One of the most exciting things in life is getting a new tattoo. But, no matter how exciting that is, getting a tattoo is always followed by a few troublesome days. You need to take care of your tattoo so it can heal properly, and you also need to learn to sleep properly. Getting a good-quality sleep is essential for your tattoo healing, but even more important is HOW you get that sleep.
As we can also conclude, sleeping on a fresh tattoo is painful and uncomfortable, and it will for sure mess up the tattoo healing process. So, what can you do? Here’s your ultimate guide to sleeping with a new tattoo! So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Sleeping On The New Tattoo – Why You Should NOT Do It
You’ll Be Sleeping On an Open Wound
It can be easy to forget that your new tattoo is actually an open, fresh wound. Because the needle needs to penetrate the skin to transfer the ink, it creates holes and promotes bleeding and plasma oozing even after the tattoo is done.
For the first 24 hours, your tattoo will be wrapped with a plastic foil or a wrapper of some kind, and the tattoo will continue to bleed and ooze. Now, imagine sleeping on a tattoo; it would be incredibly painful and it would mess up the bleeding. The reason for this is you applying additional pressure onto an already sensitive and irritated area.
So, sleeping on a new tattoo could result in;
- Squeezing the fresh ink from the skin
- Applying pressure to the wound, and squeezing it
- Promoting heavier bleeding and oozing due to your weight and the pressure
- Promoting further skin irritation and risking the wrapper getting stuck to the tattoo
You’ll Prevent The Tattoo From Breathing
Air is essential for the healing of open wounds, like a tattoo. Even though the tattoo is wrapped the first day or two, it still needs room to breathe and heal. Now, you sleeping on the tattoo will block all the air from entering under the wrapper. Plus, because of all the weight and pressure, the tattooed area will heat up, become sweaty and further prevent the skin from healing.
As you can imagine, moist and humid areas are the perfect place for germs and bacteria to grow. Sleeping on a tattoo promotes promote bacteria growth and further complicates the tattoo healing process. This can even lead to a tattoo infection.
You’ll Damage The Tattoo
So, since you can cause all sorts of issues by sleeping on a tattoo, it is fair enough to say that you will also completely damage the final tattoo design, shape, and size.
Since you’ll be squeezing out the ink, causing the tattoo to heat up and sweat, you will not only prevent proper healing but even damage the tattoo appearance itself.
By squeezing out the ink in the first 24 hours, you can expect your tattoo to have blank spots, patches of spread-out ink, and a completely different appearance. In case your sleeping on the tattoo results in an infection, be sure you’ll be booking a laser tattoo removal appointment very soon.
So, How Should You Sleep With a New Tattoo?
Prepare The Bed
The first thing you want to do is prepare the bed and the bedding. We recommend you pull out some old (clean) sheets and covers, preferably of a darker color.
The reason for this lies in the fact that your tattoo is still bleeding and oozing, and there will also be excess ink. You can be sure some of the blood and plasma will end up on your sheets and covers. And, you cannot wash the ink away.
So, use the bedding that you won’t mind getting dirty, and make sure to have a few sheets to spare, because you’ll be needing them throughout the tattoo healing process.
Handle The Wrapper
Now, here are the two things you can do;
- You can go to sleep with the same wrapper applied by your tattooist, or
- You can re-wrap the tattoo and then go to sleep
Now, we don’t necessarily recommend re-wrapping a fresh tattoo. But, if you feel like the wrap is trapping too much moisture, or that your tattoo is bleeding and oozing, then feel free to re-wrap the tattoo using cling film before going to bed.
This way you may not stain the bedding as much, and you will ensure the tattoo is breathing and not soaking in moisture.
However, never even think of removing the wrapper completely before going to sleep. Your tattoo will most likely get stuck to the sheets or the covers, which would be incredibly painful to unstick.
