Sleep on silk for healthier hair

I’ve started to wear a silk night cap when I sleep in pursuit of healthier hair. It’s comfortable and doesn’t disturb my rest, though it does look a little goofy. It seems to work to prevent tangling and perhaps also pulling and damage to my fragile locks.

Silk sleep bonnet - 3I have had more good hair days since I started sleeping in a coif.

Systemic illness affected my coiffure

One of the side effects of autoimmune disease is a little trivial, but a lot disheartening to sufferers. Autoimmune disorders can affect your hair. Breakage, hair loss, even premature graying can result from this type of systemic illness.

Hair loss can be a terrible blow to self esteem at the same time that physical pain is eating away at one’s psyche.

In my case, I felt compelled to cut off my long hair to an above-chin-length bob about 18 months into my tentative diagnosis with an autoimmune disease.

Aside from losing far more hair than usual (overall thinning of my already very fine hair), what remained became positively bedraggled and ragged at the ends. It was breaking off as well as falling out.

Comb with hair - 1While I was waiting with my son in a barbershop, the stylist asked me if something had “happened” to my hair, and would I like her to try to fix it? This was a traditional barber shop that only deals with short (men’s) hairstyles.

I cut it most of it off shortly *ahem* thereafter. It looked so bad that a professional tried to do me an act of kindness out of pity as I went about my daily life. Talk about your bad hair days!

My health overall has improved since that initial period. Perhaps the precipitating event just ended. Maybe my medications are working. The dietary changes I implemented could have eased some of it.

There’s very little medical certainty about my health status.

My hair, on the other hand, has grown back to shoulder length. I’m taking more care with it. If it looks sickly again, I will cut it again. Having a sick head of hair made me feel more like an invalid.

If it gets bad enough, I will shave my head bald and consider wearing a wig before I walk around crowned with scraggly frizzles. I sincerely hope it doesn’t get to that point!

Most of us are aware of the fact that there are myriad fancy shampoos and other products to apply to hair and scalp, but today I’ll introduce one of my less mainstream solutions to the Sick Hair Problem.

Silk is one solution to prevent damaged hair

This Highdeer Silk Sleep Cap for Women ($12-16, depending upon style and color selected) is a silk bonnet designed to be worn to bed. It is meant to protect delicate hair from friction and pulling that can cause damage.

Silk sleep bonnet - 1

I bought my bonnet on and paid $11 in April of 2018. Though sold as “Rubber Red” in color, my interpretation would be “warm-toned pink.” It is, in fact, somewhat similar to the pink color of a classic hot water bottle or a pencil eraser, so perhaps that is the natural color of rubber.

I still say red is a stretch, but might concede to salmon.

The bonnet is an alternative to a silk pillowcase. I’ve tried those, too, but there are a few reasons I think a night cap is a better silk solution to try first.

  1. Silk pillowcases are prone to slipping off the bed and onto the floor. Silk is very smooth; that’s why it protects your hair from rubbing, friction, and damage. The same slick surface can be an annoyance if you lose your pillow while you sleep.
  2. Laundry can be a factor. Un-lined silk items can be washed at home, often even in a machine, but they do require a gentle cycle. I prefer to keep my bedding “easy care”* so I can accept help with bed making and laundering of the sheets without providing an excess of instructions or fearing for my delicates.
  3. Silk costs more than cotton. I buy my silk pillowcases from the DIY/artisan’s supply company, Dharma Trading Co., where I buy bulk quantities of scarves and other items to dye and paint as a hobby, but one wholesale pillowcase still costs more there ($17.15) than one bonnet from Amazon. Many people who like a neatly matched and made bed will need to purchase these in sets, as well, to suit their aesthetic.
Pillow on carpet - 1

Cotton pillowcases slide off of silk bedding, landing your pillow on the dirty floor


If your hair is damaged, consider sleeping on silk to protect it from further injury. Contrary to all the misleading advertising for expensive conditioners, there is nothing you can do to repair a damaged strand, but you can take steps to keep the same thing from happening again. Silk is one such luxurious solution.

Experience of bed in a bonnet

Going to bed in a bonnet presents no major challenges beyond the reduction in one’s sex appeal, but I’ll try to share some specifics of what it’s like to sleep in one.

My nightcap has a pair of fairly long strings hanging down from either side of the nape of the neck. With no instructions available as the the correct way to don this chapeau, I’ve taken to crossing them behind my head, bringing the two ends around to my crown, then tying a small bow right above my forehead.

There’s just enough ribbon for this method of tying.

Silk sleep bonnet - 1 (1)

I’m not sleeping on a lumpy knot, and the bow often stays put all night, though not always. It does stay tied even when it shifts position.

Most importantly, does the bonnet itself remain firmly on my head? I have straight, fine, slippery hair; even grippy headbands slide off during the day, while I’m awake, without pillow friction.

