9 Reasons Why You Should NEVER Sleep With Wet Hair

Sleeping With Wet Hair: 9 Reasons Why You Should NEVER Do It

If you've been told the old wives' tale that says you should never eat before going swimming, you've probably also been told that sleeping with wet hair will make you ill.

With little evidence or explanation, it's highly likely you've ignored this warning, but could you be putting yourself in danger? 

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Why do people go to bed with wet hair? 

sleeping with wet hair
It's easily done!

We've all been there. You've got to be out the door early the next morning, but your hair is looking less than presentable. You've got to make dinner and maybe even get the kids to bed so you'll leave the hair washing for later that night. 

You've washed your hair but, either because you don't want to make noise or you simply don't have the energy, you skip the blow-dry. Heat is bad for your hair, isn't it? It'll be better to let it dry in your sleep. 

You wake up and you wonder why you look like you've been electrocuted, but you don't have time to rewash it. It'll have to do. 

Whilst leaving your hair washing to the night before might seem like the best option, there are hidden dangers that you probably don't know about! 

Why you shouldn't go to sleep with wet hair

1. It could cause severe hair breakage 

hair breakage
Wet hair is weaker.

Hair is at its weakest when wet, so it's not surprising to hear that you'll be increasing the amount of breakage by leaving your hair wet whilst you sleep. As you toss and turn, friction will cause the hair to snap more easily than if your hair was dry. 

You might think leaving your hair to air dry is better than applying heat, but is it really?

2. It'll make you feel cold

If you're sleeping in an air-conditioned room or it's the peak of winter, sleeping with wet hair will make you feel much colder. 

Stop the shivers by giving your hair a proper blow dry. For a real treat, you can even blow dry your socks, pyjamas and bed sheets so they're nice and cosy.

3. You'll spend more time styling your hair 

hair straightening
You'll probably need to use heat tools anyway!

The term 'bed head' exists for a reason! As your hair dries, it sets into place. When you sleep, your hair is twisted into all sorts of strange styles, and if it's drying while you sleep, it'll set that way too. 

Normally the worst offenders are the crown of your head and the ends of your hair. The only way to smooth out your hair is to spend a lot of time trying to restyle, either by re-wetting it, using heat tools or suffocating it with aerosols and gels - not exactly the au-natural option you were going for.

4. Worsens your immune system 

The old wives' tale that you'll get ill from sleeping with wet hair isn't completely true - you can't catch a virus simply from having wet hair. 

That said, sleeping with wet hair can weaken your immune system which makes it more likely that you could catch a cold or flu virus. 

5. Bacteria growth

Your pillows could be harbouring a dirty secret. 

If there's one thing we all know, it's that the combination of water and warmth equals a rapid growth of bacteria. Just think how much bacteria will be growing on your pillow if you sleep with wet hair! The warmth from your head will make the damp pillow the perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria and mould. 

You might think that changing your bedsheets frequently will help, but the dampness from your hair will have penetrated into the pillow. Do you really want to rest your head on a bacteria haven every night? 

6. Causes dandruff

It's not your shampoo!

The warmth of your head and the prolonged dampness of your hair will cause bacteria and fungi to multiply on your scalp as well as your pillow. Sleeping with damp hair also strips the natural oils away from your hair as they are easily absorbed by the pillow's fabric along with the excess moisture. 

The combination of bacteria growth and the loss of natural oils will make your scalp more likely to develop dandruff, and who wants that? 

7. Makes your hair dull 

glossy hair
Maintain the shine!

When the water is absorbed from your hair into the pillow's fabric the natural oils are taken too. Your hair will look so much duller and dehydrated without these oils. 

Dehydrated hair is also much more likely to break. Remember that there is a big difference between hair that is dry to the touch and hair that is dehydrated of natural oils. 

8. Can cause hair loss

Can you believe this? Going to bed with wet hair can result in hair loss and, more specifically, scalp ringworm. Scalp ringworm is a type of fungal infection, caused by warm and damp conditions. 

It's highly contagious, so take care to wash anything that has come into contact with your scalp. We'd rather grow long hair than lose it! 

