frizz.

When you wrap the satin scarf around braids or twists it will further reduce any friction that the external hair may face leaving you with perfect curls.

3.3. Silk or Satin Pillowcase

A Satin pillowcase is available readily and will easily become a staple for all curly girls. This silk pillowcase helps reduce friction when any hair accidentally slips out of its protective styles or the above-mentioned products.

The satin pillowcase is a cherry on top of your other styling products. It provides the perfect backup plan if any fine hair slips out of its secured position.

Furthermore, once you experience sleeping on such a pillowcase, there’s no going back. The results are just that good. So go ahead, and swap out your cotton pillowcases with silk pillowcases to see the magic unfold.

pexels mikhail nilov 7676881 scaled
By: Mikhail Nilov/Pexels Copyright 2023
  • Quick Tips on Good Silk

In a wide range of products made of silk and satin, it is integral to choose the best for our curls. Choose your products based on various factors. Ideally, you should choose high-silk-grade products.

The best silk is mulberry silk. This is harvested from silkworms that only eat mulberry leaves. It is the softest and most durable silk that one can buy. Silk is graded on a scale between A and 6A. So, buying a silk pillowcase that has been graded as 6A is ideal for your use.

On an additional note, you can also aim to buy environmentally conscious silk.

4. The Refresh

When you wake up after following all of these practices all your curls need is a quick refresh.

One of the main problems you may face is flattened curls. This is when the curl pattern is well-defined however it lacks volume. For this grab a pick, and fluff your roots by lifting them gently.

Use a lightweight oil, to manage any hair strands that may have gotten a bit frizzy. Scrunch out the cast with this method if you hadn’t done this the previous night. The lightweight oil can be both nourishing for the hair and also add to its aesthetic appeal by giving them a gorgeous shine.

Lastly, for any curly hair that has lost its shape, you can always slightly wet that curl and finger coil it to bring back its bounce. Do this for any hair that lost its curl’s spring.

5. The Best Tips For Curly Hair

Learning to sleep with curly hair is only one aspect of your curly hair care routine. Taking adequate care of your curls helps in the overall health of your hair and makes the task of sleeping with your curls easier as the hair quality is better. This can result in curls that are forever ready to shine.

5.1. Hydration

The key to combatting dry hair is hydration. Furthermore, it is scientifically proven that curly hair is drier as the oil cannot reach the tips of the hair.

Ensure that your curls are well hydrated 3by using a leave-in conditioner and try a moisture-locking serum to see the best of your curls. Practicing any form of hydration before you fall asleep can help boost your curls.

5.2. Try a Hair Mask

Often sleeping with a mask is the best thing to do when you leave your hair wet. Depending on the mask you use you can tackle a new problem.

From frizz to hair damage to undefined curls, a hair mask can you help you overcome your problem.

5.3. Reduce Frizz

You can also try a frizz-reducing cream to help reduce frizz and encourage moisturized hair growth.

5.4. Steam Refresh

If you feel like your curls need an additional wake-up call, steam refreshing might be the way to go for you. For this method, you can simply let your hair interact with the steam in the shower or use a hand-held steamer to focus only on your curls.

This can add volume to your curls. This step is far from necessary if you have used the protective methods discussed above, however, it can always add an extra layer of perfection to your hair.

6. The Final Say

Curly hair is seen as both, a blessing and a curse. It can of course be difficult to manage and require a fair amount of planning. However, there is nothing better than a perfectly styled head of curls.

One of the best parts of the curly hair journey is embracing your curls and with that comes the challenge of embracing the process of caring for your hair as well.

To fall in love with your curls you also need to fall in love with the routines that you must practice to help your hair reach its true potential.

By learning about sleeping with curly hair you have already begun the process of loving your hair. Now all you have to do is incorporate these practices into your daily life.

So, wash your hair, experiment with the various methods, find what works for you, and embrace that as well.

Read more from us here.

Available Treatments For Hair Straightening
Icy Health
  1. Truong, Van-Long. “Benefits of Natural Plant Oils in Promoting Hair Growth and Enhancing Skin Health.” 한국식품영양과학회 학술대회발표집 (2021): 208-208. ↩︎
  2. Cloete, Elsabe, Nonhlanhla P. Khumalo, and Malebogo N. Ngoepe. “The what, why and how of curly hair: a review.” Proceedings of the Royal Society A 475.2231 (2019): 20190516. ↩︎
  3. Benelam, B., and L. Wyness. “Hydration and health: a review.” Nutrition Bulletin 35.1 (2010): 3-25. ↩︎

Last Updated on by Muskan Mishra


Vrinda Mathur

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *