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When I was younger I was told not to go to sleep immediately after a shower. But what happens when you sleep with wet hair? Is it really bad? Read on to know.

I think we all have come across this advice of not sleeping with wet hair. But is there an actual scientific reason behind this? Or is it just another old wives’ tale?

Related: Is Cold Water Good For Hair Growth

Related: What’s The Best Way To Dry My Hair

Apparently, our grandmothers were right! Going to bed with damp hair is actually harmful to hair health. 

And it can lower your body temperature too, leading to mild health problems like colds and headaches.

Here are some of the reasons why you should avoid going to sleep with wet hair. 

What Happens When You Sleep With Wet Hair 2021

Fungal Infections

What happen when you sleep with wet hair

Did you know that hair experts recommend changing your pillowcases often and using hypoallergenic ones like satin cases? 

This is because the sweat from your body and the already-existent sebum on your scalp can create a nurturing environment for bacterial and fungal infections.

And if you add dampness to the mix, then we are talking about the perfect home for fungal infections like Malassezia to occur.

These infections can lead to several problems like itching, flaking, folliculitis, hair loss, and many others. 

If you’re especially unlucky you might catch a case of scalp ringworm as well. 

So it’s always best to dry your tresses before you hit the bed. 

Hair Breakage

Your hair is really fragile when it’s wet. The cuticles are open and the follicles are weakened as well.

And this is exactly why you shouldn’t comb or brush your hair when it’s wet. 

The friction between your strands and the hair and pillowcases can cause damage.

This might lead to hair fall as the strands break off from the follicles. 

Also, the hair is more prone to frizziness, split ends, and other injury making it more prone to breakage. 


does sleeping with wet hair cause dandruff

As I’ve mentioned above, wet hair can be a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria and fungi.

These issues might manifest in the form of dandruff. And we all know how irritating dandruff can be!

The itching, flaking, and crust formation on your scalp is not worth the laziness of sleeping with wet hair.

Scalp and Face Acne

Just like dandruff, acne is also a direct result of the bacterial and fungal growth in your hair that’s exacerbated due to dampness. 

Remember it’s not just your hair lying damp on the pillow. Your face is touching the pillowcase as well.

This buildup of bacteria when it gets clogged in the pores leads to acne and other skin infections.

Extra Styling Time In The Morning

sleeping with wet hair headache

When you’re hair goes from wet to dry, the strands get “set” into place. This is why most people like styling their tresses when they are wet.

But when you go to sleep with wet hair, your strands are “setting” into place in all sorts of weird, twisted shapes.

Remember the phrase “bed head”? Well, here’s the reason for it.

You can especially notice this frizziness and unruly texture on the crown of your head. 

So when you have to style your hair the next morning you have a total mess to work with.  

And untangling and smoothening this mess might take precious minutes of your morning time. 

Also, you might need to re-wet your hair, use heat styling tools, and large amounts of styling products like hair gels or hairsprays to tame your hair.

None of these things are good for the health of your locks. 

If you’re washing your hair at night and going to bed with damp hair to save yourself time in the morning, it all adds up to nothing if you’ve spent more time in the morning styling your hair.

Weakened Immune System and Sickness

Does wet hair cause cold and fever? An age-old question! 

As a child I believed wet hair could directly give me a cold, later on, I rejected this idea as unscientific superstition.

However, I later learned that our elders might have been on to something! 

No, sleeping with wet hair cannot CAUSE a cold. You can catch a cold or flu only due to viruses.

But… sleeping with wet hair can lower your body temperature, minimizing the protective ability of your immune system. 

So sleeping with wet hair can make you more prone to catching a cold. 

Also, the wet environment of your head creates a hospitable environment for bacteria and viruses to thrive, increasing the chances of you falling sick. 

Dry Hair

Your hair is prone to losing its natural oils when you sleep as the fibers from pillowcases can absorb these oils from your strands.

This is why you should sleep on satin or silk pillowcases that are mostly non-absorbent. 

