Easy Sleeping Hair Styles to Protect Natural Hair

Last updated on December 14th, 2023 at 02:42 pm

Do you go to bed each night focused solely on getting your beauty sleep but without giving any thought to your hair or the condition it may be in the next day? Let’s change that. The easy overnight hairstyles you’ll find below will make styling your hair the next morning trouble-free, along with providing your tresses with a few benefits.

sleeping hair styles for natural hair overnight

Why “Style” Your Hair Before Bed?

​You may be wondering why you should take the time to style your hair before bed. Especially if you know you’re just going to need to restyle it the next morning.

While this may be true in some cases, there are actually some bedtime hairstyles you can do that can carry you right through the following day.

There are quite a few benefits to styling your hair before bed besides just having great hair the next day.

These include:

  • Saving you time on hairstyling the following day
  • Protecting from hair damage while sleeping
  • Keeping moisture locked into your hair strands for a longer period of time
  • Protecting the natural oils in your hair
  • Adding some quick texture to your hair (an option for heat-free curls)
  • Can stimulate blood flow in the scalp depending on your pre-styling routine

At the most, you may need to clean up your edges (if that’s your desire)

Things To Do Before Doing Overnight Hairstyles

how to prep natural hair before bed

​For best results on any style that you choose, always prep with healthy hair care in mind. Some routines to add to your overnight styling regimen include:

  • Scalp massages – stimulate blood flow in your scalp 
  • Adding moisture – give your hair an added dose of moisture with a spritz of liquid moisturizer or a hair tea + some leave-in conditioner
  • Light detangling if needed – helps to prevent further detangling and can prep for a style that lasts longer than during your sleeping hours
  • Oiling – a very famous herbal hair care routine in the Indian community as it promotes long healthy hair growth 

Regularly doing just 1 or two of these will help you to have healthier hair and the best hairstyles.

Tools Needed for Sleeping Hair Styles

tools for sleeping hair styles

Of course, it doesn’t matter how easy the hairstyle. You need the right tools and accessories to maintain it.

These are your absolute must haves and are mentioned at various points beneath the sleeping hair styles below:

  • Silk or Satin Scrunchies
  • Hair Tie (1-2)
  • Satin scarf or Silk Scarf
  • Silk bonnet or satin bonnet made for sleeping
  • Silk pillowcase or satin pillowcase
  • Mesh edge wrap band
  • Edge Scarf (also made of satin or silk)
  • A Wide-Toothed Comb (optional if you have tighter curls)

While you won’t need to use all of these tools every time you go to bed, you will need them based on the sleeping hairstyle you are doing.

However, the tool you do need for all of your sleeping hair styles is the satin or silk pillowcase. The type of pillowcase you sleep on will greatly determine if you wake up with moisturized or dry hair.

Cotton pillowcases will leech the moisture right out of natural hair. So, it’s best to avoid sleeping on them. Especially after you’ve put so much effort into moisturizing your hair before bed in the first place. 

You want to avoid using things like bobby pins and even a claw clip on your hair over night. These items (while great for daytime styling) can cause friction leading to breakage while you are sleeping.

Mulberry Silk Hair Ties:

Mesh Edge Wraps:

Edge Wrap Scarfs

Sleeping Hair Style #1: The Loose Bun

loose bun

By far, the best way to style your hair over night (because it’s likely the easiest!) is in a loose bun. It requires zero skill but if secured well, you don’t need to redo the bun.

The messy bun look will always be in style. It’s one of those easy protective styles that you run to when short on time.

All you need to do is part your hair (optional) where you want it to appear the next day, do a little finger detangling to smooth out your hair and secure the bun.

The best part is you don’t actually need a hair tool to secure the bun if your hair is pretty long. When you wrap your hair around into a bun, it will self-secure. Otherwise, just use one of your scrunchies to hold it in place. Tie down with a scarf and head to bed.

Pro Tip: The next day you can rock a messy bun or use a little hair gel mixed with a little hair oil (ex: argan oil) along the perimeter of your hair to neaten it up a bit.

Sleeping Hairstyle #2: The Pineapple Style

pineapple sleep hair style

Very popular for those of us with natural curls, the pineapple method is simply gathering all of your beautiful curls to the top of your head and very loosely securing them into a high ponytail with either a scrunchie or one of those elastic bands that have no seams.

To further secure the hair into the pineapple, you can gather all of your hair, secure it with one of the tools mentioned above, tie on your scarf so the hair is coming out of the top and then remove the hair tie.

This cuts down on the risk of demarcation lines appearing when you take your hair down the next day.

​The pineapple method doesn’t work for everyone with curly hair though and it’s definitely a style that takes some getting used to doing.

If you have wavy hair, this may not be the right sleeping hair style for you because you may loose definition to an already loose curl pattern.

Pro Tip: To avoid losing definition don’t put wet hair in a pineapple. All your curls need to be dry. 

Sleeping Hairstyle #3: The French Braid or Dutch Braid

braids for sleeping

For a little more “pre-style,” do a french braid or a dutch braid. Both will give you natural-looking waves. It really just depends on how well you know how to braid.

