Some argue that sleeping without a pillow can actually benefit your hair, but is this true? In this article, we investigate further.
With proper precaution and forethought, sleeping without a pillow can be of great benefit to your hair. However, finding a pillow best suited for your hair type and routine should always be considered beforehand.
How A Pillow Can Ruin Your Hair
It almost sounds crazy to think that something as innocent as a pillow can be the cause of your unhealthy hair.
Surprisingly, multiple studies have shown that sleeping with your locks laying on an unsuitable pillow can lead to a slew of hair issues.
Some of the most common hair troubles caused by pillows are:
- Thinning hair
- Matted strands
We’ll go over how your pillow can be the cause of concern for those problems in the rest of this section.
Pillows Can Cause Breakage
Different from hair fall, hair breakage occurs when a strand of hair doesn’t pluck from your head at the root but instead rips in the middle of the growth.
This can lead to split ends, frizz, and a thinner-looking head of hair over time.
Though breakage is a common problem amongst women, it’s almost always caused by dehydration or the overuse of heat products.
However, if you’re diligent about your moisture and heat protector, and still notice half-strands all over your pillow when you wake up, you may want to take a closer look at your sleeping conditions.
Due to the friction of your pillowcase, you could accidentally be ripping your hair while you toss and turn in your sleep.
This isn’t necessarily your fault, but rather the fabric of your pillowcase.
Most pillowcases are quilted or woven of thick cotton fabrics. While comfy, these cases have rigid finishes that all hair types aren’t able to move with.
This subsequently traps your hair underneath you when you move throughout the night.
With the right amount of pressure (and it doesn’t take much), you’ll end up breaking your hair.
Pillows Can Cause Thinning Hair
While breakage can be to blame for thin-looking strands, sleeping with a pillow can impact the thickness of each of your hair strands as they grow in.
This is already a big concern for those with mature strands and for those who constantly dye their hair.
You, therefore, want to try and find ways to avoid accelerating the process where you can.
The reason for your hair growing thinner after sleeping with the wrong pillow boils down to blood circulation (or lack thereof!).
Sleep is the optimum time for your body to heal and for new cells to grow. This includes the cells that make up your hair follicles.
With a lack of healthy circulation, your roots won’t be able to maintain healthy hair growth.
This means that instead of thick, strong strands, your hair will grow thin in diameter and noticeably more fragile.
Pillows Can Give You Matted Strands
We’re sure that there’s been more than a handful of instances where you go to brush your hair after a good night’s rest and find that you can’t even it through your hair.
These moments are incredibly aggravating, especially since they always end with a handful of hair fall or breakage.
Just like with breakage, friction is to blame for your hair tangling in your sleep.
Regardless of it being silky smooth before bed- a couple of hours of tossing and turning can work your hair into some knots that any Girl Scout would be proud of.
Pillows Can Cause Greasy Hair
With blankets, pajamas, and the heat of your room, there’s likely been an occasion or two where you’ve woken up in a hot sweat.
It’s normal, but it can be annoying to deal with, especially if you’re trying to train your hair to go longer between washes.
There’s an unfortunate sacrifice that’s made when you go for a dense, cushy pillow.
With your head resting against all of that cushioning for 6+ hours every single night, you’re creating a pretty optimum environment for heat to get trapped.
That heat, and subsequent sweat, will leave you with greasy-looking locks the following morning.
Although a blast of dry shampoo can remedy that, constantly exposing your hair to products (or cleansers) can dry your hair out exponentially.
Hair Benefits Of Sleeping Without A Pillow
Healthy Blood Flow
Without the compression on your neck from laying on a pillow, the chances of healthy blood production increase significantly.
With improved flow to the brain and scalp, not only does this mean fewer headaches when you wake up, but over time it can directly impact the health of your incoming hair growth.
With more blood flowing to your head, you can expect thicker growth, less breakage, and even the growth of new locks.
We empathize with this sounding too good to be true, but the relationship between hair growth and blood circulation has been measured for years- all studies proving the link between the two.
Without your hair condensed against a cushion every night, you’ll notice an air of breathability surrounding your scalp.
Since you’re preventing your hair from heating up too much in one area, you’ll cut down the look of a greasy scalp in the morning!
Oily locks can also be in part to your pillowcase keeping hold of the sweat from your scalp, redistributing it back onto your strands every night.
Cut out the middleman altogether to keep your hair looking cleaner and longer.
Less Breakage and Thinning
With a thick pillow comes a heightened chance for sandwiching your strands, so eliminating one allows your hair to move freely throughout the night.
A change this simple can reduce friction, which in turn keeps your hair from pulling and snapping while you get some rest.
