Sleeping with curly hair is kind of like a science experiment; it takes forethought and planning, special materials, and precision execution. Everything must come together in a perfect sequence of events for the outcome to be successful.
How do I know so much about this subject? Because I’ve been sleeping with curly hair since I was one minute old. Yes, you read that right, I was born with a curly mop of dark brown curls that have been my joy (and nemesis) ever since the day of my birth.
My Personal Experience Sleeping with Curly Hair
The Younger Years with Curly Hair
When I was growing up and learning how to manage my own hair, my mom spent a lot of time teaching me how to protect curls while sleeping. She had a vested interest in figuring out how to keep curls looking beautiful overnight because it meant less work for her in the morning.
One of her solutions was to keep my hair short, making it quite simple to protect the curls while sleeping. In the morning, she just spritzed a little water on my hair, and BOING, my ringlets came back to life immediately!
The Later Years with Curly Hair
As I got older, my mom was no longer in charge of my hair, so when I was 13 years old, I decided to let it grow longer. I’ve never looked back and kept it long ever since. These days it’s all one length, about two inches below my bra-strap in the back.
Some Rules of Thumb About Sleeping with Curly Hair
Sleeping with long curly hair is a lot more challenging than sleeping with short curly hair, but I’ve learned some great tricks over the years. Because of my personal experience, I consider myself a pro when it comes to knowing how to keep curls looking great overnight. And now I’m going to share some of my secrets with you!
First, here are some basic principles to protect your curly hair overnight, regardless of whether it’s long or short.
- Always use a silk or satin pillowcase or a silk or satin bonnet while sleeping.
- Protecting your curls overnight isn’t just for aesthetics. It also keeps your strands free of breakage and split ends that form as your head moves around the pillow while you sleep.
- When using a sleeping cap, moisturize your hair with a nourishing cream or oil that can penetrate the cortex overnight.
How to Sleep with Short Curly Hair
If you’ve taken my advice to use a silk or satin cap when you sleep, you’re already well on the way to protecting your short curls.
Ensure the bonnet isn’t too tight; it won’t do you any good if you throw it off in the middle of your sleep. It also shouldn’t be so loose that it falls off as you toss and turn. If sleeping with something on your head is too uncomfortable, try using a satin or silk pillowcase instead.
How to Sleep with Long Curly Hair
If you have long hair, you should also be using a satin or silk cap or pillowcase. Cotton pillowcases are too rough on curls; the friction between the cloth and your hair causes it to get frizzy and tangled. Not a good look (unless you’re into the bird’s nest style!)
‘Pineapple’ Your Hair (Loose Topknot)
I’ve been ‘pineappling’ my hair for decades (even before the term ‘pineappling’ became a thing!). It’s so easy to do that it just seemed to happen naturally as a way to protect my long curly hair while sleeping. Here’s the “pineapple” technique in three easy steps:
1. Get a loose and comfortable velvet scrunchy. I love big fluffy ones because they have a thick band and stretchy elastic inside, so it won’t slip off at night.
2. Gather all your hair at the very top of your head. Don’t comb or brush it, just use your hands to grab it all together, as if you were making a loose topknot ponytail.
- Make sure to include all the stray pieces and delicate baby curls from the nape of your neck.
- Don’t grab it too tight! The pineapple ponytail has to be loose, so you’ll sleep comfortably and wear it all night long.
3. Wrap the scrunchy around your ponytail hair once or twice until it gets a light grip. Pull your hair all the way through.
- If your hair is shorter or medium length, you can leave the ends out.
- If your hair is long, pull the hair halfway through the scrunchy for the last time and leave the curly ends out. (If those ends are annoying, you can use a few baby clips to secure them.)
How to Sleep with Wet Curly Hair
It’s never a good idea to go to sleep with wet curly hair.
a) It will ruin your pillows
b) You could catch a cold
c) Your hair could smell musty and damp the next day
d) Over time, you could develop a fungal problem due to excess moisture.
Here’s an easy solution to keeping curly hair looking good overnight when it’s wet.
“Plopping” Your Hair
- Towel dry your hair until it’s damp, not wet! (If you touch a square of toilet paper to your hair and it doesn’t break or stick, you’re good to go.)
- Coat your curls with your favorite hair gel or styling cream.
- Bend your head frontwards and drape a microfiber towel or t-shirt around all your hair. Allow your curls to fall over themselves inside the towel.
- Fasten the towel or t-shirt so it will stay secure overnight. The towel/shirt material will absorb any excess moisture overnight.
When done correctly, plopping will leave you with a beautiful set of dry bouncy curls in the morning.
Regardless of how long your hair is, it’s worth taking the time to learn how to keep your curly hair looking great overnight. You’ll save time in the morning, and you’ll save money on shampoo, conditioner, and other hair styling products.