Sleeping with Dreads

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Through the decades, dreadlocks have progressed from being considered a countercultural style and linked with hippies, Rastafarians, and other enthusiast groups to becoming a relatively commonplace selection of hairdos.

Wherever you look now, whether at a hip hop concert or a more formal office environment, you are certain to find someone rocking this hairstyle. But nappy-headed folks can agree that dreads will surely test your patience.

The growing procedure with this hairstyle takes time and commitment. And it doesn’t end there. Improper care for your dreadlocks can make it susceptible to damage (dryness, messiness, or rot) and will eventually create discomfort (itchiness and foul smell).

Basic questions from unseasoned dread heads include:

How to conserve money on maintenance costs for dreads?

How to keep my dreadlocks tidy and free of fuzz?

How to deal with residue buildup?

Hair is an often-overlooked factor when it comes to sleeping. How do you protect your hair from breakage and tangles when you’re lying in bed?

Some people go to drastic measures just to care for their hair! And it is true especially if it’s long or coiffed. Some may alter their sleeping position entirely. Some may even apply special pillows to sleep without disturbing or damaging their hair.

But what if you have dreadlocks?

The difficulty with sleeping when you have dreads is two-fold. On the one hand, without proper care, you can damage your locks. This can ruin your hairstyle and lead to more expensive maintenance costs.

What are Dreadlocks?

Dreadlocks are bundles of matted, tangled, twisted, or braided hair. They often look like dense strands of rope and may self-form naturally or through backcombing, rolling, and more. 

Don’t even think that dreadlocks are a fad, though! There is proof of dreadlocks being popular in many ancient civilizations. This process of hair maintenance has roots in everything, from spiritual beliefs to social stature.

Whatever your intentions may be for having dreads, keep in mind that it is a commitment. That’s because it requires patience to have and maintain your locks. This includes knowing how you can sleep without damaging your hair.

Do You Know: 

Earliest depictions show dreadlocks were highlighted (often with some social connotation) in various ancient civilizations. This includes Crete, ancient Egypt, and Greece.

Even today, you can still spot several cultural and religious groups that embrace this hairdo, including Hindu Sadhus, African Masai warriors, and some indigenous Australian tribes.

Dreadlocks have also grown as a standard selection in western fashion, with huge popularity in the sports and entertainment industries.

How Do You Sleep with Dreadlocks?

If your locks are already “mature”—meaning that you’ve had them for a while—you presumably already know all about sleeping with dreads. But figuring out how to sleep with new dreads is something that you instinctively know.

Caring for and maintaining your dreads is required. That’s because dreadlocks tend to dry, get damaged, and collect dust and debris. You may feel uncomfortable and start getting itchy, but all of these are avoidable with proper care. Here’s how:

Massage Your Scalp

Do not underestimate the value of a healthy scalp, particularly if you are sporting dreadlocks.

The weight and flow of your locks are distinct from that of free-flowing hair and may put stress on your scalp. This can create irritation, itchiness, and discomfort. On the other hand, regular scalp massages will promote hair growth, increase blood circulation, and maintain moisture.

When you massage your scalp, you help in the even distribution of sebum. It is an oily, waxy element produced naturally by the body to preserve and moisturize your skin. You may also apply massage oils to add moisture and soothe an itchy or dry scalp.

When is the right time you should massage your scalp? Right before sleep! This is to provide the oils some time to work their magic on your skin.

Circular movements of your fingertips, from your hairline to right above your neck, will surely create spectacles. It shouldn’t demand more than 10 minutes, but feel free to move slowly if you think your scalp needs a little more love.

Here are some of our favorite oils to use when massaging the scalp:

  • Majestic Pure Fractionated Coconut Oil ($14.98 on Amazon) is a top suggestion. Coconut oil is a handy natural oil that is excellent for skin and hair. It also acts as a carrier oil for undiluted necessary oils.
  • Knatty Dread Crown & Root Oil ($12.99 on Amazon) is produced from all-natural cold-pressed essential oils and is supposed to stop dryness and other skin irritations. It’s vegan and non-greasy, as well.
  • Aria Starr Jojoba Oil ($10.95 on Amazon) is 100% premium grade, pure and cold-pressed jojoba oil with no added scent. Like coconut oil, jojoba oil is handy and can be used for more than just scalp massages.

Use a Leave-in Conditioner at Night

Of course, massaging your scalp is not the whole answer to it. You are still required to apply some conditioner to your dreadlocks, too!

Note that your new dreads may not stand up to some leave-in conditioners, and they may unravel and get a little untidy. Mature locks won’t have this difficulty. But just be careful not to use too much! You don’t want to lay your head with soaked or wet dreadlocks as this may result in unpleasant odors.

