How to Sleep with a New Tattoo [The Ultimate Guide]

person undergoing an arm tattoo

Congratulations on getting that tattoo you always dreamed about. Now comes the hard part- allowing the ink to dry off while the bruised body art site begins to heal.

Sleeping with a tattoo can be tricky, to say the least. It is just like sleeping after some sort of surgery be it medical or cosmetic.

You essentially have an open wound that needs to heal without compromising on the quality of your sleep. The situation becomes even more critical when the tattoo is located at a spot you usually sleep on.  An example is a stomach sleeper that opts to get chest tattooed. I’ve have heard a lot of people ask if it is possible to sleep comfortably with a new tattoo? The answer is yes, and you will find it if you read this article. A shorter answer is right below, read further to learn additional tips and tricks. 

How do you sleep with a new tattoo? The best way is if you elevate the tattooed site, keeping it moisturized, and take over-the-counter pain medications. If this is done you should fall asleep just fine even if there are a few awkward moments in bed.

Tips and Tricks to Help You Sleep with a New Tattoo

Whether this is your first time getting inked or you’re a tattoo addict with tens of them, the right steps should be taken after leaving the artist’s parlor. Here are tried and tested techniques that can boost the ability to sleep during the first few nights after getting under a tattoo machine.

1. Fresh Pair of Sheets

No matter the location or size of your new ink, a fresh pair of sheets is non-negotiable. This is because the tats will make contact with your sheets sooner or later.

Since dirty sheets are usually breeding grounds for huge populations of bacteria, dust mites, and dead skin cells, the last thing you need is contact between the tattoo and those sheets. You wouldn’t want to infect the new tattoo wound and suffer ramifications, would you?.

Changing your bed sheets also ensures that the wound and ink do not stain valuable sheets permanently. Remember, no matter how careful you may be, it is inevitable that the ink will get onto the bed sheets at some point.

If you own a couple of expensive Egyptian cotton sheets or another type with a huge price tag or sentimental value, this may be the time to remove them from the bed. Instead, lay the cheapest sheets you own until the wound heals completely.

2. Black Bed Sheets

Looking for a savage way to hide stains caused by tattoo ink? Just save yourself the trouble by ordering a couple of black bed sheets. In my experience, they’re the best bet to ensuring that your bed sheets do not bear the brunt of your latest ink.

The good news is that you can find Black colored versions of any type of sheet you prefer. Don’t forget to order 2-3 pairs so you can put a fresh pair on your bed every night.

3. Leave Your Wrap on Overnight

tattoo artist wrapping a new tattoo

There’s a reason why tattoo artists wrap up the wounds after the procedure – make sure to leave the wrap on overnight. Additionally, your artist will recommend a couple of aftercare instructions upon completion of the tattoo and you must follow them to the core.

Keep in mind that these artists ink bodies for a living and have a lot of experience dealing with issues that can arise after the procedure.

Found a couple of aftercare instructions online? Well, they might sound helpful and all but checking-in with your artist before implementing can help you stay on the safer side.

Additionally, no 2 people heal the same and what may have worked for another person may not necessarily work for you.

To be safe, try to keep your tattoo wrapped for the first 3-4 days after the procedure. This can exponentially increase the aesthetic appeal of the inked spot while protecting it from infections.

4. Don’t Sleep on the New Tattoo

One of the surefire ways of getting the newly inked wound clinging to your bed sheet is to lie down on it. I recommend trying a different sleeping position that can protect the fresh wound from making contact with your sheets.

For instance, if you’ve just gotten your back inked then you should try to sleep on your stomach while the wound heals.  In some cases, side sleeping can also provide elevation for the ink and ensure minimal contact with your bedsheets.

Sure, you may be a dedicated back sleeper who finds the thought of lying down on the stomach cringe-worthy. But sleeping on your new ink can increase the risk of infections which may prevent the wound from healing quickly.

