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  5. 9 Effects Of Sleeping With Wet Hair

If you are aware of the old adage which says one should not eat before swimming, then you must have also heard that sleeping with wet hair can make you ill. With no solid evidence or logical explanation, it is possible that you must have overlooked the reminder. But, are there any possible harmful effects which you haven’t considered?

Generally, the health risks and ill-effects of sleeping with wet hair are negligible. However, based on the condition and texture of your hair and other issues [1] that you might be facing (such as dandruff and itching), you should wait till your hair is fully dry before sleeping.

Scroll down to discover whether sleeping with wet hair is a good or bad idea and its side effects.

Is Sleeping With Wet Hair Good Or Bad?

According to the ancient science of Ayurveda, your hair health is defined by the three doshas present in your body – Kapha, Pitta and Vata. An imbalance of the three doshas or life energies impacts hair health.

Wet hair is fragile and susceptible to breakage. When wet, your hair cuticle, which is the outer layer of your hair shaft, opens up, making your hair more brittle and stretched. When the open hair cuticle stretches some more, it becomes prone to breakage. This usually occurs if you brush or comb your hair when it is wet, or when you move your head around while sleeping.

The quantity of hair you usually lose is based on your hair type, the natural condition and texture of your hair and various other factors which are particular to you. These include hereditary traits, chemical or colour hair-treatments, usage of heat-based hair styling tools, and the extent of damage your hair has undergone.

Sleeping with damp hair may further cause hair breakage, making it necessary for you, to skip the habit. But, if you haven’t noticed any harmful effects until now, then you may continue with the practice of sleeping with wet hair.

9 Side Effects Of Sleeping With Wet Hair

woman with long wet hair

1. Severe Hair Fall & Breakage

Your hair becomes extremely fragile and brittle when wet. Hence, you may experience hair fall and breakage when you leave your hair wet before going to bed. When you turn and move around, the friction between your wet hair and the pillowcase may cause your hair to snap and break more easily.

2. Cold & Sore Throat

If you sleep in an air-conditioned room or during the peak of winter season, damp hair can give you the chills. It is possible to catch a cold and sore throat due to your wet hair. Avoid rinsing your hair before going to sleep in order to prevent the flu.

3. More Expenditure On Hair Styling Tools & Products

Nobody desires to flaunt a bad ‘bed head’ look! Your hair sets into place once it gets dried. When you sleep with damp hair, your hair dries and sets haphazardly as you toss and turn in your sleep.

Usually, the most affected parts are the ends and crown of your head. You can smoothen your hair only by restyling with hair gels, aerosols, heat styling tools [2] or serums. Not only do you have to invest time to style your hair, but also money to buy these hairstyling products and tools. Overuse of these tools can further damage your hair.

4. Affects Your Immune System

Sleeping with wet hair doesn’t cause any grave illness, but can indirectly suppress your immune system. Your body temperature is usually low during the night, and sleeping with damp hair further drops your body temperature. Studies have indicated that a lower body temperature minimizes your immune response to sore throat and common cold [3].

5. Promotes Bacterial Growth

The combination of warm temperature and water leads to an exponential growth of bacteria. When you sleep with wet hair, your pillow grows damp. The damp pillow and your warm head make the pillow an ideal breeding ground for mould and bacteria.

Frequently changing your pillowcase and bed sheet will not help much, as the dampness from your wet hair must have already penetrated inside your pillow.

6. Causes Dandruff

Your wet and damp hair along with the warmth of your head will eventually lead fungi and bacteria to multiply on your pillow as well as your scalp. When you sleep with damp hair, both natural oils and moisture from your hair are sucked up by the fabric. The depletion of natural oils and increase in bacterial growth causes dandruff and itching on your scalp.

7. Leads To Dull & Lifeless Hair

When your hair’s natural oils and moisture are soaked into your pillowcase, your hair becomes lifeless, dull and dry. This makes hair easily breakable. There is a vast difference between the hair which is deprived of its natural oils and the hair which is dry in texture.