Though damage reducing, you may only see a significant difference in this if you use a thick pillow, or one with a cotton-based pillowcase (as these are particularly damaging).
Otherwise, sleeping directly on your sheets won’t make much difference in the strength of your strands.
And of course, it is important to note that if you suffer from any type of neck injury, back pain or neck pain, you should absolutely consider these matters a priority over your hair.
How To Prepare Your Hair For Sleep
This is applicable for people ready to go pillowless, but can also be helpful for those who don’t want to sacrifice the comfort of a cushion every night.
Don’t sleep with wet hair
Always make sure you go to bed with dry hair. Wet locks are more fragile than dry strands.
Though they’re at their most hydrated, they aren’t elastic, which is what helps your hair “bounce back” when stretched out.
If you go to sleep with wet strands and toss and turn in your sleep, you’ll be left with significantly more breakage.
Brush hair before sleeping
Don’t forget to thoroughly brush your hair before you go to sleep. You don’t have to spend more than 2 minutes doing this, but although quick, it’s a step that makes all the difference.
A brush through the strands distributes healthy oils through your hair, keeping your hair slippery, and it works out knots so they don’t get worse while you snooze.
Don’t Use products last minute
Apply products at least an hour before bed to give them time to absorb before bed. This ensures that your hair has taken in every last drop of formula and that they’ve dried down enough to be elastic.
This also keeps products from smearing all over your pillow.
Loosely Tie up your hair
If your hair is dry or stubborn, you can also consider tying it down before you go to sleep.
Keep the style loose and easy on your roots to prevent breakage.
Our favorite sleeping styles include a low pony or braid, the latter can leave you will some body and texture the following morning, making it particularly favorable!
The Best Way To Sleep Without A Pillow
Sleep With A Bonnet
This is an inexpensive way to keep your strands friction, frizz, and breakage free!
By putting your hair in a bonnet every night, you’re adding a slippery layer in between your strands and your bedsheets- allowing your hair to glide, and decreasing oil production.
This method also preserves curls the best.
Though there’s also an option for folks who aren’t fans of their head being concealed at night!
While they can be a bit pricy, splurging on a set of silk sheets can preserve the youth and radiance of not only your hair but your skin as well!
That way, you can sleep breezily, free to toss and turn without worries of tangles or breakage.
Sleeping With The Best Pillow For Hair
Before you decide to go pillowless, chances are you can find a middle ground by making the switch to a pillow and case that can retain the health of your hair.
In our opinion, the type of cushion that’s universally careful with all hair types and lengths is a medium-firm, silk-lined pillow.
Silk pillowcases have been long revered for being extra gentle on strands. They’re soft, breathable, and allow for that glide that most other pillowcases can’t come close to replicating.
If silk isn’t an option for you, you can always opt for a satin pillowcase as well (though you may find it leaves your hair a bit frizzy in the mornings!).
The main reason for our recommendation of a silk pillow is that it doesn’t compress your hair like cotton cases.
This is incredibly helpful for those who move a lot while they snooze. Your hair can easily move with you, lessening the chance of breakage.
Another reason to go for silk pillowcases is that they don’t hold on to heat or oils like thickly woven fabrics. This allows your hair to hold onto its moisture, reducing friction and frizz.
As for the medium firmness, we find that this density of pillow lessens the chance of your hair “sandwiching” in between your head and the cushion, subsequently decreasing the possibility of tangling.
Despite that, it’s still thick enough to offer support and comfort for your neck.
Sleeping with a pillow is typically something that most people don’t think twice about. In spite of it being a standard addition to your bed, you now know that your hair can seriously benefit from buying a specialty pillow, or by going without one altogether.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Silk pillowcases are revered for being notably gentler on the skin. Due to their movability and inability to hold onto oil, they can prevent wrinkles and acne respectively.
It can be concluded that all hair types can benefit without the friction of a pillow. Adopting any routine that reduces tension, oiliness, and breakage is universally advantageous (though curly hair types will likely see the most results).
Your hair will not see any cons to going without a pillow, but your body likely will. Going long amounts of time without neck support can increase muscle pain in your back and neck, which is why we always recommend finding a hair-compatible pillow over skipping out on one entirely.
Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide professional or medical advice. All of the content on LovedByCurls.com is for informational purposes only. All advice should be followed at your own discretion. Ingredients may change at any time so always check the product label before using. Check our full disclaimer policy here.
Dee has been following the Curly Girl Method for over four years and is our in-house Curly Girl expert. She has a keen interest in natural haircare and has tried and tested her share of CGM products. She has a photographic memory of most sulfate and silicone-free hair products available on the high street and she’s always happy to recommend you her favorites.