Will Tying My Hair Up to Go to Sleep Cause Hair Loss?'

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Question: At night I wear my hair in a ponytail to go to sleep but my friend told me this is bad and can damage my hair. Is that true? What will it do to my hair? I'm 23 and my hair is shoulder length and fine but it's quite healthy. What would you say is the best way to wear your hair at night?

Answer: Hi, Annie. It is fine to tie your hair back overnight to keep it out of the way while you sleep, but some ways of doing this are definitely kinder to your hair than others.

Is it OK to sleep with your hair tied up?If you want to keep it tied up, use a gentle fabric tie - a scrunchie is ideal - and secure your hair into a low, loose pony tail. If you sleep on your side, try to tie it above your nape, off-centre away from the side that you sleep on. You can also hook the end of your ponytail back through to form a loop if you want to keep it off your neck, as long as you still ensure it is not tied tightly.

When you frequently tie your hair up too tightly for long periods of time you can cause two different types of problems.

Hair breakage, where the hair snaps along the shaft due to damage, leaving behind split ends which appear frizzy and brittle and can make the hair look thin, can occur where a harsh tie - such as a hair elastic or rubber band - is used and secured too tightly. This can generally be remedied with some TLC in the form of a good haircut, some intensive conditioning treatments and by avoiding doing this in future.

More troublesome is the hair loss condition which can be caused by doing this, especially if you wear your hair in a high ponytail or bun. Traction Alopecia occurs when the hair follicles become damaged by the tension placed on them due to over-wearing tight and/or heavy hairstyles including ponytails, buns and hair extensions. It generally leads to localised thinning and breakage around the areas where the style was fixed as well as receding around the hairline as this is where the brunt of the tension is borne.

Although treatment for traction alopecia is available, this type of hair loss is completely avoidable by taking sensible precautions such as not wearing these styles often and always allowing your hair to rest for a day or two in between if you do. Additionally, maintaining a sensible, balanced diet full of the relevant nutrients or topping up with a dedicated supplement such as Hair Vitalics can also help as a protective measure.

An alternative to tying your hair back at night is to sleep wearing a silk cap or with your hair wrapped in a silk scarf. This is a common practice among women with afro hair, which is naturally more brittle than European and Asian hair types, as it is said to reduce static and be gentler on the hair. It is an adaption of another much-touted beauty secret - sleeping on a silk pillow - which, due to its fine weave allowing skin and hair to glide across it, is said to not only be good for your hair but to prevent wrinkles too.

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