Sleeping in Braids: A Step-by-Step Guide To Protect Braided Hair

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase.

Sleeping with braids is a popular hair care practice that can help protect your hair or help you create beautiful waves or curls to enjoy when you wake up.

However, for those new to braiding or who have never slept with braids, it can be challenging to figure out the best way to do so comfortably without damaging your locks.

African american woman lying on bed sleeping at bedroom

That’s where we come in!

This article will provide a step-by-step guide on how to sleep with braids, including different braiding techniques and tips for maintaining and protecting your braids overnight.

At the end of this article, you’ll learn whether sleeping in braids may be a good hair care practice for you.

What Are Braids?

Braids are a hairstyle created by weaving or twisting sections of hair together to form a patterned design.

Braids can be simple or complex, with different thicknesses, textures, and design variations.

They can be made using just a few or many hair strands which can be styled in various ways, including cornrows, French braids, Dutch braids, fishtail braids, and more.

Braids have been used as a hairstyle for centuries in many different cultures and continue to be popular for their practicality, versatility, and aesthetic appeal.

Different Types of Braids

As mentioned, there are many different types of braids, with variations in thickness, texture, and design. 

In this article, we’ll focus on five of the most popular braid styles.

Pigtails / Loose Braid

Pigtails are a hairstyle where the hair is divided into two sections and then tied into two bunches, one on each side of the head.

The term “pigtail” is believed to have originated from the way the twisted hair resembles a pig’s curly tail.

Pigtails can be worn by people of all ages and are popular with both children and adults.

They can be styled in various ways, such as twisted or tied with a ribbon or elastic band.

Loose braids are a popular pigtail choice for a cute and casual look.

French Braid

A French braid, also known as a “French plait,” is a type of braid where sections of hair are continuously added to a central braid as it is woven until the ends of the hair.

The braid starts at the crown of the head and continues down to the nape of the neck, incorporating more hair into the braid as it progresses, creating a raised, 3D effect on the hair.

Dutch Braid

A Dutch braid, also known as an “inverted French braid,” is a type of braid where the sections of hair are braided under, rather than over, the central braid.

Like a French braid, a Dutch braid starts at the crown of the head and is woven down to the ends of the strands, incorporating more hair into the braid as it progresses.

It also creates a similar raised, 3D effect but has a more subtle, inverted appearance than French braids.

Box Braids

Box braids are a protective hairstyle that involves sectioning the hair into small, square-shaped sections and then braiding each section from the roots to the ends.

It can be created with or without extensions and styled in various ways.

Box braids can be worn for several weeks or even months, depending on how well they are maintained.

You can also style box braids in various ways, including updos, half-up styles, and ponytails.

Cornrow Braids

Cornrow braids are a traditional African braiding style that involves braiding the hair very close to the scalp in a series of straight lines.

The braids are usually created with natural hair but can also be done with the addition of extensions.

Can You Sleep in Braids?

You may be wondering if you can sleep in braids and if sleeping in braids is good or bad for your hair.

The answer to the first question is — yes, you absolutely can. As for the answer to the second, the answer is a bit more complicated and depends on how you do it.

So, let’s look closer at sleeping in braids.

Sleeping in braids is a common hair care practice for many people as it helps protect your hair from damage.

You can also sleep in braids to help create beautiful waves or curls you can enjoy the next day when you wake up.

However, it’s essential to be mindful of the type of braids you choose to sleep in and how you style them before going to bed.

Remember that tight or heavy braids can cause tension on your scalp and hair, leading to breakage or discomfort.

Additionally, braids can become frizzy or lose their shape overnight if you’re not careful.

To avoid these issues, it’s important to choose a comfortable braiding style, use a protective hair wrap or silk scarf, and follow proper maintenance techniques to keep your braids in good condition while you sleep.

Benefits of Sleeping in Braids

Sleeping in braids can offer many benefits. However, you must know how to do it properly to reap these benefits.

Before we look closely at how you can safely sleep in braids, let’s first look at the benefits:

Reduced Breakage

Sleeping in braids can help prevent tangles and knots, which can cause breakage and split ends.

Braids can also help distribute the natural oils produced by the scalp evenly along the length of the hair, which can help keep hair moisturized and less prone to breakage.

Prevents Damage

Sleeping with braids can cause tangles, frizz, and breakage.

Fortunately, you can help prevent these issues and minimize the risk of damage to your hair if you know how to properly secure your braids while you sleep.

Maintains Hairstyle

Sleeping with improperly secured braids can cause your hairstyle to become undone or messy.

Properly securing your braids can help maintain your hairstyle and keep it looking fresh.

