5+ Tips to Prevent Curly Hair Bed Head

Last updated on August 16th, 2023 at 07:25 pm

If you have curly hair, you know it is notorious for tangling while you are asleep.That is, if you don’t protect it and care for it the right way. In fact, if you aren’t careful, you’ll discover first hand how bed head prevents you from retaining length. To retain your precious length, below you’ll find what are considered to be the best tips for how to keep curly hair from tangling while sleeping.

how to keep curly hair from tangling while sleeping

1. First, Start with Detangled hair

It may seem like common sense but the way way to keep curly hair from tangling while sleeping is to make sure it’s already detangled before your head hits the pillow. This will prevent messy hair from getting messier.

If it’s wash day, the good news is you should have already taken care of this step by:

  • Detangling with your wide-tooth comb or detangling brush in the shower
  • Applying a leave-in conditioner which promotes extra moisture

If you are in between wash days and want to keep your curly hair tangle-free while you sleep, there are a few things you can do to detangle your hair before sleeping:

  • With a spray bottle, spritz some water on your hands to help you dampen your hair for manipulation
  • Use your fingers to lightly finger detangle followed by using a wide-toothed comb
  • Apply a hair strengthening oil down the length of your hair. I use this one from Ominira Naturals:
hair oil

This method of detangling shouldn’t disturb your natural curls or curl pattern or cause any hair damage but it’s best on curly hair that’s already been stretched on wash day.

2. Moisturize

The next thing to do is make sure your hair is moisturized.

Before even thinking about how your hair will tangle while sleeping, you need to focus on the condition of your hair before it even hits the pillow.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is so true as it relates to sleeping with curly hair. Making sure your hair is moisturized before you hit the sheets will first off help prevent tangled hair.

It will also prevent frizzy hair and dried out hair.

love this 360 degree continuous sprayer

Here’s a great option for a quick and easy moisture routine:

  • If you have high porosity hair, spritz your hair strands with a little cold water from a spray bottle.
  • If you have low porosity hair, use hot water from the spray bottle.

Alternatively, you can use aloe vera juice or you can apply a little leave-in treatment. This will help to smooth out your hair texture as well.

  • Next, seal the moisture into the hair cuticles with a bit of hair oil. This is especially important if your hair is prone to drying out. Dry hair is not only a recipe for your hair to tangle. It can cause severe hair breakage.

Once your hair is good and moisturized and you’ve prepped it for bed, the next step is to secure.

3. Secure your hair at night

The main reason curly hair tangles when sleeping is loose hair that is allowed to roam free on the pillow. This should not be the case for anyone who cares about the state of the hair when awaking. That includes ladies with straight hair but let’s focus on us curly hair and wavy hair girls.

If you want to regularly have tangle-free hair when you wake up, you need to have a handful of bedtime hairstyles in rotation. Now, these aren’t the hairstyles you go out of the house in. These are moreso, very specific methods of setting your hair while you sleep so there’s less friction to your strands on the pillow

Nighttime Hair “Styling”

To secure your hair at night, you’ll want to take into consideration the style you are rocking the next day.

If you are rocking a curly hairstyle, the best thing to do is secure your hair in a way that protects your curl definition. This could be done by putting your hair in:

  • a Loose French braid or other loose braid
  • a High ponytail at the top of your head

If you want protect your hair from tangling but also stretch your curls out some, you can secure your hair in one of these ways:

  • Large bantu knots secured with elastic bands (this isn’t a good option for fine hair as it will stretch your curls out too much)
  • Loose bun secured at the nape of the neck with a satin scrunchie
  • A French roll secured at the top of the head with a claw clip. The curly ends are left loose so as to not disturb the curl pattern:
image credit: Hairscapades

If your natural hair is in a protective style, all that’s needed after adding some moisture to the hair is to tie it down with a satin or silk scarf before bed. You can also use a bobby pin or two to anchor the scarf to your head.

Another great way to help preserve the style so it looks fresh the next morning is to smooth an anti-frizzing hair serum across the perimeter or outer limits of the hair.

For those with longer hair, here are some night time styling options you can do. Most will have you waking up with nice bouncy curls:

  • 2 Rope braids pinned up or secured with hair ties
  • 1 Large simple braid
  • 1 Large two-strand twist pinned up on the side of your head
  • A Loose ponytail secured at the nape of your neck
  • A fishtail braid
long hair
Fishtail Braid

Side bar: Braids and twists are great styling choices for helping to prevent moisture loss while you are sleeping.

