How to Sleep on Naturally Curly Hair May 19, 2020

A lot happens while you sleep. Your body replenishes energy, skin rejuvenates and refreshes, and your hair, well, lots of change is possible depending on how you prep your curly hair before laying down. Whether you’re overnight masking, setting a twist out, or just trying to smooth out frizz under a satin bonnet, there’s somewhat of a science behind how to sleep with curly hair.
Sleeping on curls is no easy task. Natural curls can get crunched, and if you’re going to bed with wet hair, you may be putting your strands at an even greater risk of breakage and damage. The sleep style you choose, curly hair products you apply, and a few other healthy hair habits all make a difference in whether your curls will stay defined overnight. Read on for all our best tips on sleeping with curly hair.

How Can You Sleep Without Ruining Your Curls?
If your spirals always look worse for wear by morning, you probably aren’t prepping your hair for bedtime. Just as your teeth need to be brushed and your skin care products need to be applied before you can start catching Zs, your hair needs a little attention, too. How you set and wrap your hair before laying down can dictate whether your curls are “ruined” while you sleep. Loose protective curly hairstyles like two-strand twists, sleeping with flexi-rods, or a high bun are going to be your best bets. The key when it comes to how to get curls to stay is to corral your hair in a way that won’t flatten your curl pattern or stretch your coils out too much. If you’re going the protective style route, wrap your hair with a satin scarf or put on a bonnet.

Another one of our favorite tips for sleeping with curly hair is to sleep on a satin pillowcase. If you have upgraded your pillowcase and know that you won’t be rolling off it frequently throughout the night, you can probably even skip covering up your head with a scarf. The bulk of your curls will be contained enough in your bun to prevent frizz from forming, and the soft (not to mention, luxurious) pillowcase won’t create friction against your curls. If you want to be cautious, tie a silk bandana around the outside of your hair, leaving just the top or bun part exposed. This should give you enough coverage to keep your natural curls smooth.

What Hairstyles Should You Sleep In?
How to sleep with curly hair won’t be the same for everyone. The hairstyles you sleep in are essential, and you’ll want to choose your sleep style based on how you want your curls to look when you wake.

Voluminous curls: If it’s voluminous natural curls that you’re hoping to see in the a.m., a high top bun or pineapple hairstyle will give you just that. Gathering your hair at the top of your head with a scrunchie will stretch the roots just enough to add volume without interrupting your curls. Be sure not to double twist your scrunchie so that it won’t leave a dent when you let your locks down later, and only lightly tuck the tips in so that they don’t get oddly crinkled under the hair tie.

Loose waves: For looser, more wavy curls that look like you hit them with a curling wand, try a few braids or twist your curls into large sectioned two-strand twists. To get the style to set a bit better, you can apply a smoothing and fortifying leave-in conditioner before twisting. You can then create one to three chunky French braids or part your hair into fours and loosely twist each section.

Tight curls: For tighter overnight curls, you may want to try bantu knots. You can do this on wet or dry hair. If wet, section hair into squares. The smaller the section, the smaller and tighter the curls. Apply a leave-in conditioner and the Pracaxi Nectar Curl Twisting Custard or Pracaxi Nectar Style & Hold Foam and spiral each section down toward the scalp into a little cone before securing with a hair tie. If styling on already dry hair, a light application of a leave-in conditioner or a sealing hair oil will help smooth hair out and hold it in place until morning when you’ll only need to unravel each knot and fluff.

Should You Sleep With Wet Curly Hair?
Does your hair need to be dry before you put it in the hairstyle you’ll be sleeping in? While it’s ok to sleep with wet curly hair when done safely, there are a few reasons why this often isn’t the best idea. For starters, hair is very fragile when wet. In fact, this is when it’s the most susceptible to damage and breakage. Although curls thrive on moisture, depending on your hair’s porosity, if it holds on to an excessive amount of water, it can weaken and weigh down each strand. This can not only stretch out your curl pattern but over time that stretching also makes hair weak and brittle. Too much of it can cause it to break right off—eek.

