Hair Care

How to Sleep with Curly Hair: Maintain Your Curls

We all have our nightly rituals. Some of us wind down the day by settling in for a mini Netflix marathon after dinner; we feverishly follow the trials and tribulations of our favourite characters for an episode or two, until our eyes grow heavy and we drag ourselves to bed.

Others like to get rid of the day’s excess energy by jogging or walking off any persistent, nagging thoughts, or engaging in a mindful yoga practise designed to calm the mind and get us ready for a good night’s sleep.

Whatever your nightly ritual, it should always involve self-care in the form of washing, applying moisturizing night cream to your face, hands and body, and, of course, tending to your hair – especially if it’s curly.

Curly hair needs a lot of care and maintenance, and the easiest way to ensure that your morningly haircare routine is quick and efficient, is by caring for it at night. That means tending to it before going to sleep and ensuring it is protected while you’re visiting dreamland.

We should all commit to brushing out our hair every night before bedtime, but it is especially important for curls. They are naturally dry, making them much more vulnerable to any stress or strain.

While it’s hard to imagine an activity such as sleeping to be stressful on our curls, it truly is if they aren’t prepared properly. The friction that is created by moving your head around on the pillow and getting strands stuck in tight positions can wreak havoc on your hair.

If you’ve ever wondered why you wake up to a ball of frizz on your head every morning, chances are your nightly haircare routine could use a little adjusting. Treat your curls with the kindness and care they deserve, and you’ll go through life with bouncy, healthy locks.

Uncertain as to what you can do to provide your hair with the protection it needs to make it to the next day looking its best? Here are three tips on how get your curls bedtime ready so you can maintain their bounce all day, every day.

Never Go to Sleep with Tangled Curls

Once we really stop to think about the amount of time we put into our curls, it’s actually quite a revelation. It’s not just our morningly haircare routine that takes a good chunk out of our day – whether we’re styling it intricately or just getting it to look halfway decent.

A woman brushing her hair

It’s all that time in between those twenty minutes in front of the mirror scrunching, finger-combing, tucking, and styling that ends up accounting for at least 50% of the time we spend tending to our curls.

All those unexpected blasts of wind that send us running to the nearest bathroom to rearrange our curls; all that time we spend experimenting with different creams, gels and conditioners, and all the times the resulting failures end up costing us more time on our curls.

Trust us when we say that, by incorporating this simple and yet oh-so-effective step into your nightly haircare routine, you’ll be cutting your morningly ritual – and all those emergency re-styling runners – down to half the time as before.

Make a habit of thoroughly detangling your curls before you hit the sack, preferably using your trusted finger-combing technique to avoid any unnecessary stress or tension on your hair and scalp.

By the time you’re done, you should be able to run your fingers through your hair easily and without knotted, tangled obstacles. This will ensure that, come morning, your curls will be much less unruly and easier to work with.

Silky Sleep Companions Equal Silky Curls

We’re all careful to avoid wearing clothes made of fabrics known to make our hair static and frizzy – nylon, certain synthetic wools, polyester, etc. And yet, we often fail to pay the bedding we sleep in much attention at all.

While cotton is definitely the go-to for most of us when it comes to bedding, there’s an even better alternative, one your skin and hair will thank you for: silk. This natural hypoallergenic is resistant to dust mites, mould, fungus and all the other unpleasantries that cause allergies.

This could be particularly interesting for those with sensitive skin and scalp irritations, but even on a general level, silk is the way to go if you’re looking to keep your skin and hair looking and feeling soft, hydrated and moisturized.

The smoothness of silk is the best possible surface you can rest your pretty little head of curls on. Sleep on a silk pillowcase and you can toss and turn all you want without ever splitting an end, without ever losing your cool.

You should also consider wrapping your hair in a silk scarf or covering it with a silk sleep cap or bonnet during the night. This helps to retain moisture and will leave your curls looking shiny and bouncy the next morning.

Treat your curls to your favourite leave-in conditioner or oil at night, then let it work its magic under the silky cover of your scarf, cap or bonnet. It will make your best hair products work twice as efficient by giving them the time to thoroughly penetrate your hair and retain all the nourishing goodness.

Know Your Protective Styles

All of these wonderful tips and tricks above won’t help much if you’re just going to fall into bed with loose curls left to their own devices.

A sleeping woman with curly hair

Unless you remain in the exact same position all night without moving an inch, your hair is going to rebel, and there’s only one thing you can do about it: wear a protective style to sleep in every night.

As you may have already guessed, a protective style is less about style and all about offering your curls the right kind of protection at bedtime. This means these are styles that are simple, loose, and comfortable to sleep in, whilst keeping your curls safe from friction and breakage.

Some of the most common protective styles for type 3 and 4 curls are two-strand twists – the perfect option for those who don’t know how to braid – and the pineapple, both of which keep the hair tidy and together, but loose enough to not cause any tension.

For wavy hair and looser curls, a simple braid or a French braid will ensure ultimate comfort and protection. These styles work excellent on long, thick hair but may not be right for shorter hairstyles.

The pineapple style, for example, would only end up putting more strain on hair follicles as it sits high atop your head, almost near your forehead. It could also leave a weird dent in your hair, that will be difficult to brush out without a quick shampoo the next day.

If you’re working with short curls, go for multiple pineapples by sectioning your hair off into three brunches – one on each side and one on the top of your head. Alternatively, you may consider keeping your curls snuggly wrapped in a t-shirt turban.

Too tired to deal with any of these protective styling methods at the end of the day? That’s OK, a good old loose and messy bun will do the trick too, just be sure to use a satin scrunchy or scarf to hold it up.


Hi I'm Hati and my hair is naturally very curly, obviously! I have started this blog to share curly hair stories and what I use to manage my own hair. Hopefully you will find it useful! My other main passions are food, art and animlas. I have a little cat who I love very much.

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