8. Causes Scalp Ringworm

Sleeping with damp hair may also cause scalp ringworm. This is a type of fungal infection which occurs in moist and warm conditions. Scalp ringworm is highly contagious. Hence, it is imperative to wash and clean everything that comes in contact with your infected scalp.

9. Causes Acne

When your pillow becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, fungi and moulds, it is likely that you will have an acne breakout on your skin soon. Therefore, it is important to dry your hair properly before going to sleep.

How To Sleep More Safely With Wet Hair?

A. Ensure that your hair is not wet

Ensure that your hair isn’t so wet that it dampens your pillow easily. Allow your hair to dry naturally before sleeping in order to minimize your risk of dandruff and damage.

B. Switch your shower hours

It is a myth that sleeping with wet hair once will lead to hair fall the very next day. You begin to experience hair fall and breakage only when you sleep with damp hair quite frequently. Therefore, avoid making hair-wash a daily night time practice, and switch your showering hours. Washing your hair occasionally before going to sleep isn’t going to cause any severe problems.

C. Avoid tying your hair

Sleeping with damp hair that’s tied up in a tight bun or pony can lead to hair fall and breakage. While some feel that tying a loose bun helps to flaunt waves or curls after waking up, continuously wearing such tight hairstyles while sleeping can put more pressure on hair.

These hairstyles pull at the hair follicles causing damage. This can be severe if your hair is damp and already susceptible to hair fall.

D. Avoid other causes of hair breakage

The extent of damage while going to sleep with damp hair is also based on the extent of damage your hair has already experienced. Hence, you must try and avoid frequent heat styling, straightening and colouring your hair. Also, keep a check on other causes of hair breakage that may be related to your diet, stress levels, weather and health conditions.

E. Use silk or muslin hair wraps and pillowcases

Silk and muslin pillowcases and hair wraps are beneficial for both your hair and skin as they’re natural fabrics which don’t cause any friction. As these are smooth and soft when compared with cotton pillowcases, the movement of your hair isn’t hard and aggressive. Avoiding elastic hair ties can help too.

F. Follow a healthy diet

Avoid consuming salty, oily, sweet and spicy foods which may affect the Kapha-Pitta dosha state in your body. Try and follow a healthy diet which nourishes your scalp from within and strengthens your hair follicles.

Some of the nutritious foods for strong and healthy hair which you may include in your daily diet are cucumber, peanuts, methi (fenugreek) seeds, pomegranate, buttermilk, green grams, walnuts, almonds, amla, and coconut.

G. Use natural & mild hair products

Ayurvedic hair oils and cleansers are highly effective in treating and preventing hair fall as they are natural, mild and soothing. Most of the ayurvedic herbs have moisturizing and nourishing properties. Ayurvedic herbs which you may consider for preventing and managing hair fall include:

  • Shatavari
  • Guduchi
  • Bhringraj
  • Brahmi
  • Amla
  • Jatamansi
  • Methi
  • Panikoorka
  • Kalmegh

Dos & Don’ts While Going To Sleep With Wet Hair

woman using towel to dry hair


  • Sleep on a silk or muslin pillowcase as this will minimize friction and prevent hair breakage.
  • Dry your wet hair with an old, soft t-shirt as this will cause less damage than blow-drying or regular towel.
  • Apply a leave-in repair serum or conditioner to nourish and strengthen your hair.
  • If you still want to continue sleeping with damp hair, then you may consider using a waterproof pillowcase.


  • Avoid sleeping with damp hair if you wear hair extensions as they will tangle.
  • Don’t use the same pillowcase for a long time. Try and change your pillowcases frequently to avoid any fungal or bacterial growth.
  • Don’t shower just before you sleep. Rinse your hair in the evening as this will let you dry your hair before you go to sleep, without wetting your pillow.

The Last Word

Damp hair is in a fragile condition with a weakened internal state. Hence, a little friction or resistance leads to its breakage. Many hair experts advise against sleeping with wet hair which is tied in a bun. The accepted and sensible way to sleep with damp hair is to apply a hair serum or leave-in conditioner which may save you from extensive damage. Using natural products and choosing a healthy lifestyle can help you enjoy strong and healthy hair.

Know Your Dosha Now

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