How to Sleep With a New Tattoo

man with a tattoo and alarm clock

Your body is newly inked with the bloody and oozing masterpiece you and your tattoo artist came up with together. You want it to turn out as you planned, but you are concerned and confused about the best way to sleep with your new tattoo.

This list will inform you of everything you need to know to properly sleep with a new tattoo. You can improve your quality of sleep with your brand new ink and expedite the healing process by following these tips:

  1. Practice Healthy Bedtime Care
  2. Create a Suitable Bedroom Environment
  3. Healthy Sleep Habits Promote Healing

Practice Healthy Bedtime Care

Bedtime care for your tattoo is critical when it comes to the healing process and overall outcome of your body art. You should wrap your tattoo, and moisturize, to give it the best chance at avoiding a disfiguring infection. It might be tempting to fall into bed after your long day, but the bacteria and loss of sleep you will incur because of it aren’t worth the risk.

Use an Adhesive Wrap

Your tattoo artist might have sent you home with some adhesive wraps, while others may have left you to your own devices. You should always make sure your skin is completely dry before wrapping your tattoo for the evening, to prevent the formation of bacteria from the added moisture. Smaller tattoos can employ the use of a large bandaid to keep out bacteria, but the larger tattoos can be trickier to cover.

There are several products you can use to wrap tattoos and they include:

  • Adhesive Antibacterial Wrap
  • Gauze
  • Tattoo Film Bandage

It is recommended you wrap your tattoo for the first three days after its application to lock out dust and germs while you sleep. This also prevents your sheets and blankets from adhering to your tattoo during the night, which causes unwarranted pain and suffering.

If your tattoo does stick to your sheets, you shouldn’t rip them off like a band-aid, as this can cause irritation and pull the color from your newly inked skin. Instead, you should rinse the adhesion under warm water to loosen your skin’s hold on the fabric and gently pull them apart.

If you prefer the dry healing method you should wear loose-fitting clothing, because this minimizes the risk of your tattoo adhering to the fabric and allows the new ink room to breathe and sleep in peace. The clothes you choose should also be ones you are not afraid to ruin as they will become stained throughout the night.

It is heavily debated within the tattoo world whether or not the use of wraps at night is beneficial to the healing process of your tattoo, or if dry healing is the better option. It is generally a personal preference or you can discuss it with your tattoo artist to see what they recommend.

Moisturizing is Crucial

Moisturizing may not seem like a big deal as your new tattoo leaks liquids onto everything you own, but moisturizing keeps your skin supple and healthy as it works to heal from the wound. There are several tattoo-specific lotions you should consider using, but a non-specific lotion can work as well.

When picking a lotion, the bottle should identify these properties:

  • Unscented
  • Fragrance-Free
  • Antibacterial

If you’re looking for the Best Lotion for your new Tattoo, try the After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer & Aftercare Lotion from Amazon, I used it for my last tattoo and having nothing but good things to say about it. I recommend it to all my friends with Tattoos.

It is vital to use a moisturizer because at night your sheets and clothing can suck the water right out of your healing tattoo, leaving it swollen, itchy, and cracked. A moisturizer alleviates these symptoms as well as speeds up the healing process by destroying bacteria, which can improve your restfulness as the pain quickly subsides.

It is also important not to overuse or underuse a moisturizer because both can lead to issues with your tattoo’s healing process. You should add some moisturizer to your skin before wrapping it, but using too much can cause a rash to appear.

Overuse can also cause your skin to bubble, leading to disfiguration of the masterpiece you were so proud to show off to your friends. When you don’t use enough, your healing process can become delayed and it can lead to infection due to improper care.

Create a Suitable Bedroom Environment

Your bedroom is where you sleep, but it is also the place your tattoo does most of its healing. Creating an environment to promote the healing of your tattoo is crucial to it turning out exactly the way you planned, as well as increasing the amount of sleep you obtain each night.

Spare Sheets Are Necessary

It is recommended you use a spare set of sheets while sleeping with your new tattoo because no matter what set you use, they will get stained. It would be considered a crime to wake up to your 500 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets covered in a substantial amount of blood and fluid. By using your spare set, it will give you peace of mind and allow you to sleep without constantly waking over your concern for your morbidly expensive set of sheets.

If you don’t have a spare set you should still go out and purchase a cheap spare, or two, for your recovery. This will increase your chances of avoiding infection and decrease your sleep loss due to anxiety about possible stains. You can also place an old towel on your bed where your tattoo is prone to rubbing, as to prevent any excessive stains from occurring.

Your sheets should be rotated daily to prevent infection as it will minimize the amount of dust, dander, and bacteria on your sleeping surface. It decreases your risk of infection and increases your ability to get the rest you need.