9. It'll give you acne 

If your pillow is crawling with bacteria, chances are you'll soon be experiencing a break out of acne. Your skin will thank you for drying your hair before you sleep. 

What you should do instead

You can still avoid damage.

Sleeping with wet hair might cut a few corners, but to avoid any of the above, here's what you can do:

  • Wash your hair earlier in the evening - this will allow it to air dry before bed, without dampening your pillow. 
  • Sleep with a silk pillowcase - this will reduce friction and prevent breakage. 
  • Dry your hair with a t-shirt - this will cause less damage than a regular towel or prolonged blow-drying.  
  • Apply a leave-in conditioner to strengthen your hair.
  • Never sleep with wet hair if you have hair extensions - they will become tangled and matted.
  • If you do sleep with wet hair, consider putting a waterproof pillow cover on your pillow and change fabric pillowcases every second day. 

 Do you ever go to bed with wet hair? Let us know in the comments below! 

Joanne A


Expert in finding beautiful solutions for small and rented spaces. Would happily spend the rest of my life shopping for homewares and watching Disney movies - I only wish I had Cinderella's army of mice to help me clean!

  1. Author Mary , on November 7, 2018 at 8:17 am

    NO I don't for exactly the one of the reasons you mentioned, Sticking up, uncontrollable hair next day !

    1. Author Joanne A on November 8, 2018 at 9:16 am

      Good to hear, Mary!

    2. Author brenda on August 6, 2022 at 5:40 am

      i use waterproof pillow cases, two tolwels om top of the pillow, my pillow never gets wet. os the best i can do with my schedule

    3. Author Joanne A on August 30, 2022 at 2:49 pm

      That's a good idea!

  2. Author June bowen on November 7, 2018 at 9:55 am

    Thank you for telling this as I never new this would happen so I will remember this but I must say that I have never gone to bed with wet heair and I don't think I ever will

    1. Author Joanne A on November 8, 2018 at 9:15 am

      You're welcome, June!

  3. Author Julie on November 9, 2018 at 11:30 am

    Being Chinese.. I was told you will get headaches later on in life...

    1. Author Joanne A on November 9, 2018 at 11:39 am

      That's really interesting, Julie! Do you think it's true?

    2. Author Hanz on March 6, 2022 at 5:47 pm

      Chinese here as well. I was even told by my mom that i'd be mentally unstable if i go to sleep with wet hair.. illogical, if you ask me.

  4. Author Kath on February 16, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    It's really helpful because I often sleep with wet hair. Now I know the effects of having your hair wet when going to bed. God

    1. Author Joanne A on February 18, 2019 at 10:54 am

      It's worrying, isn't it?

  5. Author Holly Crook on February 26, 2019 at 10:11 pm

    I always go to bed with wet hair and I seem fine and so does it! I'm afraid I don't know how true this actually is I have done it since being young and I get told I have fantastic silky undamaged hair so !

    1. Author Joanne A on February 27, 2019 at 9:11 am

      Thanks for sharing, Holly!

    2. Author Karen on February 5, 2020 at 8:35 am

      Me too!

  6. Author Kia on March 2, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    Hard lesson learned. I've experienced #8. Sleeping with wet hair caused me to develop scalp ringworm and hair loss. Now I spend my time treating my hair 3xs a day.

    1. Author Joanne A on March 4, 2019 at 10:37 am

      Hi Kia! I'm sorry to hear that you've experienced this. It does highlight the hidden dangers though! Hopefully, your comment will help other readers to understand the risks.

  7. Author Debbie Calvert on March 5, 2019 at 11:21 pm

    My hair/scalp has an odor. I was my hair every night and go to bed with it wet. Could this possibly be what is causing the odor. I have used a dandruff and clarifying shampoo but it hasn't helped. My next thing is to make a soda paste and leave on my hair for 5 minutes. Any suggestions?

    1. Author Joanne A on March 6, 2019 at 3:44 pm

      Hi Debbie! It sounds like you could have some kind of bacterial growth on your scalp. This could certainly be caused by going to bed with wet hair. I would suggest you try blow drying it for the next fortnight and see if the smell goes away. If you continue to have problems with odour, I would speak to your GP. It might be something that needs medical attention.