The other downside to sleeping with wet hair is waking up without a proper set. Let’s say your goal is a well-defined twist out by morning. Depending on how long it takes for your hair to dry, chances are having wet hair twisted, then covered in a bonnet won’t allow for airflow necessary to get it dry. Be prepared to have to leave the twist in for longer come morning or plan to heat dry before taking your twists or braids out.

Wet hair at bedtime can also leave your strands with a weird smell. Ever launder a towel that doesn’t dry properly? The same damp and moldy smell that happens when it sits among your other laundry can happen to hair if air isn’t passing through to get it dry. Speaking of which, never sleep with your hair wrapped in a towel. You’ll be setting your curls up for major damage. The terry cloth fabric of most towels is a curl no-no. It can snag at the cuticles on your strands and cause breakage. It also increases the chance of friction, which will make your hair frizzy. Further, there isn’t much airflow with a towel, so you run the risk of your hair smelling in the morning. Probably not what you were going for when you washed your hair before bed!

One instance where sleeping with wet hair makes sense is if you’re using natural hair products to do an overnight treatment like the Coco Creme Curl Quenching Deep Moisture Mask. Applying a hair mask or oil treatment can help replenish moisture and fortify hair as you sleep. This is also the best time to focus your efforts on your scalp. The skin underneath your hair is an extension of the skin on the rest of your body, and all of it is working overtime while you snooze to restore itself. Your scalp is no exception. So, nighttime is ideal for applying overnight masks, scalp serums like the Monoi Oil Sacred Strengthening Serum, root stimulators, leave-in conditioners, or penetrating hair oils that can help hydrate and assist with growth.

How Do You Keep Curly Hair From Frizzing Overnight?
With curly hair, frizz-fighting is tricky any time of day, but overnight, it’s particularly challenging. What it really comes down to is how wild of a sleeper you are. Friction is going to be your greatest enemy, so if you tend to toss and turn a lot, there will likely be quite a bit of rubbing, even under a bonnet. The material of your head wrap definitely helps reduce frizz, as will your pillowcase choice if your bonnet falls off during the night. Satin or silk are your best options for both a head scarf or covering and pillowcase.

What can also help is applying a frizz-reducing smoother like the Hair Milk Refresher Spray and separating your hair into braids or twists before tying it up. This way, even if you tend to move around a lot while you sleep, your hair will stay put, and there will be little to no rubbing of the hair cuticle, which is what causes frizz.

How Do You Revive Curls After Sleeping?
Even if you follow our best tips for sleeping with curly hair, your strands may need a little boost after snoozing on them all night. What can you do? If you’re taking down a protective style, make sure that your hair is completely dry before untwisting. Smooth a lightweight hair oil on top before letting down your overnight curls to help seal the cuticle and cut down on frizz. If you put your hair up in a pineapple or top knot, take out the hair tie and gently smooth a mixture of the Healthy Hair Butter and a tiny bit of a styling gel over your hair before shaking out your strands to fluff. Try to avoid too much touching and manipulation with your fingers, as this will only lead to frizzy curls.

Once your curly hair product has been applied, leave it alone. Smooth, then let it settle on its own. Outside of using product on your hair, you can also re-add some volume by using a pick to lift your roots, which may have flattened out while you slept.

After your style has settled and refluffed, you can focus on finger-twisting any individual spirals that may have become smooshed overnight. Do this by adding a tiny bit of Mimosa Hair Honey to your hands and then twisting the coil around your finger to help reshape it and smooth it out. You may also want to slick down your curly edges with the Black Vanilla Edge Control Smoother and wrap the perimeter of your head with a satin scarf while you dress to help hold them in place. When your perfect outfit is on, you can unwrap the scarf, and you and your curls will be ready to take on the day.

Next up: Need to dry your hair fast before going to sleep? Read up on How to Dry Natural Hair Without Damage.

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