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How To Sleep With Curly Hair

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One of the questions I get most often is how to sleep with curly hair, so that you don't need to refresh every day, especially from those new to the curly girl method. Sleeping with curly hair seems to be something many curlies and wavies struggle with.

If you want to know how to sleep with curly hair, you have 4 simple options:

  1. go to bed with completely dry hair that has ‘set'
  2. use something to protect your hair like a buff or silk pillowcase
  3. try a protective hairstyle like a ‘pineapple'
  4. use a scalp treatment serum and/or dry shampoo for scalp issues

Successfully sleeping with curly hair is not as hard as you think. Let's go over these 4 options so you can see how easy it is to sleep with curly hair and spend less time fussing with your hair in the mornings.

Delilah pictures with pillow sleeping with curly hair

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how to sleep with curly hair

1. Go to bed with completely “set” hair

On wash day, I make sure to wash my hair early enough that it is completely dry before I fall asleep.

I also try to wait at least an hour after it has dried for the style to set before putting on the buff.

This means I usually wash in the afternoon and I try not to go out so that my style doesn't get ruined. That's not always possible but it helps me have lasting results.

The way your hair turns out on wash day is very important because that's the style that will lock in and what you'll be preserving for the next few days.

Some people wait to scrunch out the crunch until the morning which helps your curls stay put overnight.

Experiment both ways and see what works for your hair. Leaving the cast on longer gives me more definition but it kills my volume so I scrunch out the crunch soon after my hair has dried.

2. Protect your hair at night with something like a buff and a silk pillowcase

The most important step is using a buff every night (pictured below). This is the one thing that makes the biggest difference. I held off on trying this for years because I didn't think it would do much but I wish I had done it sooner.

I took a poll on my Instagram stories recently, and it seems that using a buff and silk or satin pillowcase are the most common ways curlies protect their hair at night.

Delilah's hair in a hair buff to sleep with curly hair

I use the same buff maybe 2-3 nights because they do stretch out. I make sure to pull it down over my ears so that it stays on all night.

The buff will slide up and possibly come off so I also have a silk pillowcase. I have one that's only silk on one side which makes it affordable. You can read more about the benefits of silk pillowcases here.

Some people struggle with the buff staying on their heads while they sleep. In this case, you can clip the sides above your ears to try to hold it in place.

It's even more important to use a silk or satin pillowcase if you can't keep your buff on.

Silk scarves and bonnets are other options aside from a buff that you can use to protect your hair while you sleep.

Simple curlies and wavies facebook group

3. Try a protective hairstyle

Protective styles may work for you instead of a buff.

Pineapple, medusa clipping, and a bun or braid are some ideas. Experiment with these and see which works best for you.

Because my hair is so thin and easily disrupted, I can't put up in anything without ruining the curl pattern so I just pull it in a buff and leave it like that.

A pineapple is pulling it all into a ponytail at the top of your head. Some people wrap a silk scarf similar to the way the buff is used as well.

I have also seen some people sleep in the plop, either wet or dry. I do not recommend sleeping in a wet plop because it's bad to leave your hair wet for so long. But a dry plop might work for you.

4. Use a scalp treatment or dry shampoo for scalp issues

I like to use the Briogeo Scalp Revival treatment serum on my scalp. This serum is water based, not oil, and it helps to moisturize and balance my scalp to reduce itching and flaking.

You can see how I apply it in this hair routine video. I basically apply a drop to my hands, emulsify and rub all over my scalp in sections. This stuff has really made a difference in letting me go longer between washes.

If you tend to have oily roots you can apply dry shampoo before bed.

I use the Scalp Revival line because it helps my scalp and I usually apply some on day 3 and 4. Massage it in well and it absorbs overnight so that by the morning your hair looks fresh.

Delilah using briogeo scalp revival to wash hair less often

Optional: Do scalp massages

I also do a scalp massage using this massager after applying a little more of the scalp treatment on day 3 or 4. This helps keep my scalp calm and feeling fresh. If your scalp gets itchy or oily then this can help with that.