  8. Author Taina Zakura on March 21, 2019 at 5:24 am

    ... Well, there is one time I had to sleep with the wet hair by accident during 5th grade camp. Since it was around 9 pm, I didn't worried about showering so I showered and washed my hair. Turns out, I have to sleep with my wet hair since I don't have a hair dryer and even if I do, still our leaders told us that we have to go to sleep now. While I was sleeping, I knew my skin was starting to get heated up, and I did kind of felt that my skin was starting to break, so to cool myself off, I had to put my wet hair on my face! So far, I guess my hair does keeps coming off, but not entirely unless I watched out where I was going to brush it at. Thanks for letting me know. :)

    1. Author Joanne A on March 21, 2019 at 9:25 am

      You're welcome, Taina!

  9. Author Asfandyar on April 27, 2019 at 6:14 pm

    Hi my name is Asfandyar and I’m having hair fall problem plz tell me how can I stop this

    1. Author Joanne A on April 29, 2019 at 12:32 pm

      Hi Asfandyar! Do you go to sleep with wet hair? This could be the first problem. I'd try to get to the root of the problem first - is it caused by stress or another factor? If you can control this factor then that is a good step to take. You can also try vitamins, scalp massages and increasing the amount of Iron in your diet if it's safe for you to do so.

  10. Author Dariel mero on May 8, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    Umm...hi I always sleep with wet hair..but not really wet it was not wet but you can feel it just a little cold...i already use a t-shirt to dry my hair and in every time I sleep my hair is not wet but just having a little cold...and could it also affect me!!??

    1. Author Joanne A on May 8, 2019 at 2:33 pm

      Hi Dariel! Slightly damp hair can also cause the same problems, I'm afraid!

  11. Author Ban on June 29, 2019 at 10:17 am

    That answers my questions about having hair loss and acne, will never sleep again with wet hair. Thank you 😉😉

    1. Author Joanne A on July 1, 2019 at 10:33 am

      You're welcome, Ban! It's unexpected, but it really does make a difference.

  12. Author Marge on July 8, 2019 at 10:07 pm

    I have gone to bed with wet hair for decades!!! And I mean, I NEVER go to bed without showering first. I can't stand the thought of getting into bed with any kind of "day" accumulation of anything! Then I always wet it down in the morning because of bed head. I had NO IDEA about anything that was written here. Oh dear heavens!!! Thanks. I am going to always blow dry my hair before bed now.

    1. Author Joanne A on July 9, 2019 at 9:43 am

      If you blow dry your hair before bed, you should find it fixes your bed head a bit too! Sleeping on wet hair will fix it into all sorts of crazy styles.

  13. Author Michele Myers on July 27, 2019 at 6:26 am

    Man alive!!! I’ll never go to bed with wet hair again!! I’ve done it forever and I’m in my fifties! I just always loved sleeping with wet hair! I always felt like I was nice and clean! Boy, do I love the internet!! So helpful!! Thanx tons!!🥰

    1. Author Joanne A on July 29, 2019 at 10:10 am

      You're welcome, Michele!

  14. Author Tracy Anne Cruz on July 30, 2019 at 9:18 pm

    The only reason why I’m doing this, It’s because time saver for the next day going to work , and wash my hair at night to remove the dirt on my hair entire day I was out. I don’t have time to blow dry or air dry my hair, and I’m doing this for a month, I think I need to change my routine.

    1. Author Joanne A on July 31, 2019 at 9:07 am

      It is a time-saver, but we're not sure if it's worth the risks!

  15. Author Kaveri on August 14, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    I think, I might have found the reason for my itchy scalp and hair loss. the itchiness got to a level where there were small blisters on my scalp. I tried changing my shampoo, tried to go and get my self checked. but nothing worked. I got several ointments but didnt help me much. I strated getting backacne as well and now the problem is at its worst, as now I have acne on my face (I was really blessed with a good skin and never really had a breakout for no reason) I tried eliminating different types of food ingredients to detect if i was getting these acne because of some sort of allergy from certain foods but still no help. Atleast now I know where exactly the change was needed. I will surely try this out. Thanks a ton :)

    1. Author Joanne A on August 14, 2019 at 3:11 pm

      That sounds painful, Kaveri! Glad we could help.

