Sep 28, 2021

How To Sleep With Long Hair

Keep your hair safe while you get your beauty sleep

Formulate user Liz wants to know more about what to do with her long hair at night:

I have really long hair and I feel like it gets so gross and tangly when I sleep. It's all over the place when I wake up. It's super annoying. Even worse, I sweat a lot when I sleep, so I always wake up greasy and gross and feeling like I need to wash my hair ASAP. How can I wear my hair to bed so that this doesn't happen? Is there a way that I can sleep on my hair that actually helps it, instead of hurting it?

Thanks for writing, Liz! We're glad you got in touch, and we'll do our darndest to give you some solid advice for your long hair woes. Here are some ideas that we think might work to improve your overnight haircare routine:

Make sure hair is dry before bed

This one might seem a little obvious, but it's important we get it out there just in case!

Hair doesn't do well when wet. It's much more fragile and easily deformed. Press it up against a pillowcase and damage is sure to ensue. The best way to prevent this is pretty obvious -- make sure that your hair is dry when you go to sleep. Dry hair can handle pillow friction far better than wet hair. 

If it's possible, we encourage you to either air dry your hair or use the cold setting on your hairdryer. Be sure to avoid rubbing your hair dry with a towel -- rubbing it dry provides a ton of unnecessary stress to the hair fiber. Or even better, since you said you tend to wake up sweaty, wait until morning to wash up.

Brush out all the tangles before hitting the mattress

Ever fallen asleep with tangled hair? It's a sure way to gain several unintentional knots. Be sure to give your hair a thorough, but gentle, detangling before your head hits the pillow. This will help prevent the much worse night time tangles that you described.

Detangling long hair is a often neglected art form. Here are our best tips on how to do it:

 First, start with a wide-tooth comb or brush, and comb through your hair slowly. If there are any areas that are particularly resistant to the comb, slow down and come back later. A gentle yet thorough all-over combing will help prevent the formation of nasty micro tangles later on in the day. Go slowly, and detangle section by section.

Once you've finished, return to any areas that were especially resistant to the comb. Locate the knot of hair causing the resistance, and try to tease it apart as best you can using just your fingers. Start by loosening the hairs around the heart of the knot, and slowly work inwards -- even when a knot looks enormous, it's often just a small knot that has become entangled with the surrounding hairs.

If you're able to remove most of the hair from a knot and are left with only one or two remaining tangled strands, you've got a decision to make: either keep trying to untangle your hair, or pluck the remaining tangled strands. Because if you've managed to go from a huge knot to only a couple of knotted strands, well, losing two strands of hair might just be worth avoiding the painstaking process of mico detangling.

Improve your sleeping environment

Our sleeping environments impact the quality of sleep that we receive. It could be that you're rolling around in bed because your room is a slightly uncomfortable temperature, you're sleeping on too many pillows, or your space is cluttered and causing you stress. So if you'd really like to solve the problem that's causing your long hair woes, change up your environment, and see what works. There are a ton of different things you can try -- if you're too hot, or there's a ton of noise outside your window, get out a fan and blast it for a nice night time breeze and white noises. See if cleaning up the mess in your room helps, or try changing the number of blankets you sleep under. Trying some different strategies to improve your sleep is super important because if you can stay still during the night, you won't have too many tangles in the morning.

Give dry shampoo a try

One of the keys to long hair health is cutting down how often you wash your hair. As we said before, water typically doesn't do hair any favors, and scrubbing with shampoo only makes breakage worse. Dry shampoo can help, since it refreshes hair and gives it a little break in between washes. Spray lightly, especially around the crown, right before you go to bed each night. You can also apply a few drops of hair oil after you use dry shampoo before  to tame tresses while you sleep.

One of the main cons of dry shampoo is that it can give hair a dull, powdery appearance. Applying it at night before bed helps negate this effect. Leaving dry shampoo in hair overnight gives it a chance to settle into the hair and soak up the oil in the scalp. Instead of looking like a founding father, the end result is extra volume and bounce. A smidge of dry shampoo, either aerosol or powder, should provide at least a little bit of help in handling your nighttime sweaty hair problems.

Wear your hair loosely overnight

Wear your hair in a loose ponytail, braid, pigtails, or bun on top of your head. Loose is the most important word here -- wearing your hair in a style that's tight will probably just give you a headache and a receding hairline.

Bonus: if you put your hair in braids overnight in the morning, you can unravel and wake up to perfectly-imperfect waves, no styling required.

Ditch the tight elastic & upgrade your pillowcase

Instead of using a rubber elastic, secure your hair as you sleep with bamboo or satin scrunchies. This will prevent friction that leads to flyaways. You can also change up your sleeping habits by changing up your pillowcase to one that's satin, silk, or vegan silk. These are great because they're soft, gentle and don't create unnecessary friction or damage, preventing both flyaways and frizz as you get your beauty rest.

Wanna learn more about the ins and outs of haircare? Here's what you should read next:

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Flyaway Hairs: How To Tame 'Em

Buh bye, flyaways!

Curly Hair & Humidity

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Oil Training Hair: Q&A With A Dermatologist

Everything you need to know about oil training your hair

Curling Hard To Curl Hair: A How-To Guide

Let's curl that hair!

Two different ways to straighten natural hair

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