But this situation is worsened by wet hair. Your hair’s prone to losing much more of its moisture if you sleep with wet hair.

A lot more of your hair’s natural oils are absorbed by your pillowcases along with water from your strands.

So going to sleep with wet hair often can make your hair seem dull, dry, and lifeless. 

How To Sleep With Wet Hair Without Damaging It

If you simply have to wash your hair before bedtime, that doesn’t mean you have to sleep with wet hair. 

And even if you do, there are some measures you can take to reduce the damage on your tresses. 

Here are some things I like to do when sleeping with wet hair is unavoidable.

Postpone your bedtime

Or prepone your shower. Whatever works! You just need to leave a gap of at least 2-3 hours before you wash your hair and go to sleep.

This should dry up most of your hair. 

Blow dry your hair

If your hair isn’t dry completely before bedtime, you can blow dry it on a low heat setting to speed things up.

Invest in satin or silk pillowcase

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This is a piece of great advice generally and not just for going to bed with wet hair. 

Using a satin or silk pillowcase can mitigate some of the worst effects of sleeping with wet hair like dryness, scalp flaking, etc. 

It also reduces friction on hair and prevents fragile wet hair from breaking as the satin or silk cases do not have long fibers like cotton ones. 

Oil your hair 

how to sleep with wet hair without damaging it

Oiling your hair using a nourishing carrier oil like coconut oil can reduce some of the ill effects of sleeping with wet hair. 

The oils help smoothen hair cuticles and prevent hair from becoming too frizzy or unruly in the morning.

Also, oil reduces water absorption, so your tresses won’t look as dull or dehydrated in the morning. 

A word of caution, don’t overdo the oiling, especially if you have conditions like seborrheic dermatitis or acne-prone skin.

Apply a protective hair serum or leave-in conditioner

If you have oily hair and scalp and do not want to try the above tip, try using a lightweight leave-in conditioner instead.

Using a hair serum or leave-in conditioner can help reduce friction, smoothen hair cuticle, reduce chances of moisture loss, and strengthen hair.

If your hair is already weakened due to bleaching, chemical treatments, etc. you should use a hair serum before bed.

Detangle hair

Yes, you should limit combing your hair when it’s wet. But do you what’s worse than pulling a comb through wet hair? The absolute mess your untangled wet hair will be in the morning!

So use a scalp-friendly detangling brush to get rid of any knots and tangles before going to bed. 

And if you’re using hair oil or a leave-in conditioner afterward, all the better. 

FAQs about sleeping with wet hair

Does sleeping with wet hair cause headaches?

Apparently yes! Studies have shown that your body’s temperature reduces when you are sleeping. When you are in the REM stage of sleep, the body lowers its temperature to match the room. 
With wet hair, the temperature around your head area will be lower than that of your body. This can constrict blood vessels, reduce blood flow, and cause a headache.  

Does sleeping with wet hair cause a sore throat?

No sleeping with wet hair cannot cause sore throat, only exposure to bacteria or viruses can cause an infection, leading to sore throat and cold.
However, sleeping with wet hair can lower body temperature, leading to lowered immune system defenses.
This makes you more susceptible to sore throat and cold.

Does sleeping with wet hair cause blindness?

Absolutely not! This is a myth and there is no correlation between sleeping with wet hair and eyesight.

If you’re short on time to take a shower in the morning, you might prefer to do it at night. 

But remember to take out a few minutes to thoroughly dry your tresses before settling into bed.

I’ve listed out all these reasons why you can damage your locks if you sleep with wet hair. 

So take the necessary steps to prevent hair fall and scalp infections and to protect yourself from health issues.  

Also Read:

How to remove scalp buildup

Harmful ingredients to avoid in shampoo

How to get rid of smelly scalp

How to relieve scalp pain



Mira is committed to bringing you the latest popular hairstyles, hair care tips, and hair-related products. You can check more of her work on besthairlooks to find fashion inspiration, product reviews, tutorials and more!

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