Is Sleeping Without a Pillow Good For Your Hair?

We’ve all gone to bed with slightly damp hair. I never thought it even made a difference, but the science says otherwise.

Is Sleeping Without a Pillow Good For Your Hair? The wrong pillow can cause unnecessary friction and poor sleep patterns, not to mention some pillow covers are made from tougher materials than others. If you have the wrong pillow for your exact sleeping style, you’re better off sleeping with no pillow at all.

In this article, we’ll explore exactly how sleeping without a pillow (or better yet, finding the right pillow for you) will actually improve the overall health of your hair.

Reduce Friction and Hair Strand Damage


A pillow that’s wrong for your individual sleeping style, will leave you tossing and turning as you struggle to support your head and neck while keeping your spine aligned.

This action of constantly adjusting your pillow throughout the night creates friction between your hair and the pillow surface.

After several weeks or months of this, you’ll have significantly reduced the structural integrity of the cortex that surrounds the soft medulla base of your hair strands.

Restless sleep also causes more “bed-head” which takes longer to style in the morning. Undoing the chaos means more brushing and pulling at the follicle or root of the hair. This causes further breakage and hair loss. Repeat this process day-after-day, for extended periods of time,  will leave hair much more fragile and ultimately result in visible thinning.

If you find it more comfortable to sleep without a pillow, the reduced friction will leave your hair less damaged. If you are a “combination sleeper” you will need a pillow that gives you comfort and support regardless if you are sleeping on your back, side or stomach.

Another useful tip to consider… Your hair is more sensitive when it’s wet, so going to bed with wet hair increases the risk of damage. To avoid this, dry your hair or tie long hair into a braid to minimize friction and tangling.

Choose Silk Or Satin Pillowcases over Cotton


The inherent roughness of cotton fibers in your pillowcase prevents your hair from gliding around easily.

Cotton also draws out moisture from your hair by absorbing the nourishing oils into the fabric. This results in hair that is dry, brittle and prone to breakage.

Either way, even without a pillow, your head will rest on the bed sheet, (which may be cotton too).

On the other hand…

Silk or satin pillowcases have much lower friction and allow your hair strands to move smoothly across the material.

They also prevent breakage by maintaining your hair’s natural oils, rather than wicking it away, leaving it healthy and nourished.

Improve Unhealthy Sleep Patterns

A poorly designed pillow can cause hair loss due to the resulting sleep disruption. Inadequate sleep weakens your immune system and increases your body’s production of the stress hormone, cortisol. This triggers an imbalance in the endocrine system designed to regulate your body’s hormone levels.

Hair is very sensitive to these changes, and as a result, hair loss occurs.

Another problem is that lack of sleep inhibits Melatonin. Studies have found that Melatonin directly affects hair growth which means that a decrease in quality sleep and Melatonin production leads to hair loss.

Yet another victim of an imbalanced endocrine system is the thyroid gland. Prolonged hypo & hyperthyroidism can cause a dramatic loss of hair. Studies directly link thyroid imbalance to conditions like balding and alopecia.

The Verdict

Basically, Bad Sleep = Unhealthy Hair!

So make sure you have the right pillow, or at the very least, avoid your bad pillow altogether.

Here are some other possible benefits of sleeping without a pillow.