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Protecting Your Hair While You Sleep Could Improve its Health

Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on September 21, 2018 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Hair Care Tips

Most people make an attempt to protect their hair during the day. Washes, conditioners, hair masks and oils keep our locks shiny and smooth while we’re out and about. Unfortunately, this upkeep often falls short at night.

Think about your nightly hair routine. Perhaps you wash it before bed, or you just throw it up into a messy bun and hit the sheets. These kinds of things can actually damage your hair while you sleep. It’s unlikely that you sleep perfectly still throughout the night, and each toss and turn can pull on your hair, tangle it and cause damage. Long hair, in particular, is extremely susceptible to damage while you get your Zs.

However, nightly hair damage doesn’t have to be your reality. There are many easy ways to protect your hair at night and wake up to shiny, healthy and strong locks every day.

The dangers of nighttime hair damage

Depending on your hair length and hair type, damage could range from minor to severe if you don’t take care of your hair before going to bed. The most common problem you’ll experience is tangles. Each time you move in your sleep, your hair moves, too. This can lead to knotted hair that is difficult to detangle in the morning. Excessive pulling puts stress on your strands, causing breakage and frizziness.

Additionally, sleeping with your hair pulled back tightly can put even more stress on your hair—especially around places like your hair line. A common kind of hair loss called traction alopecia occurs when hair is pulled back too often and too tightly. Wearing braids, ponytails or buns during the day, then following suit at night, can be a recipe for disaster and lead to bald spots.

Tips for protecting your hair at night

To preserve the health of your precious locks, implement a few of these tips into your nightly hair care routine.

  • Brush before bed: Brushing your hair helps remove all the tangles that may have accumulated throughout the day. Leaving these tangles in your hair for too long, especially at night as you toss and turn, can lead to even bigger knots that will damage your hair. Brushing also distributes your hair’s oils evenly from scalp to ends, so you will wake up with a healthy shine. Choose a brush that is not too abrasive or use a wide-toothed comb.
  • Take your vitamins: Vitamins and supplements like biotin can help you grow stronger, healthier hair (and improve other parts of your health, too!). Adding a supplement to your nighttime routine can ensure you’re getting your daily dose of nutrients.
  • Don’t sleep on wet hair: Wet hair is the most vulnerable to breakage, and the stress of pulling on it while you sleep can leave you with a frizzy, damaged ‘do in the morning. If you wash your hair at night, make sure you have time to let your hair air-dry. Avoid using a hair dryer, since the heat can zap hydration and cause damage, too.
  • Use a leave-in conditioner: If your hair is feeling particularly dry or damaged, apply a leave-in conditioner, hair oil or hair mask and wrap your hair up to go to bed. Rinse the product out in the morning to achieve hydrated, healthy locks.
  • Put it in a loose bun or braid: Sleeping with your hair down isn’t always a problem but can cause tangles in curly or damaged hair. If you want to pull your hair back, always use a loose style like a low bun or braid. Too much pressure from a tight style can break your strands and even lead to hair loss from traction alopecia.
  • Use a scrunchie: The elastics you use to tie your hair back can also wreak havoc on your hair. Even if you do a loose style, an elastic hair tie can put additional stress on the strands. Instead, use a loose-fitting scrunchie.
  • Switch your pillowcase: Cotton pillowcases are the norm, but did you know they are super absorbent? They can soak up the natural oils and moisture from your hair during the night, leaving your strands dry come the morning. Also, cotton is not a super slick material, meaning your hair will drag across the pillow each time you roll over. Switch your pillowcase out for a silk or satin one, which will help your hair glide smoothly and won’t absorb moisture.
  • Wrap it up: Another way to keep your hair off your face is by wrapping it up into a silk or satin scarf. This keeps your hair pulled back and tangle-free without needing an elastic.

It doesn’t take much to add a few of these hair care techniques into your nightly routine, and the benefits far outweigh the cons from doing a few extra steps. By taking good care of your hair at night, you’ll be rewarded with healthier, stronger, more beautiful-looking locks every day.

Read also: How to Manage Excessively Oily Hair

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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