5. Moisturize the Wound 

When you’re desperate for the tattoo wound and ink to dry off quickly, moisturizing is the last thing that may come to mind. However, it can be a critical part of the tattoo-healing process with severe repercussions when you fail to do it.

Regardless of which position you choose, chances are you’ll end up sleeping on the tattoo at some point during the night. This may result in the wound sticking to your sheets.

Your clothes can also do the same, sucking the moisture out of the newly inked wound and making it look excessively dry and unhealthy.

The good news is that the right moisturizer can speed up the healing process while preserving the colors of your tattoo to give it an amazing look.

Always apply just enough moisturizer to keep the wound in tip-top condition and resist the temptation to overdo it. Excessive moisturizer application can mess up how your tattoo turns out when the wound heals completely.  

Remember, there are multiple options to choose from when it comes to tattoo ink moisturizers. However, make sure whichever one you choose has at least these properties.

  • Anti-bacterial
  • Preservative-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Non-petroleum-based
  • Non-irritant
  • Non-allergenic

Looking for the best tattoo moisturizing lotion? The After-inked Tattoo Moisturizer and Aftercare Lotion from Amazon is what I use each time I get inked. I bought it on a recommendation from my tattoo artist and it has been nothing but great for me.

6. Don’t Rip Off Stuck Bedding and Clothes

Woken up to clothes or bed sheets sticking to your tattoo wound? Avoid ripping it off like a band-aid. Well, unless you want to disfigure the tattoo and flush all the money and pain down the drain.

Instead, use the water trick by carrying the bedsheet to your bathroom and allow water to stream on the affected area. After a couple of minutes of water, the area should loosen enough for easy removal of the bedding without having to yank it off.

What about scenarios where your clothes are sticking to the inked wound? We recommend getting under the shower and allowing warm water to stream down your whole body, especially on the tattoo wound.

This should enable the removal of the clothes without messing up the appearance of the tattoo.

7. Kick-off your Cat or Dog from Your Bed

man in glasses sharing a bed with a pet dog

Many of us love to fall asleep with beloved pets side by side even when they have their beds. However, sleeping with them after getting a new ink can be a terrible idea in many ways.

Firstly, dogs and cats love to sniff and lick meaning they can easily lick the tatted area and increase the chances of getting an infection.

Besides, pets carry lots of bacteria and other organisms that can increase the risk of infections during the first couple of nights after your tattoo.

But what if you cannot bear to sleep without your beloved pets? Well, this may be the time to come up with ninja techniques that can help you conceal the ink. This can range from wearing long pajamas that cover virtually every part of the body to a loose-fitting t-shirt if the ink is located in your upper body.

But what if your pet accidentally makes contact with the tattoo wound? Well, you should quickly wash it with warm water and apply an anti-bacterial ointment.

I love the Aquaphor Anti-bacterial Ointment from Amazon. It is perfect for all kinds of wounds including tattoo-induced ones.

8. Always Keep Tattoo Wipes Close

Tattoo wipes are an important part of the healing process and this is why it is extremely important to always keep them close.

These wipes have antibacterial properties which makes them suitable for cleaning tattoos safely.

It is critical to keep the wipes on the nightstand or another easy-to-reach area in case you need them at some point during the night.

Many tattoo artists recommend cleaning the wound several times a day to ensure speedy healing while looking good at the same time.

The use of wipes can also provide little relief from the pain especially during the first few nights which can improve the chances of sleeping well.

However, be sure to choose a wipe that can keep your tattoo clean without wiping off the ink.

The Wipe Outz Sterilized Tattoo Aftercare Wipes from Amazon keeps my tattoos clean and attractive during the first 72 hours or so after leaving the artist’s parlor. It is highly recommended if you’ve just gotten a new tattoo or planning to book an appointment with your favorite artist soon.

10. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is a key ingredient for the quick healing of tattoos. If you’ve been skipping out on getting 8 hours of nightly shuteye for one reason or the other, the first couple of nights after getting inked should be an exception.