For those with shorter hair, use your scalp’s natural oils to lubricate your strands. Then, the best way to keep your detangled curls from tangling while sleeping is by using bobby pins to pin the hair down Then, after tying your hair down with a satin scarf, put a satin bonnet over it.

Protective hairstyles are also a good option for those with short hair looking to preventing tangles while their hair is growing out.

Double protect the moisture in your hair by covering it with a satin or silk bonnet, scarf or other protective hair tool like a LocSoc.

4. Sleep on a satin pillowcase or silk pillowcase


Sleep with your hair loosely on the top of your head.

This will protect your hair from losing moisture which can lead to bed head. Cotton pillowcases will do just the opposite and absorb moisture right out of your hair and lead to, you guessed it… Tangles.

Tangles can lead to painful knots and split ends as well. So, avoid sleeping on the cotton pillowcases. At the very least, make sure you have a buffer of silk or satin between your hair and the pillowcase if you have no other choice.

Such would be the case if you were staying in a hotel and forgot to bring your own pillowcase. Although, it’s the first thing you should pack if you’re a curly girl!

5. Use a humidifier while you sleep

A humidifier will impart moisture to the air. This moisture will eventually settle into your hair, even as far down as the hair follicles. This is helpful in the event your scarf or bonnet comes off. If you’re like me, rip it off because you’re too darn hot.

how to fix bed head on natural hair

Let’s talk about using coconut oil or a styling product rich in oils

While this tip is not amongst the first tips initially shared when this article was first published, I’d be remise in leaving out the role of oils in preventing tangles.

Coconut oil is a precious natural resource that can help protect your hair’s moisture levels while also improving your hair health. It’s especially useful on the ends of your hair

Often times, it’s not our entire head of hair that tangles. It’s the ends.

Using coconut oil on your ends is one of the best solutions to preventing split ends on long curly hair.

If your hair is extremely long, the ends of your hair tend to hang outside of your scarf. So, when it’s not completely tied up, the ends can dry out as well. Coconut oil prevents that.

Alternatives to coconut oil

If you’re not a fan of coconut oil (many people aren’t), your next best bet is to use another natural oil that promotes moisture retention. Among these oils are:

  • Sweet almond oil
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Argan oil
  • Jojoba Oil

Each of these oils promote moisture within the hair strand.

You can use oils can to lubricate your hair so that it doesn’t tangle.

Sometimes your hair doesn’t just lack moisture. It lacks lubrication. Especially if your hair is curly and your hair’s natural oils have difficulty lubricating the entire shaft of hair.

A Bonus Pro Tip for How to Fix Bed Head for Curly Hair on Wash Day

While the above tips will help you to keep your curly hair from tangling while sleeping, the following tip is especially for wash day.

Before you go to sleep, always make sure your hair is dry. At the very least, don’t go to sleep with more than damp hair.

Please don’t go to bed with wet hair. Wet hair is very fragile. When you lay on it, you are not only risking tangled hair, you will seriously “scuff” up the cuticle layer. This happens because of friction on the wet strands.

So, be sure to use a microfiber towel or an old cotton t-shirt. This is the only time it’s OK to put cotton to your hair. This will help to dry your hair as much as possible.

Some ladies like to go to bed with hair masks and this is OK from time to time. You shouldn’t go to be with soaking wet hair on a regular basis.

Tangled curly bed head is totally preventable. Us ladies with a naturally curly hair type have enough concerns when it comes to hair care and protecting our length. Having a bad hair day when we awaken shouldn’t be one of them.

Lastly, while a flat iron or other type of curling iron may appear to smooth out flat spots on your hair on the next day, they are very damaging to your hair strands and can impact your curl definition. So, it’s best not to rely on these heat styling tools to control bed head.

These simple tips for how to fix bed head for curly hair are a game changer. Especially for those looking to achieve long hair.

Taking the time to give your hair the care it needs to prevent bed head will go a long way in helping you to wake up with fresh hair that’s tangle free.

Styling to Prevent Bed Head for Curly Hair

How you style your curly hair before bed will also help to prevent bed head.

Depending on the style you’re going for the next day, you can secure your hair in a number of ways.

Check out this article on Easy Sleeping Hairstyles.

how to fix bed head for curly hair

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  1. I use satin pillowcases now and boy I can tell a big difference! I usually tie my hair up at night, but somehow my scarf always comes off before morning lol. I might need to grab a humidifier too, just because. My son has one in his room and it helps his breathing.

    1. Mine too! lol. The only thing that I don’t like about humidifiers is cleaning them! and you have to so that mold spores don’t build in them

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