French braids require an over-handed technique while dutch braids require an under-handed technique.

Both braid styles are great for sleeping in and you only need to create one braid. This style works better for those with medium length to longer hair.

Pro Tip: Use a little leave-in conditioner to add moisture to your braid

Sleeping Hairstyle #4: Large Bantu Knots

bantu knots for sleeping

Doing a few large bantu knots on stretched hair or blown out hair is an easy way to get really nice beachy waves on your natural hair.

You can do 2-4 bantu knots. Alternatively, you can do a two-strand twists before wrapping them into bantu knots.

Without the twists, you’ll get more of a wavy hair appearance. You’ll get slightly tighter curls with the twists.

Pro tip: This isn’t always an easy style to sleep in when done tightly. Secure with a small scrunchie so you don’t have to wrap them as tight.

Sleeping Hairstyle #5: The Low Ponytail

banded ponytails
Banded Ponytails

There’s a love-hate relationship when it comes to doing ponytails on natural hair, any hair type really. That’s because if not careful, the ponytail can cause hair breakage.

To avoid that when styling over-night, keep the following in mind:

  • No tight ponytails
  • Secure at the nape of your neck to keep straight hair smooth

You can also style your hair in 1-2 ponytails secured down the length of the ponytail in bands to stretch a wash and go style.

Pro Tip: Add a little oil to your hair tie to reduce friction from the ponytail holder.

Sleeping Hairstyle #6: Loose Braids

braids on fine natural hair

Doing overnight braids is a great way to give short hair and long hair alike a bit of texture while protecting your hair from moisture loss.

You can braid your hair in a number of ways based on the results you want to achieve the next day.

Rope braids will give you a more coiled look and while done a bit tighter can still be done in a loose fashion. 

Dutch braids will give a look more similar to regular box braids.

Two large braids are great for quick styling. Or, braid in a few more braids for a more defined braid out the next day.

However, results will vary based on your curl type and if set on wet or dry hair.

Pro Tip: Braid up damp hair for an even more textured look in the morning. Just make sure it’s dry before you take it down. If not, you can convert it into one of the best protective hairstyles with a few bobby pins and a little hair jewelry.

Sleeping Hairstyle #7: The Fishtail Braid

fishtail braid sleeping hair style

Probably the most complex hairstyle for sleeping in, the fishtail braid is definitely the most beautiful. It can also hold up for several days and even when it gets messy, it looks like it was meant to be that way.

​This braid style is also one of the most comfortable hairstyles to live in for days at a time, even when it starts to come undone. It gives a sort of BoHo feel to it.

Pro Tip: Protect the ends of your hair by folding the braid under and tucking them into the braid. This can be done with all braid styles.

Sleeping Hairstyle #8: The Doobie or Hair Wrap

Depending on where you live, you may call it a doobie (Dominican name) or you may just refer to it as wrapping your hair.

Regardless of if you hair is natural (blown out or straightened) or relaxed, a great way to maintain your hair and prevent it from becoming a tangled mess is to brush it around your head in a circular fashion and tie it down with a scarf.

In fact, this tends to be the go-to nighttime hairstyle for those with relaxed hair or those with natural hair after getting a silk press done.

I haven’t done it in many years so I have no images to share but the tutorial above is an easy one to follow.

Sleeping Hairstyle #9: The Top Knot

top knot sleeping hairstyle

The top knot is a slight variation from a high bun. It’s a good option from time to time and even makes for a great protective hairstyle. Just don’t make it too routine. Securing your hair in an upward fashion all of the time can put stress on your hair strands.

Also, to keep a top knot from falling out, you do have to make it a little more snug than the other overnight hairstyles.

Pro Tip: Skip using hair elastics to secure the base of the top knot. Loosely wrap it in place and put the elastic (always seamless) or scrunchie over the knot. If you want to keep the style the next day, you can easily slide off the elastic or other hair tie and re-secure more snuggly without removing the knot.

How to Choose an Overnight Hairstyle

overnight hair styles for curly hair

As you can see, there are so many sleeping hair styles to choose from. Just about all of them are an easy hairstyle to do but there are some things to keep in mind when choosing a style.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you decide:

  1. Is my hair long enough to look good in the style if I choose to keep it in?
  2. Will this put too much stress on my strands?
  3. Can I achieve a heatless look with this overnight style?
  4. Can this style be done on damp hair or does my hair have to be dry?
  5. Will this style cause my hair to have more volume or lose it?

This is just a handful of questions to ask yourself when considering a hairstyle you plan to sleep in.

If you found this guide on sleeping hair styles helpful, then check out these tips on:
How to Fix Bed Head for Curly Hair

Also, for a more complete hair care companion, The Beginner’s Guide to Caring for Natural Hair Daily

sleeping hair styles for bed

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Michelle Smith

Michelle is a Christian natural hair enthusiast. She's been natural for 20+ years and shares natural hair care tips and easy hairstyles for those with low density or thin fine natural hair. It's her joy to inspire you to live by faith in God while caring for your "crown."

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