Many scalp massage oils can double their ability as leave-in conditioners and are marketed that way. You can still opt for other versatile products or use a separate conditioner. Listed below are some of our favorites:

Clean Your Bed Before Bedtime

Dreadlocks draw dust, small debris, and lint more than you think. Small shreds can easily cling to your locks and embed themselves in between hairs, making your dreads look messy and poorly maintained.

It’s a great idea to use clothes and bedding that don’t shed or leave lintl. You may fancy wearing an occasional fuzzy top, but make sure that your bed is clean. Who knows what your hair will pull up when you’re asleep?

We recommend using a lint roller over your pillows, just to be sure.

Check Your Dreads When You Wake Up

You’ve prepared the best you can, slept peacefully, and have woken up refreshed. What now?

Time to examine your dreads, of course.

As careful as you are when cleaning your bed, some slip-ups may still happen. Check each lock painstakingly and take out any debris that you may find. After this comes facing with messy dreads and loose hairs on the surface.

This is especially common for new dreads, unlike mature dreadlocks. Just simply palm roll each affected lock to compress and help tighten the knots in your hair.

The Best Way to Protect Your Dreads While Sleeping

We already talked about how to take care of dreadlocks before and after bedtime, but what happens while you’re sleeping?

For short dreads, this may not be a problem. The longer locks, though, you have to think about how to preserve your hair while you’re in bed.

Tie Back the Dreadlocks

You may believe that keeping them loose is better, as this is the problem with natural, free-flowing hair, but dreads are very different. To reduce flattening, pulling, and possible hair damage, you can put your dreads up in a bun or ponytail while you sleep.

You can use a hair tie that won’t snag or create more problems for your hair. But it has to be sturdy yet accommodating. Here are some of our favorite selections:

  • Threddies Knotted Hair Tie Set of 6 ($9.98 on Amazon) is not as long-lasting as some products, but the cost is undeniably the friendliest. These hair ties are completely elastic, with no metal or plastic parts that can get caught in your hair.
  • Burlybands Ultimate Hair Tie Set of 3 ($10.99 on Amazon) are durable, seamless, and look very much like heavy-duty variants of the typical hair tie. Though not particularly made for dreadlocks, Burlybands are still a great choice.
  • Loccessories Cream Bone Loc Tie ($13.99 on Amazon) works surely well but is not so budget-friendly. Loccessories produce loc ties with different beads, too.

Another helpful piece of advice for keeping your dreads under control during bedtime is to tie them up in a ponytail or bun.

Fixing your dreadlocks in a bunch is a great way to get them out of the way during sleep. Holding your dreads in a bun also reduces the risk of breaking, pulling, or flattening when you toss and turn.

Making a simple ponytail or bun is excellent for stomach sleepers. Sleeping in this manner keeps the bulk of your hair straight up in the air, away from any stress that could harm them, and secure enough to not interfere with your sleep.

However, if you sleep on your side or your back, you should consider making a bun or ponytail that skews to one side of your head, keeping it away from the portion of your body that is your dominant sleeping side.

A less aggressive option to tying your locks up is to pull the dreadlocks into a loose ponytail and keep them in place with an elastic headband.

Cover Up the Dreadlocks

Why cover up your dreads rather than tying them back? In several cases, this can be a simple matter of choice, but there are real benefits to covering up.

Tying back dreads may be simpler and faster, but it will not help as much when it gets to locking in moisture and blocking debris from sticking to your hair. If dryness and itchiness are something you struggle with, try using a dreadlocks sleeping cap instead of a hair tie.

A more practical and alternative way to tying your dreads up in a bun is to cover them with a cap or sock. A sleep cap sets far less stress on your hair than a dread tie and is also commonly preferred as a comfortable alternative.

A word of advice: Nylon stockings or a durag on new locks may seem like an excellent option if you’re on a budget or dealing with brand new dreads, but it’s not. Anything worn too tightly over dreadlocks can also cause breakage! Make sure that any cap or hat you use to your lock is loose enough to let your dreads breathe while you sleep.

Here are some of our preferred dread sleeping caps:

  • Stay On Satin Pocket Bonnet ($4.76 on Amazon) is composed of a two-sided fabric that is smooth outside and soft inside. It has no elastic material or Velcro for your hair to get caught on.
  • Beauty Town Luxury Spandex Dreadlocks & Braids Cap ($6.95 on Amazon) stars a great fit and great price. However, there are complaints that the fabric bleeds and may leave dark marks on your pillow. It uses elastic materials and is made of nylon, as well. Hand washing and a long soak before your first use may help.
  • Fairy Black Mother Dreadlocks Locs Cap ($19.99 on Amazon) is composed of stretch polyester and spandex, with an inside lining of satin. This makes the product breathable and soft on your hair. It’s a little pricey, but can be worth it if you get the more charming designs that you may also prefer to wear during the day.

