What Happens When You Sleep with Wet Hair?

What happens when you go to bed with wet hair? Well, just like the skin, it undergoes changes which only seem to happen overnight.

Some people prefer to get up in the mornings and start the day with fresh and clean hair. It saves time in the mornings if nothing else. On the other hand, others like the idea of showering and washing the hair at night and this is fine, but should they sleep with wet hair?

The question could be further investigated by asking, “What doesn’t happen to wet hair overnight?” You see, the hair is like a piece of elastic. It stretches about an inch and a half when it’s wet.

Surely, this is noticeable when the hair is curly as opposed to straight, but the same thing happens when the hair is washed. It’s nice to know the hair is longer than it looks, but having it pulled, especially when wet, is not so good. It can pop, break and leave strands on the pillowcase or comb. You need to protect the hair from split ends.

What are some of the other things that happen when you sleep with wet hair? Keep reading to find out!

While Sleeping, This Is What’s Happening to the Hair

Some believe that we will catch a cold if the hair is wet when we go to bed. However, some people agree with Dr. Charles Smith in believing there’s not an ounce of truth to that claim. We get colds by being exposed to the virus.

A cold is an infection of the upper respiratory system, and it’s not brought on due to wet hair, hands or feet. Who’s Dr. Smith? He’s a medical expert at UAMS, Family and Preventative Medicine, trusted by thousands of families and colleagues in his field.

Furthermore, to catch a cold, a person would need to be around another person having the virus. If the hair is wet and the room temperature is cold enough to induce freezing, hypothermia will set in, and in this case, getting sick is highly possible.

The pillow and pillowcase are causes of infection. The pillowcase holds bacteria, sweat, and dirt which comes from the hair and scalp.

When we sleep on a pillowcase, and the hair is still wet, it becomes a nesting area to bread other bacteria and can cause other scalp problems.

  • Note: Hanging the pillowcase out in the fresh air or the sun will reduce bacteria lingering in the pillow and pillowcases.

Scalp Fungus

As mentioned earlier, the pillowcase is a common place for bacteria to set up home. It holds dead skin cells and natural oils produced by the body along with other secretions from the body. Even if you wrap a towel around the head to protect the pillowcase, it will eventually get wet.  The consequences are fungi.

  • Note: There is a difference between sleeping in a towel and wearing it around the house for a couple of hours. Wearing a towel to hold in heat during the daytime is okay.

Hair Breakage

It’s known hair it at its weakest point when it’s wet.

The way the hair is dried can do damage to the strands and scalp if it’s pulled, twisted and tugged at. When it reaches its breaking point, the hair will snap and fall off. But that’s not all. The ends will split, and the hair will frizz up. Here are some ways to prevent frizzy hair.

Going to Bed with Damp Hair

When it comes to sleeping with wet hair, we have established this is a no-no and what causes infection. Still, some people prefer to do so. What about going to bed with damp hair? Is this any different from sleeping with wet hair? The difference is minimal. However, there are ways this can be done safely.

Follow this step-by-step guide to protect your hair from damage:

  1. Lift the hair with a volumizing hairspray
  2. Comb through using fingers
  3. Put the hair into a high, but free [loose] ponytail
  4. Then, twist until the hair forms a bun, making sure it’s loose
  5. Secure it with pins and go to bed

Be careful not to set the bun too high or too tightly because the hair needs to breathe. If it doesn’t get enough space between the strands, the hair won’t dry completely. When you get up in the morning, remove the pins and shake the hair loose and use fingers to comb out.

Some people suffer from frizz simply due to the climate, but to control it, we suggest the following:

  1. Spray the hair with argan oil or a conditioner left in overnight
  2. Comb hair thoroughly to distribute oil or conditioner
  3. Wrap hair using an old silk shirt or silk scarf
  4. Turn off the lights and go to sleep
  5. The next morning, unwrap and comb out

Damage caused by sleeping with damp hair

How to Sleep With Wet Hair without Damaging It

Sometimes, going to bed with wet hair may be unavoidable. In this case, learning the dos and don’ts are critical to prevent any hair damage.

