Is It Bad to Go to Bed with Wet Hair?

Sleeping with wet hair is a common scenario, especially after a late-night shower, a long day at work, or a relaxing bath. However, this habit can have several consequences for your hair and overall health. Sleeping with wet hair can lead to various issues for your scalp, including hair breakage, increased risk of dandruff, and can make managing your hair more difficult. Understanding these potential effects and how to mitigate them can help you maintain healthier luscious hair.

The Risks of Sleeping with Wet Hair

Hair Breakage

When your hair is wet, it is more susceptible to damage and breakage. Wet hair is in its weakest state because the cuticle (the outer layer of the hair shaft) is slightly raised, making it more fragile. This is because water temporarily alters the structure of the hair, causing it to swell and weaken. As a result, the bonds between the protein structures in your hair are more likely to break.

Tossing and turning during sleep can cause friction between your hair and the pillow, leading to split ends and breakage. Additionally, the hair may get tangled, which can further exacerbate the issue. Over time, this can result in noticeable hair damage, reducing its overall health and appearance.


Going to bed with wet hair can also contribute to dandruff. When your hair stays wet for a long time, it creates a moist environment on your scalp. This moisture can encourage the growth of yeast, which naturally lives on the scalp but can multiply under damp conditions. An overgrowth of this yeast can cause irritation, leading to increased shedding of skin cells and dandruff. This condition can be uncomfortable, causing itching and visible flakes. To maintain a healthy scalp and reduce the risk of dandruff, it’s important to dry your hair thoroughly before going to bed.

Scalp Health

Sleeping with wet hair can create a damp environment on your scalp, which is conducive to the growth of fungi and bacteria. These microorganisms thrive in moist conditions and can lead to scalp issues such as dandruff, itching, and even infections. A healthy scalp is essential for strong and vibrant hair, and maintaining it dry can help prevent these problems.

One of the most common fungal infections associated with a damp scalp is ringworm, which can cause hair loss and scalp irritation. Moreover, the prolonged moisture can weaken the hair roots, making hair more prone to falling out. Ensuring your scalp is dry before bed can significantly reduce these risks and promote a healthier scalp environment.

Unmanageable Hair

Waking up with wet hair often results in a messy, tangled, and unmanageable mane. This is because wet hair is more likely to form knots and tangles as it dries unevenly while you sleep. Styling your hair the next morning can become a time-consuming and frustrating task, often requiring the use of additional heat styling tools that can further damage your hair.

Drying your hair before bed can save you valuable time and effort in your morning routine. It ensures that your hair remains smooth and easier to manage, allowing you to achieve your desired hairstyle with less hassle and stress.

Cold and Flu

While it is a common myth that sleeping with wet hair can cause you to catch a cold or the flu, there is some truth to the discomfort it can bring. A damp head can lower your body temperature slightly, making you feel colder and potentially weakening your immune system over time. This can make you more susceptible to infections and illnesses, especially during colder months.

The discomfort caused by a wet pillow and cold scalp can also disrupt your sleep, leading to poor sleep quality. Good sleep is crucial for maintaining overall health, including a strong immune system. Ensuring your hair is dry before bed can help you achieve a more restful and comfortable night’s sleep.

Tips for Healthy Hair

Dry Your Hair Thoroughly

Always ensure your hair is completely dry before going to bed. Use a blow dryer on a low heat setting or allow your hair to air dry naturally before hitting the sheets. If you prefer to let your hair air dry, consider washing it earlier in the evening to give it enough time to dry before bedtime.

Dr. Ross Kopelman of Kopelman Hair Restoration recommends using a heat protectant spray if you use a blow dryer to minimize damage from the heat. Divide your hair into sections and dry each section thoroughly, starting from the roots and working your way down to the tips. This method ensures that your hair is evenly dried and reduces the risk of damage. Dr. Kopelman recommends avoiding extreme heat, like ironing but if you do use devices like this to minimize how often you use them. 