Make sure to go to bed early and try to sleep in. If you’re an insomniac, now is the time to incorporate sleep-inducing techniques such as late-night walks to tire the brain and help you nod off quickly.

A lack of adequate sleep can interrupt the healing process and lengthen the period unnecessarily. Besides, good sleep can also enhance the outcome of the new ink on the body. This can ensure that you do not waste money and go through exhilarating pain for nothing. 

11. Kick the Booze to the Curb

Whether you’re a social drinker or booze more frequently, the first week or so after getting tatted is when you turn teetotal- at least temporarily.

Wound-healing of any sort and alcohol do not mix well and tattoos are no exception. Remember, healing from a wound can be a complicated process and the body needs to be in the best shape to achieve optimal results.

Besides, alcohol consumption, especially in large quantities can impair the body’s natural ability to fight against bacterial infections.

Feeling tipsy or excessively drunk can also increase the risk of suffering bodily injuries. It can even disfigure or aggravate the tattoo wound and delay the healing process much further.

Additionally, drinking alcohol may escalate the urge to wake up several times at night to pee. This can cause dehydration while also disrupting the ability to stay asleep for optimum tattoo healing.

The decrease in bodily fluids from dehydration can also slow down the healing process. Thus, it is critical to hold off going to your favorite tavern for beers to celebrate the new tattoo until it heals completely.

12. Elevate the Inked Area

Elevating the inked area can be a smart way to keep your tattoo wound fresh and healthy. It can also be critical for tats in areas such as the wrists, butts, and hands which can be more prone to swelling.

The best way to elevate a tattooed body area is to place a thick blanket, pillow, or towel underneath it while ensuring no contact with the wound.

13. Ditch Bedtime Distractions

You need the best sleep you can get during the first week or so after getting a fresh tattoo. This means getting rid of any distractions that can keep you awake at bedtime.

Ditching the smartphone, tablet, and other gadgets that emit sleep-disrupting blue light at night can be a great idea.

Additionally, turning off the television and lights can also aid good sleep. During hot periods of the year, turning down the thermostat in the bedroom can also create an enabling environment to boost sleep.

How to Sleep With a Tattoo While Travelling

Have you just gotten a tattoo while holidaying in another country or at a tattoo convention in a foreign city? Sleeping can be a nightmare as you may be lodging in a cheap motel, hostel, or Airbnb and have little to no home comforts.

The first step is to go out and buy a couple of cheap new sheets the day before or immediately after getting the procedure done. Then get all the additional supplies recommended above such as wipes, moisturizers, and anti-bacterial lotions.

Regardless of how clean the hotel sheets may look, you may be clueless about what is underneath it.

Thus, a fresh pair of sheets can do the wound a lot of good with regards to protection from bacterial infections. If you pre-conceive the idea of getting inked, be sure to pack your own sets of sheets in the luggage before the trip.

When Can You Sleep on Your Tattoo?

The answer is 7 days. The majority of people experience obvious signs of healing after about a week of getting the procedure done.

Unless you’re suffering from a medical condition that causes abnormal delays of the healing process, you should be able to sleep on the new tattoo wound within 7 days without the risk of infections or disfiguring the ink.

However, if you’re still feeling uncomfortable to sleep on it after a week, waiting a few more days won’t hurt.


It is no secret that sleeping with a tattoo can be a difficult process. Many tatted folks say the first couple of nights after the procedure can be rough on their sleep routine.

This is why we’ve revealed everything you need to enjoy blissful nights immediately after getting tattooed.

As long as you follow our recommendations above, you can achieve amazing sleep regardless of how much pain you may be experiencing after the procedure.

As always, listen to your tattoo artist’s aftercare directions to guarantee the best results.

Gabriel Smith

Hello, my name is Gabriel and I LOVE to sleep. Okay, you’re right, a lot of people do like sleep. But my passion is actually not sleeping. My interest lies in the “theoretical part”. What to do before bedtime. What a good night’s sleep is. etc. In short, how to sleep well. I hope you share the same interest as me, and enjoy reading everything about sleep.

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