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To sleep on wavy hair without ruining it, put your hair up in a very high and loose bun using a scrunchie. Your hair bun should rest on top of your head, not behind it. Sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase or wearing a satin bonnet will help reduce breakage.
If you have wavy or curly hair, then you know that sleeping with your hair down can have you waking up looking a bit like medusa. Or maybe you look like you walked through a hurricane. When I sleep with my waves down, the back often gets flattened, too.
Sleeping your hair in a “pineapple”, or loose ponytail or bun on top of your head at night, will keep your head from smashing your waves while you sleep. Use a scrunchie loosely instead of a traditional pony tail holder, and you won’t get indents in your hair.
The material of the scrunchie you use to pineapple with matters! Try to find one that is really smooth, satin or silk are great options. They will introduce less frizz vs scrunchies that are more textured. My top choice is silk or satin scrunchies, then ‘regular’ scrunchies, and I avoid scrunchies that are velvet, terrycloth, etc at all costs.
Another key aspect to sleeping on wavy hair without ruining it, is making sure your hair has good hold. If you wash your hair and don’t use a styling product with hold, your hair will fall flat pretty easily. If you use a product like gel or mousse that has hold, that will help protect your hair pattern while you’re sleeping. Using a product with harder hold may result in hair that is harder to ruin.
What about long, short or thick hair?
How to pineapple long hair
If your hair is too long to wear in a traditional pineapple, you can gently wrap it in a loose bun, and use loose clips to hold the ends out of your face. Or, you can pineapple your hair and then wear a satin bonnet over it to keep it in place.
If your hair is really long, your waves may fall into your face if you do a simple ponytail or bun. The photo above would not be a very good way to sleep! When my hair was almost down to my butt, I put it into a scrunchie multiple times and then used large, loose clips to hold the ends like this:
Then I put a satin cap over it to help reduce hair breakage, while also helping to keep the ends in place and out of my face.
How To Pineapple Thick Wavy Hair
To pineapple thick wavy hair, you may need an extra large scrunchie. If a regular scrunchie is too tight and indenting your hair, that is a sign that you need a bigger one. You need the scrunchie to be a bit loose to avoid damaging your wave pattern.
While my hair isn’t that long anymore (about collar bone length) I still struggle with using a basic hair pineapple. My current trouble is, my hair is just so thick! If I used a standard scrunchie and twisted it twice to make a bun, it would smush or flatten part of my hair. My solution? I found the Jumbo Scrunchie from Scunci. This is seriously a HUGE scrunchie. Yet, it has nice elastic so it fits around my wrist and will stay in place, despite easily stretching to MANY times that size! I use this to pineapple my thick wavy hair by wrapping it around a bun 3 times. I love that it’s a silky or satin type material so it doesn’t cause frizz.
The jumbo scrunchie from scunci on my wrist, vs stretched to the max around my legs.
How To Sleep On Short Wavy Hair
To sleep on short wavy hair that is too short to pineapple, try a partial pineapple. Make a loose bun to hold up the top half of your hair. If you can include hair from about ear-height on up, your lower hair can be left down and won’t be flattened as much.
My hair is now just above my shoulders and I find that a partial pineapple works great at this short, but not super-short length. I try to include the hair from about mid-ear height on up. When sleeping, the weight of my head is primarily on that part of my head between my ears. So the hair in that section of my head is most at risk of being flattened. My hair is of a length where I can pull hair from that height up to protect it from being smushed. I leave the rest of my hair down, and it doesn’t get messed up too much. Plus, even if that hair does flatten a bit, it’s up against my neck so it’s not the hair that most people see much, anyway.
Another way to sleep on short wavy hair is to use medusa clipping. If your hair is too short to partial pineapple, medusa clipping is a great option for how to sleep on very short wavy hair without ruining it. Check out this Real Life + Curly Girl video to learn how to do it.
How to avoid frizz while sleeping on wavy hair
To avoid having your hair get frizzy overnight, sleep on a satin or silk. You can wear a satin or silk bonnet, wrap your head with a satin or silk scarf, or use a satin or silk pillowcase. Wearing your hair into a loose ponytail or bun can reduce frizz too.