Use a Silk Pillowcase

Switching to a silk pillowcase can reduce friction between your hair and the pillow, minimizing breakage and keeping your hair smoother and healthier. Silk pillowcases create less friction compared to cotton ones, allowing your hair to glide smoothly over the surface. This reduces the chances of tangles and breakage, helping to maintain your hair’s integrity.

Silk pillowcases also have the added benefit of being gentle on your skin, reducing the risk of wrinkles and irritation. Investing in a silk pillowcase can improve both your hair and skin health, contributing to a more luxurious and comfortable sleep experience.

Moisturize and Protect

Apply a leave-in conditioner or hair serum to nourish and protect your hair overnight. This can help prevent dryness and breakage by providing your hair with essential moisture and nutrients. Look for products that contain ingredients like argan oil, coconut oil, or shea butter, which are known for their moisturizing and strengthening properties.

If you have particularly dry or damaged hair, consider using an overnight hair mask. These intensive treatments provide deep conditioning and repair, helping to restore your hair’s health and vitality. Apply the mask to damp hair before bed and wash it out in the morning for soft, manageable hair.

Gentle Styling

Avoid tight hairstyles or tying your hair up when it’s wet. This can cause tension and breakage, as wet hair is more fragile and prone to damage. Instead, opt for loose braids or a gentle twist if you prefer to keep your hair in place while you sleep. These styles reduce the risk of breakage and help to keep your hair tangle-free.

Using soft hair ties, such as those made from fabric or silicone, can also help to minimize damage. Avoid using elastic bands, which can pull on your hair and cause breakage. Gentle styling practices can go a long way in maintaining the health and strength of your hair.

Regular Hair Maintenance

Maintaining a regular hair care routine is essential for healthy hair. This includes washing your hair with a gentle shampoo, conditioning regularly, and using treatments like deep conditioners and hair masks. It’s also important to trim your hair every 6-8 weeks to remove split ends and promote healthy growth.

Incorporate scalp care into your routine by massaging your scalp regularly to stimulate blood flow and promote hair growth. Using a scalp scrub or exfoliating treatment can help to remove dead skin cells and buildup, keeping your scalp healthy and your hair follicles clear.

Healthy Lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle plays a significant role in the health of your hair. Eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals, staying hydrated, and getting regular exercise can all contribute to stronger, healthier hair. Nutrients like iron, vitamin D, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids are particularly beneficial for hair health.

Managing stress is also important, as stress can contribute to hair loss and damage. Practices like meditation, yoga, and mindfulness can help to reduce stress levels and promote overall well-being. Prioritizing self-care and mental health can have a positive impact on your hair health.

Dr. Kopelman emphasizes the importance of these holistic approaches to hair care, noting that what you put into your body is just as crucial as the products you apply to your hair. A well-rounded approach that includes diet, exercise, and stress management can significantly enhance the health and appearance of your hair.

While it might be tempting to hit the hay with wet hair, the potential risks to your hair and scalp health are not worth it. By following the tips provided by Dr. Kopelman, you can ensure your hair remains strong, healthy, and beautiful. Remember, a little extra care before bed can go a long way in maintaining the vitality of your hair.

Whether it’s drying your hair thoroughly, using a silk pillowcase, moisturizing and protecting your hair, gentle styling, maintaining a regular hair care routine, or leading a healthy lifestyle, each step contributes to the overall health and beauty of your hair. Taking the time to care for your hair can result in noticeable improvements in its appearance and strength, helping you to wake up with hair that looks and feels its best.

By adopting these healthy hair habits, you can prevent the damage and issues associated with sleeping with wet hair, ensuring that your hair remains a source of pride and confidence. So, the next time you think about going to bed with wet hair, consider the benefits of taking a few extra minutes to dry and care for your hair, and enjoy the long-term rewards of healthier, more beautiful hair.