Here is a quick step-by-step guide:

  1. Moisturize the scalp and strands of the hair before retiring for the evening. It will help prevent breakage and frizz. Leaving the conditioner in will also have an effect the day after as well. Use a conditioner with plenty of vitamins for added protection.
  2. Part the hair and section it off into small portions to help eliminate breakage and to help to dry it overnight. Sleep in a bonnet or shower cap.
  3. Always use a silk or sating pillowcase or scarf. This will make the hair shiny and reduce any friction during sleep.
  4. Brush or comb the hair into a ponytail, but remember not so tight that it doesn’t allow to air dry. Tie a scarf around the temples or edges of the hair for a smooth look in the morning.
  5. Use soft tools to tie hair [sponge rollers] instead of plastics [clips] which will pull and stretch the hair.
  6. For a quick and easy style, braid the hair. Add conditioner and lightly braid hair into a fishtail. Take down braids, of course, using the fingers, in the a.m. or leave in for a casual, yet stylish look.
  7. Alternatively, leave the hair down and loose. However, this option requires the use of conditioners or mousses, so the hair is more manageable in the morning.
  8. Make sure the hair is tangle free before going to bed with wet hair. Comb out the knots before the hair dries because when the morning comes, there’s going to be a mess to deal with.

Tossing and turning during the night can cause heat and friction and ultimately, damage to your hair. Dragging the hair across the pillows at night can cause some hair loss. The hair becomes tangled and knotted up.

Once it does that, and it’s dry, detangling the hair may become difficult and cause breakage. Try using a detangling shampoo or spray before coming out or before sleeping with wet hair.

Can Sleeping with Wet Hair Cause Dandruff?

Does having greasy hair, wet hair lead up to having dandruff? All the signs say it’s possible. The overexposure to moisture confuses the oil production glands or sebaceous gland, and it will disrupt the hair’s natural pH levels.

It can produce more or less oil to the scalp, and if it’s less, then results are dandruff flakes. Dandruff shampoos will help treat dry, itchy scalp, however, strive to prevent it from happening in the first place. To treat it, get an understanding first of the kind of dandruff invading the scalp.

Are the hair and scalp experiencing oily or dry flakes? If the dandruff is wet, it can be a little more difficult to deal with and get rid of than dry dandruff. The symptoms are pretty much the same, but one is harder to treat than the other.

The production of oil in the scalp is common, and it happens to the majority of people. The sebum or lack thereof is what makes the hair oily or dry.  Producing too much can be serious. It’s a cantankerous situation, and nobody should have to go through it.

When the scalp is dirty and oily, there’s a problem. It will get even worse if not taken care of promptly. This condition could magnify itching and cause infection. Regretfully, it can spread to other parts of the body.

Don't go to bed when your hair is wet

Does Going to Bed with Wet Hair Cause Headaches?

Will wet hair cause a person to have headaches? To some, this may be an odd question, but don’t worry, it’s a valid one. The body’s temperature rises while we sleep. What happens when the hair is wrapped in a towel while sleeping?

The head will get warm, and because of the humidity, it can cause a person to have a headache. With this said, the answer is yes, wrapping the head in a towel to sleep with, will cause headaches.

Other people say when we don’t dry the hair normally, the moisture from the hair will have a cooling result. This will indeed drop the body’s temp and lead to other health-related issues. Depending on the weather conditions or the environment, a person could face hypothermia or at the very least, a headache.

This is something to think about, isn’t it? Perhaps you never thought that by sleeping with a towel wrapped around the hair, a person could have aches and fungi. Nevertheless, now the truth is out and preventative measures are on the table.

We’ve debunked the theory wet hair causes colds but it is also related to headaches, bacteria, and fungi. There’s certainly a way to do all things, including what happens when you sleep with wet hair.

Wearing a towel is only acceptable during the day, and we run the risk of making matters worse wrapping the hair in a towel to sleep overnight. Using a silk or satin pillowcase or scarf will help protect the hair while sleeping especially when damp or wet.