Want to get that Beyonce feeling every day by jumping out of bed with a head full of soft, luxurious curls?
It’s time to cut down on the frizz and put those bad hair hairs behind you. You too can wake up like this with our guide of how to sleep with curly hair without ruining it.
What makes hair curly?
Curly hair is caused by the shape of the hair follicle. Generally, oval-shaped hair follicles will create curly or ribbon-shaped hair.
The rounder the hair follicle, the more straight the hair is. The flatter the follicle, the curlier the hair is. There are different types of curls, caused by different hair follicle shapes. Some hair types will form tight coils from flat-shaped hair follicles, which is common in black hair.
No matter what type your hair is, you need to give it some extra care and attention to put all the frizziness and dented curls in your past.
Luckily, this guide will show you how. So, read on to find out how to sleep with curly hair without ruining it.
What type of hair curls do you have?
Before we can answer how to sleep with curly hair without running it, you need to determine what curl type you have. Each curl type has slightly different properties, changing the way that you should care for it and sleep at night.
Generally, there are four hair types:
- Type 1: straight hair;
- Type 2: wavy hair;
- Type 3 curly hair;
- Type 4: coiled hair.
Each type of hair has a separate subclassification of A-C, based on the width of the hair. Type As having a wider pattern or curl with type C having the smallest or tightest curl.
You can find out your hair type here.
Let’s look at the three curly hair types in a little more detail.
Type 2: wavy hair
Type 2 hair is bendable waves that have an ‘S’ pattern. They also lay close to the head, which means they fall downwards, instead of curling out to the side.
- Type 2A hair gives very fine and subtle waves that are similar to softly tousled beach waves.
- Type 2B hair is slightly thicker and more wave-like than type 2A. This type of hair will be harder to straighten and look like natural beach waves.
- Type 2C hair is much thicker and gives well-defined waves, similar to pop star Lorde.
Type 3: Curly hair
Type 3 hair is full curls that resemble your stereotypical ringlet.
- Type 3A curls are very loose and wide curls, that look similar to an 80’s disco style.
- Type 3B curls are springy and bouncy curls with the width of a marker pen.
- Type 3C curls are incredibly tight corkscrews that are densely packed together.
Type 4: coils
Sometimes referred to as afro-textured or kinky hair, coily hair creates incredibly tight and small curls or ziz-zags straight from the root.
- Type 4A hair has very small and well-defined coils about the diameter of a crochet needle.
- Type 4B hair has thicker, zig-zig shaped hair that can angle away from the head, creating coils that form on the top of the head.
- Type 4C hair has incredibly tight zig-zag patterns that it can be hard to pick out individual strands of hair. This is what is commonly referred to as an afro.
How to sleep with curly hair: wet or dry?
When it comes to protecting your curls at night, there’s one question you must ask first. Are you sleeping with wet or dry hair?
There’s no single answer to this, as sleeping with wet or damp hair that’s just been conditioned is perfect for those with soft type 2 curls, or to help curl type 1 hair without heat, especially if braided overnight.
However, sleeping with wet hair isn’t the best advice for those with type 3 or 4 curls, as it will leave them vulnerable to becoming damaged overnight.
And for those of you who don’t wash their hair every day, sleeping with wet hair isn’t going to be possible. So we’ve gathered some of the best ways to sleep with curly hair, whether it’s wet or dry.
How to sleep with dry curly hair
Protect your curls and make sure your waves remain intact when sleeping with dry hair with these hairstyles.
To extra care, you might want to consider using oils or hair care products before you go to bed. Overnight, your hair will aboard the oils, meaning you wake up with a refreshed, hydrated curls that shine for days.
1. The Pineapple
Named after the fruit, the pineapple is where you tie your hair above your head to avoid crushing your curls as you sleep.
To create the pineapple, tilt your head down and let your hair fall in front of your face. Then begin to gather your hair into a pony shape between the crown of your head and your forehead. Tie loosely together with a silk or satin scrunchie to hold your hair in place, without denting it.
If have shorter hair, you might not be able to keep it all together in a single pineapple pony. Luckily, you can use the same method with smaller, mini ponytails to create the multi-pineapple.
3. Messy bun
A messy bun is a way of loosely tying all your hair together, and off your face as you sleep. It will also help retain your volume but can lose curl definition overnight.
To create a messy bun, flip your hair over like you’re doing a pineapple. Then, before you put a scrunchie in, twist your hair together and loosely wrap it around before securing into place.
4. Use a silk scarf or bonnet
Don’t want to tie your hair up at night? Keep your curls from being crushed and tangled in the night by slipping on a silk scarf or bonnet to give them the added protection they need.