  16. Author Sharon on September 7, 2019 at 8:04 am

    Oh wow. I never knew this. I always go to bed with wet hair. My hair is so thick that it is usually still damp when I wake up the next morning. I never realised that I could be damaging my hair more. I always thought that because I was leaving it to dry naturally, it was healthier. I won't be doing this in future. x

    1. Author Joanne A on September 9, 2019 at 12:40 pm

      It's quite scary, isn't it! Leaving your hair to dry naturally during the day is definitely healthier than using heat, but the same doesn't apply overnight!

  17. Author Maria Taplin on September 10, 2019 at 3:57 am

    I am aged 58 and for many years I have gone to bed with wet hair. My hairdresser says that considering my age, my hair is in fantastic condition and it so thick. I do not suffer dandruff or health problems. I do have a waterproof protector on my pillow plus pillowcase. I guess we are all different. When I can I will shower early but as being self employed my days can be long, I often do not get a chance to wash my hair til late in the evening. Also, I do not use shampoo or conditioner and only wash my hair every 10 days. I am intolerant to a lot of hair products so opted for warm/hot water instead.

    1. Author Joanne A on September 10, 2019 at 2:41 pm

      Hi Maria! That's great to hear - everyone is different. It sounds like the waterproof pillow protector might be helping too.

  18. Author Tamara on October 8, 2019 at 5:16 am

    I need your ideas. I have naturally wavy hair and can't blow dry my hair. As well as it taking 4 hours to air dry and me, refusing to go to work with wet hair I'm in a pickle. I use a CPAP attached to my blow dryer so it will give me indirect heat. I leave it on for a solid hour, but my hair is still damp. My scalp is dry. I wonder if that does not help. Do you have any ideas on what I can do as opposed to washing my hair at night and going to bed with a damp head? My friends and I are at a loss.

    1. Author Joanne A on October 8, 2019 at 11:46 am

      Hi Tamara! Are you able to wash your hair late afternoon / early evening? This way it should air dry before bed. If you feel like this is not the best time for showering, you can keep your hair dry with a shower cap and shower before work.

  19. Author Brittney on November 3, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    Having wet hair when you sleep will not weaken your immune system. Neither will going outside in the cold with hair. Those are wives tales not facts

    1. Author Joanne A on November 4, 2019 at 11:39 am

      Hi Brittney! We've linked to our sources, so feel free to check them out!

  20. Author Daniel on December 2, 2019 at 8:00 am

    I usually don't make a habit going to bed with wet hair. Usually I wait till I know its damped, in the morning my hair is not tangled. Knock on wood I haven't woke up with a cold.

    1. Author Joanne A on December 2, 2019 at 10:58 am

      That sounds like a good way to do it!

  21. Author Ella on December 21, 2019 at 11:26 am

    Hi, I've been sleeping with my hair wet for ages and there has been no damage... Quite frequently I've been getting dandruff and oily hair... Could this be due to sleeping with my hair wet.? I did Google it and another reason could be that I don't wash my hair as often as it should be washed. Please help I need advice! :)

    1. Author Joanne A on January 3, 2020 at 12:42 pm

      Hi Ella! It could well be the reason. An anti-dandruff shampoo might be a good place to start. Have you tried changing your pillowcase more regularly too? Oily and dandruff-prone hair can occur for a number of different reasons.

  22. Author Tina on April 1, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    I’d love to understand how you came to the conclusion that sleeping with wet hair weakens the immune system. Are there any scientific studies to back this claim up? Seems pretty absurd to me.

  23. Author Luca on April 3, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    I'm here because I went to sleep last night with wet hair and now my scalp is incredibly itchy. What can do now to fix it? I won't be going to bed with wet hair again, but in the meantime this is driving me crazy. Should I shower again?

    1. Author Joanne A on April 3, 2020 at 5:13 pm

      Hi Luca! Do you have any other symptoms or have you used any products for the first time? If it persists, I would speak to a GP.

