sleep

Image: Getty

I’ll be honest. I used to be the kind of woman who would wash her face, brush her teeth and hit the pillow without giving much thought to my hair. No scarf. No protective styling. Nothing.

Depending on how rough I slept throughout the night (which is something you can never really know until you wake up the next day), sometimes it was no big deal. But then there were times when either my hair was a matted mess or it felt drier than it did the previous day. You know what that means, right? I woke up to extra combing (damage) or brittle hair (also damage).

Back when I was wearing my hair super-short, it didn’t bother me too much. But now that I’m in the process of growing my hair out, I know that what I do at night for my curly locks is just as important as what I do during the day.

So, what about you? What kind of nighttime routine is your curly hair apart of? If you’re staring at your computer screen with a blank look on your face, no worries. Here some quick and easy ways to care for your curls while you sleep.

Take a steamy shower. If your curls happen to be color-treated, one of the best things that you can do for them before heading to bed is to steam them up a bit. It’s a quick way to give your locks the moisture that they need so that your curls appear soft and smooth on a daily basis. One of the easiest ways to steam your hair is to take a hot shower before turning in. Just make sure to stay in the shower for no less than 15 and no more than 20 minutes. That will give your cuticles enough time to lift so that they can absorb all of the moisture that they need.

Leave water out. Put oil in. Unless you’re planning to apply heat to your hair (which can ultimately lead to heat damage), it’s best not to wash your hair within three hours of going to sleep. The reason why is because your hair is going to need at least that much time to air dry; if it doesn’t complete dry, you’ll wake up to a matted mess. Rubbing some coconut, olive, avocado or grapeseed oil through your hair strands before turning in is a much better bet. That way, your hair will have all night long to absorb the oil’s nutrients and it will actually help to prevent your hair from tangling up.

Try braids, pin curls or bantu knots. Is one of your biggest issues when you wake up in the morning is that your curls are either caught up in tangles or that they look a little…flat? One way to avoid that without putting too much stress or strain on your hair is to braid your hair or put them up into pin curls or bantu knots. Not only will these techniques preserve your curls, they will also keep the ends of your hair intact too.

Image:@tacha.j

Put it into a pineapple. If you’re in a new relationship and you want to “sleep cute” or you’re too beat to do what I just suggested, another option is to put your loose hair up into a pineapple. It’s cute and will still preserve your curls throughout the night. (If you want some tips on how to make a pineapple, click here.)

Use a silk scarf or satin pillowcase (or both). No matter what you decide to do with your curls, make sure that your head doesn’t hit your pillow without it having a silk scarf on it. No doubt about it, cotton helps your body to breathe (which is a good thing); at the same time, it also absorbs moisture which is really bad for your hair. So, if you’ve got cotton bedding, “counter that” with a silk scarf—or, at the very least, a satin pillowcase.

Drink a cup of herbal tea. One more tip. Nothing soothes the mind, body and spirit quite like a hot cup of herbal tea does. Not only will it relax your nervous system, it will also nourish your hair as well. Teas that top the hair care list include lavender (strengthens roots), elderberry (soothes irritated scalp), chamomile (moisturizes dry hair), peppermint (repairs damaged hair) and green tea (fights dandruff). Drink up and sweet dreams!

And before you go to sleep, check out these styles for keeping your curls protected!