When getting a new tattoo, you might be aware of all of the usual aftercare tips about keeping it moisturized, not picking at the scabs, and avoiding sunscreen and water.

What many people aren't aware is how a healing tattoo can affect your sleep if not treated correctly - especially if you are the type who tosses and turns every night.

So how exactly do you sleep with a new tattoo? Sleeping with a new tattoo requires you to be mindful: clean sheets and avoiding putting pressure on the area of the tattoo is essential. Staying away from alcohol and from sleeping with pets is also crucial to avoid bacteria.

Not taking care while under the sheets can lead to permanent damage to your tattoo or leave you with an infection.

So you can sleep at ease with your new ink, we've gathered the most frequent questions we get from our users, and we've made a list of recommendations for getting a good night's sleep without potentially ruining your beloved new tattoo.

7 Things You Should Know On How to Sleep With a New Tattoo 

#1 Should I Sleep With Film On My New Tattoo?

Many artists will recommend using a specialized tattoo bandage, and keep it on  for the first few nights (up to 3-4). This protects it from bacteria, your sheets, and accidental picking or ripping of the scabs. 

Use only a good wrap developed specifically for tattoo healing, which should be breathable, anti-bacterial, and waterproof.


Sorry Mom Protective Film


After you get home (and keep the original wrap on for the amount of time your artist instructed you to), clean your tattoo with tattoo foam soap or mild soap and lukewarm water. After it's clean and completely dry, rewrap it for the night.

#2 Use clean bed sheets

Crawling into bed with unwashed sheets puts you at risk of infection. A new tattoo is essentially a controlled wound on your skin—an artistic open wound, but a wound nonetheless. 

Take into consideration that during the first few nights, your tattoo will ooze.

Dark color linens are best because you may end up getting ink and blood on the fabric. The ink will likely leave a permanent stain, so don't use sheets that you don't want to be ruined.

Wash your sheets as often as you can, or have a few extra sets that you can rotate between to make sure you’re always using a clean set.

#3 Be mindful of your sleeping position.

Avoid sleeping directly on your new tattoo, at least the first 4 days.

The goal is to try your best not to put any pressure on your tattoo and to keep it from touching anything, at least as much as possible.

A healing tattoo needs lots of fresh air and oxygen, so try not to smother it while sleeping.

You may also want to elevate the tattooed area, if possible. This will help in the healing process and lessen the amount of drainage and swelling you may experience.

Use pillows or sleep wedges to keep your ink propped up while you snooze. 

- What Should I Do if My Skin Gets Stuck in the Bedsheets?

If you happen to toss in your sleep and end up on your tattoo, you may find the sheets stuck to you in the morning.

When that happens, don't panic and don't try to rip off the fabric. That is the worst thing you can do, and you may end up pulling the ink right out of your skin.

Instead, take the entire sheet with you and run the area under slightly warm water. This loosens it up and lets you remove the fabric without damage to your tattoo.

#4 Avoid sleeping with your pets.

We all love a good cuddle with our fur children, but they can be harmful to a healing tattoo. As much as we love and care for them, pets harbor bacteria that can cause infection in an open wound. 

Pet tattoo

Pets instinctively lick their injuries as a way of providing comfort and healing. And if they can get to your new tattoo, they'll probably be tempted to try and comfort and heal you.

After all, you are a part of their pack. While it's a cute gesture, it can also cause infection.

#5 Get lots of rest.

Our bodies need sleep to repair itself.

Not getting enough sleep can actually cause the healing process to take longer than usual.

Be sure to get enough rest during the first week or so after getting your tattoo to allow your body to work its magic.

#6 Avoid alcohol.

A few drinks can make you a bit clumsy, leaving you more likely to bump into things and possibly injure or damage your tattoo.

It also inhibits your judgment, meaning you could end up picking at or scratching your new tattoo without giving it much thought.

Alongside this, you’re also likely to forget to do your aftercare regimen before bed.

And one last reason why alcohol and new tattoos don’t mix: it lessens the time your body spends in REM sleep, which is when the majority of the healing occurs.

This sleep imbalance lowers your overall sleep quality and keeps you from getting the rejuvenation you need while your body heals.

#7 What to do while traveling?

When traveling and staying in hotels with a healing tattoo, be mindful of the germs and bacteria that are hanging out on all of those surfaces.

Wash your hands often, and avoid touching the area around the tattoo until your hands are clean.

You may also want to take a clean set of your own sheets with you to be 100% sure you’re sleeping on a clean surface.

When Can I Sleep on my Tattoo Again?

One of the biggest questions is when can we go back to sleeping like normal.

The average person who has followed their aftercare instructions can start sleeping on their tattoo between 4 to 7 days after getting it.

To be honest, that depends on how quickly your skin heals.

Tattoos usually heal within two to three weeks, so take extra precautions during that time, especially while you sleep to protect your skin.

Bottom Line

Sleeping on a new tattoo can be tricky and uncomfortable and may even ruin a set of sheets.

But making sure that you're taking the proper precautions to keep your new ink safe from infection and damage will keep it looking fresh and you from having to make a return trip to the artist.

We hope you find these sleep tips helpful!

Remember always to follow the instruction of your tattoo artist and keep your tattoo clean and protected.


Our mission is to inspire and educate the tattoo community. We have combined our many years of experience in the industry and our love for tattoos to create useful and enlightening content. Join us in this exciting journey in the beautiful art of tattooing.
Welcome to Sorry Mom.

- Rasmus Cort Hansen, CEO & Founder