  24. Author Tati on July 8, 2020 at 4:02 am

    For a long time I would wash my hair at night, go to bed and flat iron my hair in the morning. My hair would look great for a few hours and then the itch would consume me. Ugh!! It was awful! I finally got to see a dermatologist. Long story short, she said going to bed with wet hair was the equivalent of rolling up a wet towel and leaving it. Eventually that towel becomes moldy and musty. I was doing the same to my scalp! She prescribed an anti fungal shampoo and drops which helped tremendously! And I no longer go to bed with wet hair. NEVER again! Thanks for the article!

    1. Author Joanne A on July 28, 2020 at 12:21 pm

      That's a very good way of putting it!

  25. Author Elze on November 10, 2020 at 10:01 pm

    Thank you for telling me this I’m not going to sleep with wet hair🙂

    1. Author Joanne A on November 16, 2020 at 9:54 am

      We're glad you found it helpful!

  26. Author Ahmed on February 6, 2021 at 3:53 am

    My grandmother used to tell me that sleeping with wet hair can lead to poor eyesight. Is this true?

    1. Author Joanne A on January 23, 2023 at 2:22 pm

      HI Ahmed! No scientific evidence supports the claim that sleeping with wet hair causes poor eyesight. The eyes and hair have no direct connection, so it is unlikely that one would impact the other. However, sleeping with wet hair can cause discomfort, such as a headache, and may make it difficult to fall asleep.

  27. Author Shirley su on February 19, 2021 at 2:53 am

    Thank you for the advice my son now knows to dry hair

    1. Author Joanne A on March 30, 2021 at 3:08 pm

      You're welcome, Shirley!

  28. Author Ayzahra on March 28, 2021 at 11:46 am

    I often go to bed with wet hair without brushing it first. I brush it before I shower. I always use a leave-in conditioner like Moroccan oil for hair. And I always put a clean hand towel on my pillow. My hair is fabulous in the morning and has a shine. In autumn, I may apply an oil to just my hair, not my scalp, again during the day once or twice because the air is more dry then where I live.

    1. Author Joanne A on March 30, 2021 at 11:57 am

      Leave-in conditioner sounds great!

  29. Author kylie on May 4, 2021 at 2:15 am

    should i sleep with my wet hair in a t-shirt when i go to bed?

    1. Author Joanne A on May 10, 2021 at 5:20 pm

      Hi Kylie! I'd suggest making sure that your hair is dry before going to bed.

  30. Author Stephanie on October 22, 2021 at 7:17 pm

    No I don't...EVER!!!

    1. Author Joanne A on March 30, 2022 at 5:29 pm

      We're glad to hear!

  31. Author Heather LeBrun on January 3, 2022 at 1:14 pm

    I have been going to bed with wet hair for 4 months and just realized I been sick with cold (covid tested) for most of the time. I definitely think it weakens your immune system as i am typically healthy .. I stopped this week and will monitor over the next couple of months

    1. Author Joanne A on January 11, 2022 at 3:45 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Heather!

  32. Author Laura on February 3, 2022 at 5:29 am

    I have done this for years, in the morning I have frizzy dull bedhead. I started blowdrrying the past couple days and the difference is AMAZING! The oil i add to my hair at night is absorbed and my hair is shiny and soft the next day. I hope this helps with the length issue. My hair grows pretty fast, but breaks. I have my fingers crossed. :)

    1. Author Joanne A on November 15, 2022 at 1:13 pm

      Thanks for sharing!

  33. Author Barbara Thomassen on February 4, 2022 at 12:14 am

    Hello Joanne have been reading your comments on here and your answers great to read. I always wash my hair during the day and use a microfiber towel for my hair. As I'm in my 60s and have long hair my question to you is if it is okay to use hair dryers alot some of my hair comes out when I wash it I suppose this is normal

    1. Author Joanne A on January 25, 2023 at 12:00 pm

      It's normal to lose some hair when washing or styling, but excessive use of heat styling tools like hair dryers can lead to damage and breakage, resulting in increased hair loss. To minimize damage, it's best to use a heat protectant, avoid high heat settings, and not use the dryer too frequently.

  34. Author Anna on February 19, 2022 at 10:14 pm

    I when I wash my hair I always wash it before bed. Have done always (41yrs) I never blow dry. having curly hair sleeping with wet hair makes for THE BEST curls. Natural dry it's fad and flat, and blow dried it I get a ball of fuzz, static and dead looking. I've never suffered from any of the things listed above.