Kick Fido off of the Bed

Your pet might sleep with you every night, curled against your side or in the crook of your arm, but after your new tattoo, it is best to avoid this unhealthy practice. Animals are bacteria machines, as they shed dander and dust wherever they go. These unhealthy particles can spread onto your bed, leading to the dreaded red haze, as well as a night disrupted by a constant itch.

Pets are also prone to licking wounds, and not just their own. They might think they are helping you, but it could actually lead to a bacteria-infested disaster. If your pet does happen to come into contact with your tattoo, you should wash it out immediately with an antibacterial solution.

Tattoo Wipes

Tattoo wipes are an antibacterial product used to safely clean tattoos. It is beneficial to keep these on your bedside table in case you find yourself needing them in the middle of the night. These can come in handy if happen to brush against your tattoo and feel you need to cleanse it.

The wipes promote sleep because it gives you one less reason to interrupt your rest because of your tattoo. These wipes can also soothe an irritated tattoo, allowing you to find the sleep that had previously evaded you.

Here are the Best Wipes I use to clean my new tattoos without worrying that I’ll damage the fresh ink. Check it out on Amazon, Wipe Outz Sterilized Tattoo Aftercare Wipes.

Healthy Sleep Habits Promote Healing

There are several methods to make sleep easier with a tattoo and certain sleep practices you should follow to promote healing. It is crucial to obtain at least eight hours of sleep for the first week after your tattoo’s application because this sets the tone for its path of healing. This is the deciding factor in whether or not it will heal correctly and it will also ensure it does not become a random blob of colors.

Sleeping Positions

You should always strive to prevent your tattoo from ever making contact with your mattress. It can cause the skin to adhere to the sheets, as well as obtain hordes of unwanted bacteria due to an increase in body heat. There are several sleeping positions you can try, based on the location of your tattoo, and some are more manageable than others.

It is up to the individual to decide what position is best for their recovery, but applying unnecessary pressure should be avoided at all cost, as it can starve your skin of oxygen and cause you to wake from the increase in pain.

These tips can make each sleeping position more comfortable and prevent tossing and turning:

  • Side Position: Placing a pillow between your knees can make sleeping more comfortable as it reduces stress on your hips and spine. You can also pile blankets at your back to prevent yourself from rolling to your other side during the night if that is a concern.
  • Back Position: You can use a pillow to prop your head to align your back and neck.
  • Stomach Position: place a pillow beneath your abdomen to stop your spine from curving downward, creating unnecessary strain.

It is also recommended you elevate your tattoo above your heart to prevent or reduce swelling. This can be achieved by using pillows or rolling towels until you reach the desired height. There are pillows made specifically for elevating arms and legs that you can also look into purchasing.

Don’t Drink Alcohol

You might have plans to go out with your friends the night after your new ink is applied, but this is not recommended. When you drink alcohol, your liver’s focus is split in two, as it is forced to combat alcohol’s effects and produce the protein needed to help your new tattoo heal. Alcohol is broken down by enzymes in the liver, but the proteins produced by the liver are responsible for clotting blood.

Alcohol also doesn’t help you sleep, because although it can put you to sleep, it won’t help you stay asleep. You will find yourself waking up numerous times throughout the night, and if the pain from your tattoo is keeping you awake, this could cause even more problems.

Alcohol also dehydrates you, and fluids are needed for the body to heal. Removing these fluids from your system will slow your recovery time, as well as increase your risk of infection,  neither of which will improve your quality or quantity of sleep.

You should always contact your tattoo artist with any questions and you should see a doctor if you experience a red haze around your tattoo, pus, or extreme swelling as these could all be signs of an infection.

Overall, sleeping with your tattoo is highly based on the quality of care you give it. Poor tattoo hygiene and sleep practices can lead to infection or delayed healing times, adding unneeded stress to your life and decreasing your amount of restful sleep.


  • Tiara is an avid sleeper and fully dedicated to her work and research. Most often this includes, but is not limited to, napping, testing how many hours in one night that she can sleep, trying new sleep methods and constantly changing sleep positions. Tiara's main focuses are on dreams and how we can achieve the best natural sleep possible. As a sufferer of insomnia and other sleep-related disturbances, Tiara loves to dig deep into the subconscious to ask all the questions that can help us better understand what happens when we sleep.

Tiara Croft

Tiara is an avid sleeper and fully dedicated to her work and research. Most often this includes, but is not limited to, napping, testing how many hours in one night that she can sleep, trying new sleep methods and constantly changing sleep positions. Tiara's main focuses are on dreams and how we can achieve the best natural sleep possible. As a sufferer of insomnia and other sleep-related disturbances, Tiara loves to dig deep into the subconscious to ask all the questions that can help us better understand what happens when we sleep.

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