If your hair rubs against your bedding while you sleep, that friction can cause frizz. To reduce frizz while sleeping on wavy hair, using a satin bonnet and/or satin pillowcase can help! Satin pillows are slippery, so it’s really helpful to have a headboard or to have the head f your bed against the wall. Otherwise, it might sleep off the bed at night! Another option is to wrap your hair with a satin or silk scarf. If frizz is a big issue for you, check out my post how to fix frizz in wavy hair.
If you decide to wear a bonnet to sleep on your wavy hair, it may take trying a few brands/sizes to find the bonnet that fits your head best. They make drawstring bonnets so you can adjust the fit a bit, but I found that the stay on bonnets with elastic edges stay on my head better. That particular stay-on style I linked to there are slightly too small for me as-is, and I don’t think I have a particularly big head. To make them a bit bigger, I take scissors and snip in the center of the back, to add just a little bit more space. This works for a few months or so usually, but then over time the tear will usually widen to where it gets too big. When I measure around my hairline it is 24 inches if you want to compare to your own head size. My best fit was a 3 pack of satin sleeping caps, and I thought the quality was great too.
Head scarves or bonnets may fall off overnight, especially before you find the size that fits you best. Using both a head wrap or bonnet and a satin pillowcase gives you an extra safety net, so to speak. This way, if your bonnet or scarf falls off, your hair will still be against the satin pillow.
If you don’t want a satin pillowcase choosing a low-friction pillowcase is still a step up. For example, I used to use a microfleece pillowcase, but fleece is more textured than cotton. If you use fleece/microfleece or flannel pillowcases, going with cotton would be an improvement.
How to sleep with wet wavy hair
I personally have found that sleeping on my wet wavy hair is just a bad idea. For my hair properties, it just does not turn out well. However, I’ve read where others say they sleep on wet hair each time they wash their hair. If you want to sleep on wet wavy hair, sleeping in the plop in the way to do so. If your hair takes a long time to try, I’d recommend diffusing your hair so that it is dry before bed. For my hair, if it’s even a tiny bit damp still when I go to bed, it’ll ruin my results. Check out my post how to diffuse wavy hair for a diffusing tutorial.
Sleeping in the plop
“plopping” your hair is common in the girly curl method community. It involves taking a cotton t-shirt and using it to wrap your hair, instead of using a towel. It’s designed to create less frizz vs using a towel. It can help remove some of the water while preserving your natural curl pattern, thanks to your curls being held in their pattern up against your head. Check out my how to plop tutorial with pictures if you want to learn how to do it yourself.
Most often, plopping is done for just a short period of time. Plopping for 10-30 minutes is common.
Sleeping in the plop is simply leaving the t-shirt on your head overnight. For some people, sleeping in the plop means they’ll wake up with dry hair. For others, their hair may still be damp and will need to be diffused or air-dried the rest of the way.
Sleeping In The Crunch aka sleeping in a gel cast
While I personally haven’t had luck with sleeping on wet hair, I am able to successfully sleep in the crunch. If you aren’t familiar with ‘the crunch’ it is a hard cast that forms over the outside of your hair after washing your hair and applying gel or mousse and letting your hair dry. It looks wet, and feels crunchy/cripsy. Most people who follow the curly girl method will ‘scrunch out the crunch’ to break the cast and make hair look and feel softer.
However, you can hold off scrunching out the crunch until morning, if you shower in the evenings. I do this sometimes. I just go about my normal wash day routine, let my hair 100% dry, and then pineapple my hair while it’s in a cast or while it’s in the crunch. Sometimes when I wake up after sleeping in the crunch, my hair will have no cast left. Sometimes just rolling around at night will scrunch out the cast. Other times I will still have to scrunch it out in the morning. You can learn more about gel casts in my blog post what is a gel cast and how to create one.
Why sleep in the crunch?
If I leave my hair in a hard cast overnight, it can’t introduce as much frizz overnight. The gel cast works as a protective layer until it’s scrunched out.
Want to know more about naturally wavy hair care? Check out my blog post directory to find more posts with info to help you on your wavy hair journey.