How to Sleep Soundly with Your Fresh Tattoo

Many people seem to have gotten the idea that the best time to get a tattoo is in the summer. While summer is undoubtedly an excellent time to show off your ink, it also poses a unique set of challenges when it comes to caring for your tattoo. For example, sleeping with a new tattoo can be challenging, as your tattoo may stick to your sheets, get scratched, or get dried out due to air conditioning. In this article, we will explain the best ways to sleep with your fresh tattoo, so you don’t have to worry about any discomfort or damage.

1. Choose a Comfortable Sleeping Position

Sleeping position is of utmost importance when you have a new tattoo. You don’t want to sleep in a way that will rub or irritate your tattoo. It is essential to try to avoid putting too much pressure on your new tattoo while you sleep. The best position to sleep in is on your back. This position will keep your tattoo from rubbing against anything and will allow air to reach the area better. However, if sleeping on your back is uncomfortable, you can try sleeping on your side. Ensure that your tattoo is not rubbing against your sheets or blankets.

1.1 Use Pillows to Elevate Your Tattoo

If sleeping on your back isn’t comfortable, you can try using pillows to raise the body part with the tattoo. For instance, if you have a new tattoo on your arm or leg, lay on your back, and prop up the affected area with pillows to reduce the pressure. By elevating the tattooed area, the blood will flow to it freely, and there’ll be better circulation, which could help it heal faster.

2. Avoid Tight Clothes

Wearing tight clothes can cause friction against your tattoo, which may lead to the ink and the scab falling off too early. Wearing clothes made of synthetic fabrics or tight-fitting fabrics may also keep the area from getting enough air, which could cause irritation or infection. Hence, it’s best to wear loose-fitting clothes that breathe well, like cotton, during the healing period.

3. Always Keep Your Tattoo Moisturized

It’s essential to keep your tattoo moisturized to prevent the scabs from cracking, which may lead to cracking of the ink. After washing, gently pat the tattoo dry and apply a layer of petroleum jelly. Don’t wear tight or irritating clothes over the tattooed area, and avoid any kind of adhesive bandages on it. The bandages can get stuck on the tattoo, cause friction, and rip off the scabs as it is removed. Furthermore, don’t use any lotions or creams that might contain fragrances, chemicals, or dyes that can irritate the area.

3.1 Use an Unscented, Plain Moisturizer

Choose a plain, unscented lotion or cream for your tattoo – one that is designed for sensitive skin. This will avoid any allergic reactions or issues with scabbing over the tattoo that can cause pain or slow the healing process. Additionally, it’s essential to avoid exposing the area to the sun or exposing it to any kind of heat sources, like saunas or hot baths.

3.2 Clean Your Tattoo Before Applying Moisturizer

Clean your tattoo gently with warm water and soap before putting moisturizer on it. Pat the area dry with a soft cloth and let it air dry for around thirty minutes to an hour to make sure that it is entirely dry before applying moisturizer. After it has dried, apply a thin layer of moisturizer to the affected area, taking care not to rub it in too hard.

4. Keep Your Tattoo Clean

One of the most crucial aspects of taking care of your new tattoo is ensuring that it’s always clean. The bacteria present on dirty towels or sheets could lead to infection. This is why you should wash your tattoo at least twice daily with warm water and mild liquid soap, avoiding anything that could itch or scratch the area. It’s important to avoid using high-pressure water, as well, as it can cause discomfort and irritation.

4.1 Use a Mild Soap

Use a gentle, unscented liquid soap to clean your tattoo. Antibacterial soaps are not necessary as they might contain harsh chemicals that could irritate your skin or cause allergies. Instead, you can use a mild soap that will wipe away germs and oil buildup without harming your tattoo or causing any discomfort.

4.2 Pat Your Tattoo Dry

After cleaning your tattoo, it’s essential to dry it thoroughly. Pat the area dry with a clean towel, and avoid using the same towel twice to avoid bacteria buildup.

5. Sleep on Clean Sheets

You should always make sure that your sheets and blankets are clean before sleeping on them, especially if you have a new tattoo. Dirty linens can harbor harmful bacteria and might lead to infection or slow down the healing process. Also, if you sleep on dirty or rough sheets, you might irritate the area and cause discomfort or itchiness. Hence, it’s important to avoid washing your sheets with detergent that is heavily fragranced or has chemicals that could irritate your skin.

5.1 Launder Your Sheets in Hot Water

To ensure that your linens are free of bacteria, launder them in hot water with a mild detergent. Avoid using fabric softener or bleach, as these can irritate your skin or ruin your tattoo. It’s also advisable to tumble dry your linens on a low setting.

5.2 Change Your Sheets Frequently

During the first few weeks of the healing process, you should change your sheets weekly. Later, you can change them bi-weekly, depending on how comfortable you feel with the tattoo. This way, you’ll keep the area free of germs and bacteria and speed up the healing process.

6. What to Avoid While Sleeping with a Tattoo

There are certain things that you should avoid while sleeping with your fresh tattoo, including:

  • Avoid sleeping with pets
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing to bed
  • Avoid sleeping on your face
  • Avoid sleeping in places with strong air conditioning systems
  • Avoid exposing your tattoo to direct sunlight or heat
  • Avoid using hot water sprays

6.1 Avoid Sleeping with Pets

Pets can be pretty rough at times, and they can accidentally scratch or scrape your tattoo while sleeping. It’s better to keep them away from your fresh ink, at least until it’s fully healed.

6.2 Avoid Wearing Tight Clothing to Bed

Tight clothes can cause friction and irritation to the tattooed area, leading to slow healing or itching. Hence, it’s important to avoid wearing tight clothes or synthetic fabrics to bed, as it might cause more harm than good.

6.3 Avoid Sleeping on Your Face

Sleeping on your face may cause your tattoo to stick to your pillow, which might lead to scabbing or itchiness. It’s best to avoid sleeping on your face while your tattoo is still healing.


Getting a new tattoo can be a wonderful experience, but the healing process takes time and patience. Learning how to sleep with your new tattoo will ensure that you heal quickly and comfortably. Keep your tattoo clean, moisturized and avoid exposing it to the sun, heat and tight-fitting clothes. Elevate the area with pillows if necessary and try to sleep on your back, if possible. Follow these tips, and you will be on your way to enjoy your new tattoo for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Q. How long do you have to wait to sleep on a tattoo?
  • Q. What should I wear to sleep with a new tattoo?
  • Q. How do I sleep with a fresh tattoo on my back?
  • Q. Can you sleep with a fresh tattoo on a pillow?
  • Q. Can I put a bandage on my new tattoo while sleeping?

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q. How long do you have to wait to sleep on a tattoo?

    A. You should wait at least two to three hours after getting your tattoo before sleeping.
  • Q. What should I wear to sleep with a new tattoo?

    A. You should wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes to bed when you have a new tattoo.
  • Q. How do I sleep with a fresh tattoo on my back?

    A. Try to sleep on your back if possible, with pillows supporting the area if needed.
  • Q. Can you sleep with a fresh tattoo on a pillow?

    A. You can sleep with a fresh tattoo on a pillow, but remember to use a fresh, clean pillowcase to avoid infection.
  • Q. Can I put a bandage on my new tattoo while sleeping?

    A. It is not advisable to put a bandage on a new tattoo while sleeping as it might cause moisture buildup, block airflow, and cause infection.


  • Bondi, E. (2017). Tattoo care: How to sleep with a new tattoo. Authority Tattoo.
  • Glaton, V. (2019). How to sleep with a fresh tattoo, according to dermatologists. NBC News.
  • NHS.UK. (2018). Looking after a tattoo.

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