    1. Author Joanne A on September 13, 2022 at 3:20 pm

      I'm sure it is much harder to find a solution with curly hair! We agree it does benefit from air drying, but perhaps washing it in the morning, instead?

  35. Author Xithe on February 22, 2022 at 6:15 pm

    I'm happy to follow this information, I think it is really relevant to why pillows start to be smelly and sometimes you get acne even if you aren't going outside that much. Thank you for this tips and information, Joanne!

    1. Author Joanne A on March 3, 2022 at 3:42 pm

      You're welcome! It does make a lot of sense.

  36. Author Joanne F on February 24, 2022 at 10:09 pm

    I found this article very interesting. I have had itchy dry scalp issues for years and often go to bed with wet hair as been told by hairdressers to ‘let it dry naturally’ which I now realise works for day time but not for sleeping. I’ve seen a number of doctors about this issue and never have they asked if I go to bed with my hair wet. I will never to this again, but how do I clear the bacteria that’s accumulated?

    1. Author Joanne A on March 3, 2022 at 3:41 pm

      Hi Joanne! It might be worth getting a new pillow or having it dry cleaned. Breaking the habit of sleeping with wet hair should help to get rid of the problem over time.

  37. Author Hhh on May 5, 2022 at 3:10 pm

    Is it okay if u blow dry ur hair and then immediately go to bed??

    1. Author Joanne A on May 31, 2022 at 12:14 pm

      Yes, that would be fine!

  38. Author Cath on May 30, 2022 at 4:56 pm

    I get really tired after doing a ton of school works, so... i take bath and then wait my hair to dry but after a few minutes i fall asleep (Cause im very tired).

    1. Author Joanne A on May 31, 2022 at 12:04 pm

      It's easily done!

  39. Author Ann on June 22, 2022 at 12:10 pm

    My daughter was going to bed with wet hair for well over a year. At 14 she started losing a lot of hair. I would say she lost over half of her hair. I took her to the dermatologist who thought she had a fungal infection, and they put her on ketoconazole 2% shampoo, I bought her new pillows and pillowcase and I wash her sheets and pillowcases very often. After eight or nine months of hair loss the hair loss is finally slowing down and some hair seems to be growing back. I’m not sure that she’ll ever get back all of her hair but it definitely looks better than it did last October and November. She now dries her hair completely before bed every night

    1. Author Joanne A on September 9, 2022 at 12:52 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story!

  40. Author Mrs. B. on July 28, 2022 at 1:12 pm

    I live in the desert and there is no air conditioning, so it will be in the late 90s F in my room. I sweat all night long, especially my head and neck, which naturally gets my hair wet. I wake up with soaking wet pillow and sheets. Not sure how to control this.

  41. Author layla on October 15, 2022 at 4:23 am

    wow didn’t know that! is it ok to sleep with wet hair once? i showered an hour before i went to bed so my hair was still pretty wet, i used a silk pillow case too.

    1. Author Joanne A on November 10, 2022 at 3:06 pm

      Hi Layla! We're sure that once won't have any long term impact, though probably best to avoid it when you can.

  42. Author Harmony on November 12, 2022 at 3:53 pm

    Thanks so much for this information. I have been washing my hair whilst in the bath every evening, then going to sleep with damp hair for years, as I thought it was better for your hair not to be blow dried. I have suffered from dandruff and hair loss for ages and now I finally know the reason why. I am going to order a hair dryer right now! From an avid reader and fan of Expert Home Tips.

    1. Author Joanne A on November 15, 2022 at 11:57 am

      We're so glad you find our tips helpful, Harmony!

  43. Author Marleygirl on December 13, 2022 at 3:24 am

    I go to bed with wet hair every night. I am now getting ear infections. Do you think they are related?

    1. Author Joanne A on January 10, 2023 at 2:39 pm

      It's possible that sleeping with wet hair is contributing to your ear infections. You might create a warm, moist environment for bacteria and fungus to grow in and trap moisture in your ears. To reduce your risk of ear infections, you should avoid going to bed with wet hair and maintain good hygiene of your ears.


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