New tattoos need proper care to ensure that they heal well, and to avoid any potential infections. This care is necessary not only during the day but also while sleeping with a new tattoo. Which is where we come in!
There are a few steps that can be taken to protect your new tattoo while you sleep, as well as keep it pain free and comfortable. We show you those right here, including tips on how to sleep with a new tattoo and the best sleeping position.
Sleeping With A New Tattoo
As one of the best ways to add art to your body and show personality, values, and interests, tattoos are very common and are a safe procedure. They have been used throughout time as a way to mark important passages of time or life events, memorials for loved ones, and more. Often seen as a right of passage in some cultures, tattoos can be anything and almost any size, allowing the wearer to show something about themselves on their skin.
However, regardless of your reasons for getting a tattoo there’s certain things you must do when sleeping to avoid pain, and ensure your new tattoo remains clean through the night.
Sleeping With a New Tattoo: The Nine Easy Steps You Must Take
Tattoo aftercare doesn’t always address the best way to sleep with a new tattoo, even though it is an important part of ensuring that it heals well. Thankfully there are nine easy steps you can take that will help you to achieve a good rest overnight and make sure your new tattoo heals as it should.
1. Keep the Original Bandage On For The First Night
Many artists will recommend that you leave the original bandage on for the first night, or to obtain additional tattoo wraps and wash, dry, and cover it before bed. This will create a seal around the tattoo and keep bacteria and germs away from the area. That’s important as the small needle marks from tattooing leave tiny wounds on the skin, and they are an easy way for bacteria to get into your body and cause an infection to occur.
2. Sleep on the Opposite Side of the Tattoo
Sleeping on the opposite side of your new tattoo is important at first. If the right side is tattooed then sleep on the left, and if the left side is tattooed, including your arm or leg, then sleep on the right side.
For tattoos that are on your front then sleeping on your back is the preferred position. And a tattoo on your back will require sleeping on your stomach.
It is necessary to avoid putting weight or pressure on the wound as this can cause the tattoo to bleed, become irritated and painful, and/or to become infected. While some people only avoid sleeping on their new tattoo for the first night, it is recommended to continue sleeping on the opposite side of your new tattoo for a week or two to get the best results.
3. Keep Tattoo Wipes Nearby
Keeping tattoo wipes near your bed can allow the bandages or wrapping to be easily removed in the morning and lets your new tattoo be cleaned with the wipe straight away. These wipes are antibacterial and will reduce the chance of infection, and often have ingredients to reduce irritation and discomfort.
If burning, pus, or slight bleeding occurs because of sleeping on your tattoo, these wipes can help clean it and disinfect the area straight away.
4. Prioritize Sleep
As a way to manage any pain and encourage faster healing, it is important to get enough sleep each night. Eight hours of sleep will provide time for the cells in your body to repair themselves and for the tattoo to heal. Every body responds differently to stress but everyone has a higher pain tolerance when the mind and body are fully rested.
Being well rested will therefore decrease any discomfort from your new tattoo and allow for regular tasks and movement to continue throughout the day. Calming background sounds, correct lighting, and comfortable bedding will also all help to provide an environment that encourages a deep and restful sleep.
5. Keep Pets Out of the Bedroom
Pets are well loved members of many families; however, they are not a friend of a new tattoo! Keep pets out of the bedroom while your tattoo is healing, as any fur or hair that they leave around can come in contact with the tattoo and cause irritation. Or even bring with it bacteria that can lead to an infection.
Pets will not understand the need to be careful around the area and may bump it, scratch it, or even try to lick it. These are all behaviors that will not only cause pain but can also increase the risk of infection by moving bacteria into the area around and on your new tattoo.
6. Use Clean Sheets
For additional protection against infection, your bed sheets should be changed or rotated frequently. This will prevent dirt or bacteria from the bed sheets finding their way into your tattoo and creating an infection. Clean sheets can also help provide a comfortable and relaxed sleep too!
7. Avoid Alcohol
Avoiding alcohol will improve sleep with a new tattoo for a few reasons.
The first is that alcohol is known to reduce pain threshold and will make any new tattoo feel more uncomfortable and painful.
But perhaps more important is the fact alcohol tends to decrease the quality of your sleep, and lead to increased restlessness during the night. That can lead to tossing and turning during the night which can result in bumping or sleeping on your tattoo.
A hangover, and having alcohol in your system, and a lack of sleep will all cause your new tattoo to feel more painful too. And it will slow healing as your body works on addressing the effects of alcohol rather than anything else.
8. Clean and Moisturize the Tattoo Throughout the Day
To avoid your tattoo from sticking to, or being dried out by, bed sheets, it is important to ensure that your new tattoo is cleaned and moisturised throughout the day as well as before bed.