Using a dread cap or sock brings the added benefit of preserving your hair from picking up lint and debris from your pillow and bed. A cap can also improve your dreads in locking in moisture, preventing dryness and itchiness.

If you choose to wear a sleep cap into your nighttime routine, take special care to search for materials that bring the right balance of elasticity and comfort.

Sleep on Satin or Silk Bedding

Dreads that are too short to tie back can be uncomfortable even while you are wearing something. Thus, we suggest sleeping on satin or silk.

The best pillowcase for people with dreadlocks is produced from these materials. It may not entirely solve pulling and debris issues, but it will surely make for a better night’s rest.

As this is a matter of choosing the right material, there is no real distinction between products, except for the feature of their craftsmanship.

Hair can become damaged under the friction that happens from brushing against harsh bedding fabrics. Besides the possible damage and frizzing of your hair, this friction can also produce considerable static electricity, producing discomfort and disrupting sleep.

Hence, one of the greatest things you can do for your dreads, peace of mind, and sleep quality is to change out the harsher fabrics in your bedroom for more accepting materials like satin or silk.

Recommendation: When it gets to silk beddings, few brands can match the stellar reliability of Mulberry Parks. Customers agree that their luxurious 900-thread count tight design satin sheets and pillowcases are one of the best options on the market.

Just Get them Out of the Way

Sometimes, you don’t need any specific tools or ways to sleep with dreads. You just simply have to push them out of your head and body, and you’ll be okay.

However, this advice will only serve people that have longer dreadlocks. Nonetheless, you can try different placement styles until you obtain the one that suits you.

Ditch the Pillow

For individuals with extra long (or thick) dreads, sleeping with the extra loft of both your dreads and your regular pillow may be the source of your discomfort. Consider opting for a thinner cushion or forgo one altogether while driving your hair out of the way per while sleeping.

Consider Going Dread Hawk

A more extreme — but often highly effective — solution to your “sleeping with dreadlocks” problems is to consider cutting off your side dreadlocks to create dread hawks.

Dread hawks can be the ideal answer for side sleepers, as this iteration of the dreadlocks hairstyle frees up the sides of your head, letting you rest more easily. Furthermore, shifting to a dread hawk can bring other random advantages. This includes reducing dreadlock-drying time due to enhanced airflow and upgraded comfort from having a fewer load on your head.

With fewer dreads to deal with, the odds are that you will also have lower maintenance expenses. However, one possible downside to sporting a dread hawk is that loose hairs become more obvious.

What to Do in the Morning

Your nighttime sleep habit doesn’t end when you wake up. When you are getting lighted for your day, taking care of your locks is essential for longevity, and keeping them looking clean.

  • Pull out any lint or random fuzz. Even if you consumed an hour last night hand-picking every piece of dust from your bed, you will miss a few. And these rogue fuzzballs will have surely ended up building a home in your locks. To keep your hair look fresh and clean, you should eliminate debris as soon as you see it. Letting it linger will result in the fibers becoming implanted into your lock, which just isn’t a good look.
  • Run your fingers through them. Tangles are forever a pain, but they’re a little more difficult when your head is locked up. Loose hairs can be whisked, but detangling dreadlocks that have grown intertwined is time-consuming, frustrating, and can break the locks. Avoid long-term harm by moving your fingers through your hair each morning to ensure every strand is still an individual.
  • Palm roll. After a night of sleeping straight on your dreads, waking up with loose hairs is required, particularly with fresh locks. The most beneficial thing that you should do is take the strand at the base and firmly roll flyaways between your palms into the loc. This process also helps to contract and tighten the locks.

What to Avoid

As you get adapted to your dreads, you’ll be able to figure out how to take care of them and still get good sleep. But, even when your dreads have aged, there are still several things you want to stay away from.

  • Tight nightcaps. At first, it may seem like holding your dread tight and close to your head will encourage them to look the same when you wake up. Unfortunately, tight caps can lead to hair breakage.
  • Sleeping with wet locks. As much as possible, try to wash your hair early in the day or blow-dry your locks before bed. Sleeping on them while wet can make them flat, which is probably not the appearance you’re going for. Even worse, trapped water can lead to the growth of mildew.
  • Leave-in conditioner for new lock. Be sure to do your research on your leave-in conditioner if your lock is fresh. Some leave-ins can work too strongly and make the dreads unravel.
  • Wax. While wax might seem like a great idea to make your hair behave, the build-up from leftover wax can be very obvious.

Final Thoughts

Dreadlocks are a hairstyle that requires more dedication and care than most. This fact is particularly apparent during sleep.

Going to bed with dreadlocks, and without practicing the proper protective measure, can leave your locks susceptible to various sorts of damage. This includes friz, dryness, breakage, and itchiness.

When you go to sleep, keep in mind that the tips and product recommendations listed above can help you to figure out the best way to have comfortable sleep and healthy dreads.

Get the right fix if you are suffering from any of these?