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? 

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

pillows
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

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

towel
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 pillow cases every second day. 

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

Author

Joanne A

Editor

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!

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  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!

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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?

    Reply
  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?

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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!

    Reply

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