Bed sheets can cause irritation, or pull moisture from your skin and leave the tattoo dry and irritated. In turn that will increase discomfort and will increase risk of infection.
Using an antimicrobial moisturizer will help your tattoo from drying out and keep it hydrated, while also killing bacteria and helping to avoid infection. Some of these creams will also have a painkiller within their ingredients, thus reducing any pain.
If clothing or bed sheets become stuck to the tattoo, do not pull them off, but rather use water to loosen the material and allow the water to help ease the clothing from the tattoo without causing harm. Removing any material by pulling it off can result in removal of the scab that has formed to protect the tattoo. That will both be painful, as well as leave the area susceptible to bacteria and infection.
9. Sleep with the Tattoo Elevated
If possible, sleeping with your new tattoo elevated can be very useful. For example propping your leg on a pillow (if a leg tattoo) or raising your arm on cushions. Not only will this potentially keep your tattoo out of the way and hopefully protect it, but elevating it can help swelling and decrease inflammation.
Sleeping With a New Tattoo: Prepare Your Bedroom in Advance
Before you get your new tattoo, ensure that your bedroom is set up for a successful sleep. This will then make it easy at bedtime for you to rest, rather then having to set up your room later.
There should be clean sheets put on your bed, as this will reduce any bacteria and germs that come in contact with your skin and particularly your new tattoo, in turn reducing infection risk. Dark sheets are recommended as there may still be some ink that runs from the tattoo that could stain the sheets. Plus your new tattoo may bleed slightly during the first few nights. Light and breathable sheets are less likely to stick to the tattoo, so we recommend those for a comfortable sleep.
If possible, make your bedroom slightly cooler than during the day, as this will encourage your body to go into a deeper sleep and to stay asleep longer. This will also prevent your body from sweating and causing the bedsheets to stick to the tattoo or irritate it in any way. Keep the room dark so that your body will relax and prepare for sleep, and reduce any noise and disruption that may cause frequent night waking.
Loose clothing should be worn to bed as they will not rub, restrict, or stick to the tattoo. This will allow for your clothing to move freely overnight and not cause restricted movement or irritation in the area of the tattoo. Such clothing will also allow air to access the new tattoo and encourage the healing process, as fresh air is imperative to a fast and healthy healing process.
Caring for a New Tattoo
The first step to a successful tattoo is to select an artist that adheres to all safety and health requirements, and maintains a clean shop. View their past work when possible, to see if their style meets yours, as finding the right artist can make the entire process more successful. They should provide full aftercare instructions and answer any questions on how to encourage the best healing process possible.
Aftercare instructions will include when to remove the original bandaging, how and when to clean the tattoo, and how to protect it during the first few days or weeks as it heals. The new tattoo will be covered in a wrap or bandage after it is completed. That’s to keep out dirt and debris and to help reduce any swelling and inflammation that occurs.
The skin around the tattoo will be irritated for a while after the procedure, and it may be uncomfortable or sore for hours after it has been completed. Your tattoo artist will tell you when to take the bandage off, but it will be a minimum of two hours after your tattoo is completed. You can then wash the tattoo with appropriate soap and warm water, after which you can allow it to air dry to avoid touching it with a towel or further irritating the skin. It is important to keep the tattoo clean, to keep moisturizer on the skin around the tattoo, and to ensure it is protected from the sun to avoid fading. An antibacterial ointment may be provided that must be applied according to the directions given. This will reduce the chance of infection by fighting bacteria that may form in the area.
The healing process may take up to six weeks, and the tattoo should be washed at least a few times each day until the healing has completed. It is important not to scratch the tattoo or to remove the scabs that build over it, as they protect the healing skin from infection and irritation.
Other recommendations include not allowing the tattoo to soak in water, to avoid strenuous exercise while it is healing, and to wear clothing that is loose and will not rub on the tattoo or irritate it. If the tattoo is in a difficult to reach area it may be necessary to have a friend or family member help you keep it clean and to apply any cream that is needed.
Sleeping With a New Tattoo: Our Final Thoughts
When getting a new tattoo there is a lot of planning involved, but often people do not plan how they will sleep at night while still protecting their tattoo.
By preparing your bedroom, having pyjamas or loose clothing, and preparing the tattoo before bed, infection can be prevented, pain can be decreased, and the tattoo can also heal faster.
Ensuring you get enough sleep is important, as is making sure your bedroom is a cool space that has been prepared so bacteria or pet hair won’t come in contact with the tattoo. It is also important to find a way to sleep that will not put pressure or weight on your new tattoo, as this can lead to irritation, bleeding, and even pus leaking from the tattoo. All of which can lead to infection.