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Bedhead: Is it OK to Sleep With Wet Hair ?

By Amalah

Dearest Amalah,

I work an irregular schedule, with shifts ranging anywhere from 7 AM to 11 PM, with a 30 minute commute. I just cannot bring myself to wake up early enough to shower in the morning. My hair is long-ish and extremely thick and even in winter it can take anywhere from 25 to 60 minutes to completely blow dry it. Add in the actual shower, skin care regimen, makeup application, and getting dressed and I’m looking at over an hour to get ready, and I haven’t even eaten breakfast!

Obviously I prefer to shower at night, but I do not prefer what that does to my hair. Is it better to shower at night, sleep with wet hair, and dry it in the morning? Or dry it at night? If I dry it at night, how do I use product in the morning and not look like, you know… I slept with wet hair?

Please guide me, as you have never failed me in the past.

I don’t know if it’s a lack of sleep or caffeine or what, but I keep rereading this question and…coming up with nothing. Even though I feel like I should have something. I feel like one time, long ago, I read a whole thing about haircare tips tailored for those who shower at night. But since I simply cannot shower at night, I didn’t retain any of the information. (When I sleep my hair — even ultra-clean and freshly showered hair — gets crazy oily. I have never found any solution to this problem, other than to shower and shampoo every morning and to marry the first man who ever said my oily gross bedhead looked “cute.”)
Some cursory online searching and reading mostly came up with warnings against sleeping on wet hair — your hair is so very very delicate when it’s wet, so even the slightest tossing and turning on your pillow will cause breakage and frizz. One haircare forum suggested loosely braiding it before going to bed, but I cannot advocate using hair bands or fasteners on wet hair, even at the very ends, no matter what.

(I also found a lot of sites arguing about whether sleeping with wet hair gives you headaches, which definitely strikes me as an old wives tale, with possibly a grain of truth for those who pull their wet hair into ponytails at night. Ouch to that, for both your hair and scalp.)

Of course, when I was growing up, my mom used to put my wet hair in sponge rollers at night and wrap my head in a kerchief for holidays and special occasions. I woke up with bouncy soft curls (and maybe a few dents in my head) and my hair survived just fine. If your hair is overall pretty healthy and not processed or overly fine, sleeping with wet hair probably isn’t going to immediately equal doom and breakage. But I’d still advise trying to limit the number of times you do it every week.

So. If you dry your hair before bed, how do make it look decent in the morning? The easiest answer is to apply more water, either with a wet comb or a spray bottle. Spritz the bent/flat parts and comb them out or quickly blast them with the blow-dryer.
Another option is to embrace the bedhead and incorporate into your style. Scrunching/curling products like Catwalk’s Frisky, Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray and Fekkai’s Wave Creating Spray can all be used on dry or slightly damp hair and create tousled, messy looks. Stick with sprays (instead of creams or waxes) and just make sure the bottle says it can be used on dry hair.

Published November 16, 2007. Last updated December 31, 2017.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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