My nightcap doesn’t have a 100% success rate for staying put, but it is still in place more mornings than not.

It is far more rare for the knotted strings to do the same from bedtime until dawn, but they don’t seem to yank the coif itself off. If the cap has fallen off, it often remains between my hair and the pillow, and the delicate silk doesn’t make an uncomfortable lump, either. And none of this wakes me up!

I think it is fair to describe the silk bonnet as reasonably easy to keep on overnight, even for those of us with slippery heads.

I can barely keep a silk scarf on my head when I’m wide awake and willing to adjust it often. Attempts in the past to sleep with one wrapped around my hair were laughably unsuccessful. No pirate dress up for me! Arrh!

This coif works much better for its purpose than a simple scarf.

Silk sleep bonnet - 3The cap’s design is clever in that no elastic crosses the front where silk touches forehead. Elastic can be irritating, but there’s none here to trigger redness or bumps on a sensitive face.

My one slight discomfort with the bonnet does relate to the elastic which encircles the back of the head. It begins just about where my ears are, and I sometimes feel the need to shift the hat a bit forward or back when sleeping on my side. The ear pressed between pillow and elastic can be offended by the elastic in that position.

Remember, I have very sensitive skin including a latex allergy, so this issue may not apply to everyone. And, in spite of this occasional happening, it is rare enough that I wear the cap more often than not, usually without incident.

Finally, I want to comment on how “not too hot” wearing a silk coif to bed can be. I like to sleep in a cool to cold room under warm covers. Due to my husband’s differing preferences, our bedroom is often a bit too warm for me. I worried that wearing a nightcap would render me uncomfortably hot.

I suffer from insomnia already. I did not intend to invite new sleep disturbances!

Happily, in a warm stretch of late spring, the thin silk of my bonnet has been comfortable on all but one night that I’ve worn it thus far.

I read yesterday that this was the hottest May on record for most of the USA, and our central air is out of commission until we reroute some ductwork. This was a solid test of how the coif affected my sleep because our room has often been 5-10°F above my comfort zone during this stretch.

I’d advise even those who sleep warm that this particular nightcap is still worth trying. You’ll want to take that with a larger grain of salt if you run really, really hot or live in the tropics. It won’t make you cooler, obviously, but neither will this head covering raise your temperature much, if at all.

Photos for this post show my bonnet after at least a few gentle machine washes in a Miele washer.

I’m putting my cap in the wash once a week when I do a load of delicates. Sleeping with the silk touching my face around much of its perimeter (i.e., most of my hair line) has not triggered any skin rash or other breakouts.

Don’t forget to wash your bonnet to preserve your clear skin.

Mine has always been air dried. Washed in the morning, it has always been ready to wear by bedtime.

Pardon me for the wrinkles, but, no, not even for my loyal readers will I be ironing a nightcap. If you demand a starched bonnet, you’ll need to touch this one up—strings in particular—with an iron for perfection.

Most disappointing news of all for readers who’ve made it this far: I’m not posting a selfie of myself in a pink silk bonnet. The internet offers amusements enough without that. That sight is for my family’s own private amusement.

Sleep sweetly, perhaps on silk, and may your coiffure remain, always, your crowning glory!

*Easy care in modern housewares vernacular usually means chemical coatings or a fabric blend containing polyester fibers to reduce wrinkling. My definition is different: bedding that can be washed and dried by machine without worrying about it. Wrinkled sheets don’t bother me; airless ones do.

All of my sheets and comforter covers are made of cotton, flax linen, or hemp fibers. Comforters are filled with silk or wool, though we still have some down filled duvets from before I discovered which protein fibers I like better.

We do have one silk fitted sheet for the child with eczema. It really does help prevent his worst itchiness and reduce the damaging scratching he does to his own skin while he sleeps. It’s worth extra care for that purpose, but I’m the only member of the household who launders the silks.

Here’s an older post that includes some discussion of laundry care in a many-membered household and the mending tasks often required when we’ve let others help.

Maybe only the paranoid and I will worry about this, but I also have yet to wake up with bonnet strings wrapped around my neck, strangling me. I was somewhat concerned about that, but it hasn’t been an issue.

2 thoughts on “Sleep on silk for healthier hair

  1. It reminds me of Little House on the Prairie when they wore bonnets to bed to stay warm. Great solution to protecting your hair! As we get older thinning hair happens to most of us and I think genetics plays a huge role. Even though I don’t comment often I’ve been reading most of your emails. Keep up the writing. I thoroughly enjoy it!

    • Covering the head has been important throughout much of history. It’s amazing how much modern central heating has impacted modern life, I think.

      Thanks for reading. It’s always nice to get comments, and especially so to hear from you. 🙂

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