Tip: If somehow, during sleep, your wrapper slips off and the tattoo sticks to the sheets, stay calm. There is an effective trick you can use to unstick the tattoo from the sheets. By all means, DO NOT rip them off. Instead, apply warm water to the area and let the sheets slip away from the tattoo on their own. Then, wash the tattoo, ta pit dry with a paper towel, and reapply the wrapper.
Consider Your Sleeping Position
Now, it can be a little difficult to provide universal advice on how to sleep with a new tattoo, depending on its location on your body. But, we’ll try.
- Of course, if your tattoo is located somewhere on the arm, you will obviously not choose to sleep on the side; instead, sleep on your back or your stomach, and keep the tattooed arm elevated.
- If your tattoo is located somewhere on the chest, abdomen, or rib area, you will sleep on the back.
- The same applies to a tattoo being located on your legs and feet. Make sure to sleep on the back, but also keep the legs and feet elevated if possible. Do not put any pillows under the legs if the tattoo is located, for example, on the back thighs or a calf. Instead, try sleeping on the side to avoid friction and pressure.
- If your tattoo is placed on the back or the buttock area, you’ll have to sleep on your stomach for a few days.
The most important thing you should remember is that you cannot apply pressure onto the new tattoo. And, if you do sleep on the tattoo, you’ll apply the pressure due to your weight. So, avoid sleeping in a position that will have your body press on the tattoo.
Whether you partner or a pet, you’ll have to kick them out of the bed for a few nights. When dealing with a new tattoo, it is essential you sleep comfortably and not worry about your pet or partner disturbing you during the night.
For example, sleeping with a partner may cause a distraction, and your partner may, unintentionally, hug you or hurt your tattooed area during the night.
On the other hand, your pet will surely create another set of issues. First of all, cats and dogs harbor bacteria, which they can transfer onto your sheets. This bacteria can end up in your tattoo and cause an infection.
So, try to sleep alone for a few nights, just in case!
Ditch The Alcohol
Drinking alcohol before and after getting a tattoo is a bad idea. If you drink alcohol post-tattoo, you increasing the risk of excess bleeding. Alcohol is known for its blood-thinning effects, so you may be dealing with a lot of bleeding, which will further disturb your tattoo and your sleep.
Not to mention that, when drunk, you cannot control your sleeping position or your behavior during sleep. You may start scratching your tattoo, remove the wrapper and sleep on the tattoo, all because you’re drunk.
Moreover, alcohol lowers and impairs your immune system. With a messed-up immune system, your tattoo will have a hard time healing. The healing process may prolong, which carries the risk of an infection in the long run.
Why Is It Important To Get Some Sleep After a Tattoo?
Sleeping is one of the most important aspects of our lives and our health. Without proper sleep, our bodies cannot function properly, and we’re risking our health without it. Sleep is even more important after the body has suffered some kind of trauma or disease.
Getting a tattoo is incredibly stressful for the body. It has to deal with an open wound and ensure that the wound heals properly. That is why sleep is so important.
- During sleep, the body repairs itself and ensures the tattoo is healing properly.
- Sleep allows the body to regain energy and deal with tattoo-induced stress.
- Sleep allows your immune system to catch up with the repair.
- During sleep, the body promotes tissue growth and skin damage repair (in this case, the damage is the holes made by the tattoo machine needles).
- During sleep, your body will focus on blood clotting and replenishing the white blood cells (these cells have an essential role in fighting off infections).
The Bottom Line
Getting a tattoo is a great experience, but by getting proper sleep you’ll get a chance to truly enjoy such an experience. Without sleep, your body won’t be able to handle all the tattoo-induced stress, and you’ll risk prolonged healing or infection.
So, do whatever it takes! Let your partner know why is it important to sleep alone, and keep your pets outside the bedroom as well. Eat healthy foods, drink enough water, and stay away from alcohol.
Make sure to also keep everything clean; your hands, your sheet, and try to take regular showers. During showering keep your tattoo wrapped to avoid it from getting wet.
For more information about proper tattoo aftercare and the things you should not do after getting a tattoo, make sure to check out our other tattoo-educating articles.