Just make sure it’s made of silk or satin. Using a cotton scarf on your head will damage, dry out and straighten your curls.
How to sleep with wet curly hair
In the wet hair camp? These hairstyles will protect your curls and leaving you with gorgeous, refreshed and hydrated hair in the morning.
Don’t jump immediately from the shower to bed though. There’s a difference between sleeping with damp hair and sleeping with sopping wet locks. In this case, you’re much better off with the former.
1. The ‘plop’ method
This is the simplest method for sleeping with wet hair as it involves ‘plopping’ your wet hair into the scarf, towel or t-shirt of your choice to help dry and protect your hair at night, without taking all the moisture away.
Start by flipping your hair and gathering it at the centre of the towel before bringing the furthest part close to your neck. Then start twisting the two sides of the towel (or two arms of the t-shirt) and tie them together to keep it in place.
If you’re using a towel, make sure that it’s microfibre. Regular cotton towels will just damage your curls overnight, leaving you with overly dry and brittle hair.
2. Two-strand twists
This method is great for those that aren’t great at braiding because it only involves two strands of hair. If you have thick or Type 4 hair, this method works well for you.
To put twists in your hair, grab a small section of hair and split them into two even sections. Then, starting from the two, start wrapping and twisting the pieces around each other and secure at the end with some cream.
Using cream or gel to hold your twists in place is better than using a bobble, so you don’t leave a dent in the ends of your hair.
Braids are the classic go-to to keep your hair secure all night long while helping to preserve and shape the curl.
The style of braid is up to you. Some people prefer french braids, which start at the roots to preserve the whole head, while others with type 2 hair might prefer to start the braid in the middle.
If you have thick or type 4 hair, using small braids or cornrows will help protect your hair the best.
4. Bantu knots
Bantu knots are a traditional African hairstyle that has been used to protect type 3 and 4 hair and produce big, bouncy curls.
To put Bantu knots in your hair, separate your hair into sections. Generally, the bigger the section, the larger the curls. When you have a section in your hand, twist the strand of hair before wrapping it close to your head to create a tight knot. Then, secure the ends by tucking them in, or bobby-pinning them into place.
5. Flex rods
Flex rods are like sleeping with rollers in, without the uncomfortableness of sleeping with rollers in. Instead of wrapping your hair into bunches, they are flexible and soft rods that wrap around your hair and hang down the side of your face, making them comfortable to sleep on.
For extra volume, use smaller rods on top and larger rods on the bottom of your hair.
This is also great for people with Type 1 or 2 hair that want to great temporary, extravagant curls that are against their usual look, without using heat on your hair.
6. Banded ponytails
If you want to sleep with your hair up, without shaping the shape of your curls with braids, you can use banded ponytails. This is where you create a normal ponytail, but add extra hairbands in every inch or so to help elongate and protect the natural ringlet shape.
It’s also a great method to use on kids, who won’t sit still to have their hair braided every night.
The best pillowcases for curly hair
If you want to protect your curls at night, you need a silk or satin pillowcase.
Cotton is one of the worst things you can do to your hair. It dries it, breaks it and absorbs your hairs moisture overnight, leaving you with a birds nest on top of your head. So, get rid of those cotton pillowcases and get yourself a silk or satin one that protects your curls.
Now you have the right pillowcases, lets talk pillows. Because the best curls are always worn best on well-rested people that have had their recommended hours of sleep.
To find the pillow that best suits how you sleep at night, or other gadgets for a peaceful night, you might want to check these guides out:
- The Best Pillows For Side Sleepers On The Market Right Now;
- The Best Anti Snore Pillows In The UK Right Now;
- Somnox Review: The cuddly sleep robot;
- Kokoon headphones review: listen to soothing audio & music as you sleep;
- Dodow review: the light sleep aid that helps people fall asleep 2.5x faster.
How to sleep with curly hair & feel rested
No matter how tired or lazy you may feel, if you want luxurious curls in the morning, you need to put in the prep the night before. Although this might seem like you’re delaying sleep, it could actually help you get a better night’s sleep by becoming part of your nighttime winddown.
Better sleep comes from great sleep hygiene. This is basically healthy habits and routines that encourage better sleep at night, including:
- Limiting your caffeine intake, especially at night.
- Avoiding gadgets bright lights before bed.
- Winding down before you go to bed with a good book or relaxation exercises.
If your nighttime routine becomes turning off your gadgets and clearing your mind while doing your hair, then that’s good sleep hygiene.
For more sleep advice and guide, check out our tips to getting a good night’s sleep.