Saves Time

Protecting your hair while sleeping in braids can save you time in the morning because you won’t have to spend as much time fixing tangles or redoing your hair.

Promotes Healthy Hair

Alongside preventing damage and maintaining your hairstyle, knowing the right way to sleep with braids can promote overall hair health and growth.

Increases Longevity

By properly protecting your hair while sleeping in braids, you can increase the longevity of your hairstyle and prolong the time between salon visits.

Sleeping in Braids? Things To Keep in Mind

Now that you know the benefits of sleeping in braids, let’s look at how to do it correctly.

Here are some things to remember:

  • Use a hair-safe elastic or hair tie to secure your braids. Avoid using rubber bands or elastic bands with metal parts that can snag and damage hair. Instead, use a gentle hair tie, such as a scrunchie or a soft elastic.
  • Avoid tight braids since they can cause tension on the scalp and lead to discomfort or even hair loss. Ensure braids are not too tight and do not pull on the hair.
  • A silk or satin pillowcase helps prevent tangles and knots and minimize friction, which can cause breakage and damage to the hair.
  • Apply a leave-in conditioner or hair oil before braiding to help keep locks moisturized and less prone to breakage.
  • If you have a sensitive hairline, consider braiding your hair loosely and leaving the hairline free. Alternatively, you can use a soft headband or scarf to protect the hairline from tension and friction.

How To Sleep With French or Dutch Braids

If you want to achieve natural beach waves as soon as you wake up, sleeping with French or Dutch braids is for you.

To achieve this, you can use the scarf braid method, which is the most basic method of sleeping with braids:

  1. Get your scarf, fold it in half, and identify the middle.
  2. Take a piece of hair at the top of the head.
  3. Put the scarf underneath that hairpiece. Ensure it is placed in the middle of the scarf and has equal length on both sides.
  4. Now, you have three strands: the scarf on the left side (strand #1), your hair piece (strand #2), and the scarf on the right side (strand #3).
  5. Position these strands like you usually would if you had three hair pieces you would braid.
  6. Then, start adding hair to it, like French/Dutch braids.
  7. To begin, add a section of hair on the right side of the head directly to the scarf.
  8. Next, cross this part over the middle hair piece to secure the scarf into the hair.
  9. Do steps 6 to 8 on the left side of the head.
  10. Keep picking up hair pieces and crossing them over the middle until your hair is fully braided.
  11. Braid it down as far as it can go.
  12. Use an elastic to secure the braid, or use the ends of the scarf to wrap it around the hair and tie it off.
  13. You can now sleep with this scarf braid and expect beautiful wavy hair after removing it in the morning.

Here’s a video tutorial to help you visualize this method step-by-step:

How To Sleep With Box Braids

If you have long box braids, sleeping with them on can be tricky and challenging.

When your hair isn’t secured well, you may pull up and loosen your braids as you toss and turn throughout the night.

So, how do you sleep with box braids and not ruin them?

There are two methods of how to sleep with box braids and not ruin them.

These methods can also be used with the other types of braids mentioned above.

What You Need

Using the cross-over method can protect your braids while sleeping.

Plus, it keeps the braids in place and prevents them from getting tangled or damaged while you sleep.

You can use either a bonnet or a silk scarf with this method.

Cross-Over Method With Silk Bonnet

To do the cross-over method with a silk bonnet, follow these steps:

  1. Divide your braids into two sections and cross them over at the nape of your neck.
  2. Slightly twist the crossed hair and then bring them both to the front of your head.
  3. Use an elastic to tie the ends, holding them in place.
  4. Put your silk bonnet on, ensuring your braided hair is completely tucked inside the bonnet.

Cross-Over Method With Silk Scarf

If you want to use a silk scarf instead of a bonnet to secure your braided hair in place, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Repeat steps 1 to 3.
  2. Now, cover your hair with a large satin or silk scarf and wrap it over all of your hair.
  3. Keep wrapping and then tuck in the ends in the front of the scarf to secure, making sure all of your hair is covered.

Top Bun Method

The top bun method guarantees that all your braids fit underneath your bonnet or scarf. This method is ideal for those who have medium to long braids.

Moreover, it helps keep your braids in place and prevents them from getting tangled or damaged while you sleep.

