Curls are awesome. We love how they look, we are proud of them, and still, there is the one question every curly person asks themselves at some point:

How do I sleep without messing up my curls?

Especially if you follow the curly girl method, washing and defining your curls is quite some work. A labor of love, of course, but still quite some work.

So who can blame us for not wanting to do that every morning? Wouldn’t it be so nice if we could preserve our curls overnight?

As this really is a quite common question, there are quite a few methods you can try. Some are super easy, some might take a little more time. But all of them will help you get a good night’s sleep without ruining your curls!

Related: Camping hair: tips for the right hair care while camping

Disclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

1. Pineappling

The best-known method to sleep on your curls is to simply “pineapple” your hair before bed. The method gets its name from the characteristic shape that reminds, well, of a pineapple.

Image of a woman with the pineapple hairdo, the most popular way to sleep with curls

How to pineapple curly hair for bed

If your hair isn’t to long yet, you can do pineappling quite easy. Simply pull together your hair on top of your head, right in the middle, and tie it together with a spiral hair tie. (In case you don’t have those yet, get some here!*)

The spiral hair tie avoids any drinks and creases that normal hair ties leave.

Benefits of pineappling hair

The biggest benefit of pineappling is that your curls are out of the way during the night. Because of the position of your “pineapple” right on top of your head, you won’t lay on your hair. This way you avoid destroying your curls by squeezing them between your body and the mattress.

Pineappling for longer hair

If your hair is already so long that you rather have a palm tree than a pineapple on your head, this method will lose the biggest benefits it offers.

In that case, you could either transform your pineapple-ponytail into a messy bun by securing your curls with another hair tie. Or you could opt for any of these methods to pineapple curly hair for bed, which are hair lenght-independent.

2. The Hair stick bun

As my hair is too long to get a safe hair-tie bun, my favorite sleep bun for curls utilizes a hair stick. I like it because it works on every length of hair and is a super hair-friendly way of bunning your hair for sleep.

To be able to sleep with the bun and keep my curls, I make a bun very similar to the one in the video below. The only differences are the following:

  1. I make it much looser to not “squeeze out” the curls
  2. The bun should be on top of your head, not behind it, so that it’s not in your way during sleep.
  3. I don’t tuck in the ends, but let them hang out to preserve their curly structure.

3. The Overnight plopping

In my guide to the curly girl method, I already described how to help shape your curls when drying them through a method called “plopping”.

To plop your hair, you put a piece of fabric, like a t-shirt, on a flat surface, bend over it and gather your hair in the middle of it.

Then you keep bringing your head closer to the fabric so that your curls can “fold” in. Once your head touches the fabric, you wrap the fabric around your head to keep everything in place.

To sleep on your curls without ruining them, you can use exactly this method. Simply scrunch a little hair gel into your strands (find curly girl-approved hair gels here!) and otherwise proceed as described above.

See if you can find a light cotton T-shirt for this, as a microfibre towel might be too warm for sleeping, and also slips off more easily.

4. The Slap or Bonnet

Image of a woman wearing a satin lined cap

SLAPs or bonnets are another super popular way to preserve your curls during the night. I personally prefer the SLAP (get one here*!), as I like the look much better, but they both will work the same way.

Whichever silk or satin headwear you choose, they both will protect your curls in two ways:

  1. The smoothness of the material minimizes the friction your hair has to endure. This, in turn, reduces frizz and avoids destroying your curls in your sleep.
  2. You can perfectly use both a Slap or a Bonnet for plopping your hair. Just make sure you have enough room in there in case your hair is a little longer already.

5. The Hair Pin Art

If you have quite some time and patience, you can also do the “pin method” to preserve your curls. This can give you amazing results, as it not only preserves your curls but can even reinforce them. But… you really need some time for this one!

It also only really works for the bigger curls of hair type 3.

The way this works is that you take each curl separately, roll it up according to its specific curl size and then pin it to your head to keep it in place there.

This video shows a very similar technique: (just ignore the heat styling etc)

If you want, you can scrunch in some gel before. Once you curled up all your hair like this, pull a Slap, Bonnet or other sleek headwear over it.

Pay attention to where you pin the curls, too, as you’ll still have to sleep on this. Don’t want to be stabbed by a pin all night long!

In the morning, take out all the pins and carefully shake out the curls. They should look super defined!

6. The Headband

People with straight hair sometimes sleep in a headband for curls. If you are not too attached to the exact natural shape of your curls, you can use this method, too!

Simply get a hair-friendly headband (bonus points for satin or silk!), put it on before going to bed and wrap your hair around it, strand by strand. See the image below for a visual guide on how to do it.

For better results, slightly dampen your hair or graze it with some hair gel before.

If your hair is long and/or thick, you do NOT want to do this on wet hair. It will not completely dry till the morning, leaving you with less than stellar results.

7. The Braid

Image of a simple 3-strand-braid on brunette hair

Putting your hair in a braid before bed can be another way to preserve your curls overnight. For this to work, you need to have a “strong” curl structure, so it’s best for hair types 3c and up.

Related: Your ultimate guide to the 4 hair types

Simply make a classic 3-strand-braid before going to sleep. Pay attention to not make it too tight, as this will rather have a crimping effect and might disturb your natural curl pattern.

Also, think about the positioning of the braid. Depending on how you sleep, you might want to start braiding on top of your head, so that your hair won’t be in your way while sleeping. Basically like a top knot, just in this case, it’s a top braid. (I guess. What a weird word.)

For some people, this doesn’t matter, but I personally cannot sleep on my hair. It needs to be out of the way! Simply try what works for you.

What’s your favorite way to sleep with curls?

Let me know in the comments and make sure to share this with a friend!

Looking for better ways to sleep with curly hair? These tips will help you preserve your awesome curls throughout the night!

*These links are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.