I usually do this at night before putting on the buff but I have done it in the morning if I feel I need it.

I like to do a quick scalp massage in the morning without the serum after taking my hair out of the buff as well. This will help fluff your hair and resettle it.

Delilah using a scalp massager

So these are the basics on how to sleep with curly hair to keep it looking decent for several days.

Like I said before, the hair buff is the most important one so if you only take one piece of advice from this post, it should be to at least try that.

Sleeping with curly hair doesn't have to ruin your hair!

I'll also share this quick video on how I refresh my hair below.

Tips for Fine and Thin Curly Hair

If you specifically have fine or thin curly hair as I do, it does better with less manipulation. Remember that fine hair is more prone to damage and more easily loses its curl pattern so you need to be more delicate with it.

I find that my hair does better with just a buff versus using a hair tie or combining the two. I don't stuff my ends into the buff but you can try that and see how it works. I've tried sleeping without a buff on my silk pillowcase and it's nowhere near as effective as the hair buff.

I think the buff just holds the hair in place so well and there is very little friction so that's why it works so well. So if you have thin or fine curly hair give a buff or wrap a try without a hair tie or bun.

curly girl method pdf guide download

If you want help with embracing your naturally wavy or curly hair, you can join my FREE email course and download my FREE pdf guide, THE QUICK START GUIDE TO MASTERING YOUR CURLS, full of everything you need to know to get started and bring out your beautiful waves and curls.


Also, you can follow me on Instagram or Facebook and subscribe to my blog.

Thanks for reading and leave any questions in the comments.

Simple Curlies and Wavies Facebook group

Fabulous Curls Academy

Fabulous Curls Academy offers the curly hair resources you need to master your curls and create the routine that will give you fabulous curls. Check out the digital downloads and courses to help you have the defined, bouncy curls you want. The monthly membership is the most affordable way to access everything you need to embrace your curls with success. Click here to learn more.

Delilah Orpi shows budget nontoxic products to try when using curly girl method

Curl Coaching

I now also offer Curl & Clean Beauty Coaching sessions virtually! You can book a 15-minute, 30-minute, or 45-minute session with me to help you solve your curly hair or clean beauty struggles. Click here to learn more.

Curl and clean beauty coaching

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curly girl night routine - how to sleep with curly hair
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  1. You are so smart to figure an easy and comfortable way to preserve your curls at night! I just got a set of the multifunctional outdoor headwear yesterday and slept in one last night. It worked so much better than tying a silk scarf around my head. And of course, the pineapple does not work on my very
    fine soft hair,like yours. I appreciate all your little tips and tricks and love looking at your site! Thanks so much!

  2. Where are the best places to buy cheap but decent silk cases or wraps? or can you use tshirts too? I have a hubalou but some people say that takes the moisture out and I don’t want that, trying to take better care of my hair.

    1. You want to check for a couple of things when choosing a silk pillowcase. A high price does not always indicate quality. You can find a cheaper case on Amazon which will work well but it may not last you very long because it starts to tear. Check for the silk momme weight. If you choose a case with 19momme or higher, you are getting a thicker silk case that will last longer. If you see a silk grade of 6A, even better.

  3. Most nights I sleep with my curls loose on a silk pillowcase and if I put my hair up in a pineapple or pull I will wrap in a silk scarf tucking the ends to avoid headaches from knots. The scalp massager you highlight here looks great. I saw a lady on IG using something similar after add oil drops to her scalp. I did not know it was a thing. Looks like a great idea and way to keep your fingers clean.

  4. Hi! I have hair SO very similar to yours. I’m just switching to CG method, but I notice my scalp can get itchy at times too. I read a post somewhere on products you recommended to help with that, but now I’m not able to find it (excluding what is mentioned above.) Do you have any other recommendations at all? Thank you!

    1. I have 2 other posts that talk about scalp care:

      I recommend you clarify often, use a scalp scrub once a month, keep styling products off your scalp, and go to the dr if it doesn’t go away. Also, check for itchy m’s in the ingredients. Those are Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone.

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