How to protect your hair while you’re sleeping, explained by an expert

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The way you sleep can have an impact on your hair. From breakage to split ends, here’s how to prevent hair damage while you sleep.

Maintaining a consistent nighttime skincare routine may be second nature for some – but when did you last pour that much time and attention into caring for your hair before bed?

Without proper overnight protection, hair can weaken and sometimes even break during sleep.

“While you are asleep, your hair may be subjected to unintentional friction and pulling caused by tossing and turning,” explains Dr Ophelia Veraitch, who leads the hair clinic at Cranley Clinic, London.

From pillowcases and hairstyles to sleeping with wet hair; the way you set yourself up for sleep can have an impact on the condition of your hair.

But of course, making these simple switches won’t prevent hair loss completely. “Unfortunately, hair loss generally is triggered by something deeper than the type of pillowcase we are using – whether it’s stress related or scalp disease,” says Dr Veraitch. “If you’re concerned about hair loss or hair shedding see an expert who will be able to prescribe suitable treatment and advice for you.”

Here, Dr Veraitch runs through some of the truths, myths and misconceptions around achieving healthier hair overnight.

Do silk pillowcases help to protect your hair?

“There is some evidence to suggest that silk pillowcases can protect your hair,” explains Dr Veraitch. “A lot of hair loss, especially in afro-textured hair, is traction-related and so using a silk fabric which allows your hair to move and slide naturally will help to prevent unnecessary breakage.”

However, she adds: “It’s important to remember that a silk pillowcase won’t remedy a problem that requires medical attention. If you’re worried about excess hair loss it is best to see a specialist to get to the root of the problem.”

Do silk hair coverings help to protect your hair?

“A silk hair covering would work in very much the same way as a silk pillowcase. The idea behind these products is to reduce any traction between the hair and the pillowcase,” she says. Additionally, silk hair coverings can help with oil absorption.

Are there any protective hairstyles you can do before sleeping?

If you’re wearing a silk hair covering, you may not need to worry about a protective hairstyle. However, if you don’t have one, Dr Veraitch says: “I would always suggest avoiding elastic bands at night. Tying your hair up with an elastic band will put undue stress and tension on your hair shaft and roots which can then cause unnecessary breakage.” If you absolutely need to use one, opt for one made from gentle materials, such as silk or satin.

Should you brush your hair before sleeping?

“It’s a great idea to brush your hair before sleeping,” she says. “This will help to prevent tangles becoming worse over night but this won’t necessarily have any impact on hair loss or hair growth.”

Is it okay to sleep with wet hair?

“I’d suggest not sleeping with wet hair,” says Dr Veraitch. “Hair is at its weakest when it’s wet. The main risk is breakage of hair when tossing and turning while sleeping.

“If you then braid your hair or tie it up [when it’s wet], you will add more tension to the hair shaft. If you can’t avoid sleeping with wet hair I would suggest leaving it down.”

Best products to nourish hair while you sleep

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