To do the top bun method to protect your braids overnight, follow these steps:

What You Need

  • Silk bonnet/scarf
  • Soft hair tie/elastics
  • Bobby pins


  1. Gather your braids into a high ponytail and secure them with a soft hair tie.
  2. Twist the ponytail into a bun shape on top of your head and use bobby pins to secure it.
  3. Take a large square scarf and fold it into a triangle.
  4. Hold the scarf at the corners of the long side and place the middle of the scarf at the nape of your neck, with the two ends hanging over your shoulders.
  5. Tie the two ends of the scarf in a knot at the center of your forehead.
  6. Twist the two ends of the scarf together to create a rope-like shape.
  7. Wrap the twisted scarf around the bun, covering it completely.
  8. Tuck any loose ends of the scarf under the bun and adjust as necessary to ensure that the bun is comfortably secured and won’t slip during the night.

PRO TIP: Instead of a silk scarf, you can use a bonnet to cover your head.

Check out this video of covering your long braids with a bonnet or scarf:

How To Sleep With Cornrows

Sleeping with cornrows won’t be a problem if you have short braids. However, things can get a bit complicated when you have long cornrows.

Here’s how to sleep with long cornrows and short cornrows:

Short Cornrows

If your cornrows are short and don’t go over your neck, your can easily cover your head with a silk bonnet or wrap your hair with a silk or satin scarf.

Long Cornrows

Shoulder-length or longer cornrows require more preparation for a restful night of sleep.

Here’s a technique to help you wrap and secure your longer cornrows.

What You Need


  1. Put the silk durag on top of your head and tuck it behind your ear.
  2. Make sure that the rectangular end of the durag covers the back of your head.
  3. Wrap the two long ends of the durag around the back of your head.
  4. Cross them over each other, bring them back to the front of your head, and tie them in a knot.
  5. Place the silk scarf around your shoulders, leaving one side longer than the other.
  6. Tie both sides tight as if you’re tying the scarf in a ponytail.
  7. Grab that one hanging long piece of your silk scarf.
  8. Wrap all your cornrow braids with the long piece of scarf until they are fully covered.
  9. Once you reach the ends, use a hair elastic to secure the scarf.

Here’s a step-by-step video on how to properly do this method:

Frequently Asked Questions

How to wrap braids that are too tight?

If your braids are challenging to deal with, there’s a possibility that they are too tight. In this case, loosening them to sleep more comfortably is best.

Until you loosen them, you can wrap your hair with a scarf and leave the braids hanging down your back.

This helps protect your scalp and the edges of your hair without messing up your braids as you sleep.

Why is sleeping on silk or satin pillowcases highly recommended for braided hair?

Braid enthusiasts claim that sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase is the best way to protect your braids since pillowcases in these materials help reduce friction.

With reduced friction, you can keep your braids manageable and in good condition.

However, if the material of your bonnet or scarf is satin, you can use cotton pillowcases.

What are the cons of sleeping with tight braids?

It’s essential to ensure your braids aren’t too tight before sleeping with them.

Tight braids can cause irreplaceable damage to your hair because they put undue stress on your roots.

This tension can take a toll on your hair strands and scalp. As a result, your hair might break and shed prematurely.

Is sleeping in braids good for your hair?

This is a common question along with “Does sleeping in braids help hair grow?” 

Sleeping in braids, when done correctly, can be very good for your hair. 

Sleeping with your hair in braids helps reduce friction between your pillow and your hair to help minimize breakage. It also keeps your hair in place for fewer tangles in the morning.

As for hair growth, braids can’t directly make your hair grow, but it does help keep hair healthy, and healthy hair can grow better, 

Want To Manage Your Braided Hair? Sleeping in Braids Is Definitely Worth It!

Sleeping in braids has many benefits, from maintaining your hairdo to helping you achieve gorgeous curls and waves.

And now you know how to successfully sleep in braids without damaging your hair using our abovementioned methods.

Beautiful hispanic woman wearing casual clothes happy face smiling with crossed arms looking at the camera. positive person.

Braiding your hair properly, moisturizing your locks, and securing your braids with silk or satin scarves or bonnets help prevent frizz and damage while you sleep.

Following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article, you can ensure that your braids remain intact, neat, and well-maintained all night.

If you practice these methods before sleeping, you can enjoy a beautiful and manageable braided hairstyle for days or even weeks at a time.

An infographic featuring how to sleep in braids such as cornrows, top bun, french braids, and box braids

Want More Articles About Hair?

Check out these articles:


  • Stephanie Martin

    Stephanie Martin blends her beauty industry background with expertise in communications to lead in the fashion and beauty world. As a fashion and beauty editor, she is known for engaging and informative articles. Her lifelong passion for fashion, makeup, and hair shines through her work, earning her widespread respect among readers and clients. Stephanie's style, a mix of classic and contemporary, makes her a dynamic and influential figure in the industry, inspiring others with her knowledgeable and approachable insights.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *