Sleeping with a New Tattoo – the Best Sleep Positions

Sleeping with a new tattoo

Thinking of getting a Tattoo? Wondering how to sleep with a new tattoo? Prepare yourself in advance for sleeping with it when it is new and while it heals. Some tattoo artists have stated that they have seen tattoos heal badly due to the way the owner has slept on it.

Sleeping with a new tattoo! –The best way to sleep with a new tattoo is to try not to lay on it. Planning the best sleep position so you do not lay or lean on it is the best option but sometimes depending upon where the tattoo is located this is not possible. So using clean clothing and bedding is the next best option.

Sleeping with a new tattoo

New Tattoos

The tips outlined below will give you peace of mind so you will get some sleep. Six to eight hours of sleep in the best position will also help your new tattoo heal the best it can.

When considering tattoos you need to remember that they are actually open wounds. As you know open wounds should be treated carefully especially when brand new. Bacteria that can infect your tattoo can come from many places including your bed.

If you do not change your bed linen very often the first thing you can do for your new tattoo is to start doing so.

Also, our pets carry so many different types of bacterias on their bodies, mouths, and paws including their own feces. If you are a person who has pets in or around your bed you should consider locking your pets out of your bedroom.

You may also want to begin training your pets to sleep elsewhere before you get your tattoo. If they won’t move out of your bed maybe you could move to another bed just for the first few days. It’s not forever just until a scab forms a protective layer over your tattoo.

Infection for a new tattoo is at its greatest within the first five days. The more you can do to prepare for your new tattoo the better the outcome.

How to Sleep with a New Tattoo

Let’s face it from this new open wound you can suffer irritation, discomfort, swelling, slow healing and at the very least loss of much-needed sleep.

Check out the tips below which can help you get the best sleep possible and try to avoid infection of your tattoo or worse.

1. Sleep Position

A great way for an awesome sleep without messing up your new tattoo is to practice sleeping in the correct position. For a few nights or a week before this will help the tattoo not touch anything especially for the first night or two

For example:-

If you are getting a tattoo on the front your torso, forearms, inside arms, hands, on the front of your legs or feet practice sleeping on your back. You can do this by using the correct height pillow for your head, back and neck one that is not too high is perfect.

To keep you in that position throughout the night use a small pillow, a rolled-up towel or something similar, and place it under your knees. This supports your lower back and keeps you in place on your back during the night.

Getting a tattoo on your back or along one or the other side of your body means you will have to sleep on either side or on your stomach. If you are not a regular side or stomach sleeper the key is support. This can be achieved by pillows front and/or back depending upon where the tattoo is.

If you have to sleep on your stomach as well as your pillow for your head you can slide a pillow under either side of your torso for support so you are not flat on your stomach if you don’t want to be.

If you want to go for targeted support there are back and stomach sleeper pillows available. As well as full-body pillows for side and stomach sleeping. These are designed to support and will make your selected sleeping position more comfortable.

Tattoo Tips:-  If you are able to keep the tattooed area a little elevated it assists with discomfort.

2. Practice Sleeping Position Required

  • On your back for tattoos on the front of your body
  • On sides or stomach to suit where other tattoos are placed

3. Sharing Your Bed


The first couple of nights without sharing your bed will give you and your partner the best sleep. Just be aware of how your partner sleeps if they are a restless sleeper you might consider not sharing a bed for a couple of nights.


Be aware that if you sleep with your pets and have an open wound it could cause infection. We all love to think that our pets are clean, warm and cuddly. But in fact, the opposite is true their hair, paws, mouths, tongues, and the dribble is your new tattoo’s worst enemy.

If you are able to separate yourself from them for a couple of nights to a week the chances of infection are reduced. If you cannot be extra vigilant with your bedding and cleaning.

3. Clean Bedding

Changing and or washing your sheets, shams and towel every day if you are sleeping with the tattoo uncovered will help to keep any bacteria out of the wound.

4. Bedding and Clothing

Avoid using light-colored bedding and clothing especially any that are valuable to you. This is because you will never get the ink out of the fabric.

Use dark-colored old clothing, sheets, shams and old towels. Once you are over the healing period you can wash them up ready for the next tattoo, tear them up and use for rags or toss them in the trash.

You could also lay a towel or light piece of clean fabric between you and the bed linen just in case your wound weeps throughout the night. Small pieces of fabric are easier to remove if sticking happens.

5. Sleeping Wedges

These are so useful as there so many different shapes and sizes for various parts of the body. They help to keep you in a certain position all night for example on your side or back. They can also assist in keeping your arm or leg elevated.

Because they are in your bed supporting you if you are tempted to move around during the night you will be aware of the wedge then realize you should not take that position because of your new tattoo.

Want to have a peek at reasonably priced wedges take a look here at Amazon.

Depending upon where your new tattoo is located on your body and the position you need to sleep in you can use a pillow wedged between your knees. It is a great way to stop yourself from moving around throughout the night and disturbing your tattoo.

See this article about the benefits of sleeping with a pillow between your legs.

6. Fabric Sticks to Your Tattoo

If your tattoo sticks to any fabric do not pull the fabric off – messy and painful. Getting the fabric wet is the answer. Take the stuck fabric into the shower with you and get it thoroughly wet it will come away on its own without tearing your skin off.

Into the laundry with that particular piece of fabric. Replace it for a clean one for your next sleep.

7. Keep it out in the Open

Keeping your tattoo out in the open without anything touching it, provides no rubbing or irritation, a great option.

8. Traveling

If you are traveling just after or when you will get your new tattoo you will not regret taking your own clean bed linen. It does not matter how clean, fresh and sparking a bed looks it probably isn’t.

Even if you are staying with relatives or friends they will appreciate you looking after your tattoo with your own fabrics.

Sleeping with a New Tattoo

Should You Wrap Tattoo You Are While Sleeping?

Plastic wrap tattoo overnight? This decision should be made between you and your tattoo artist this is because there are different ways of healing. For example, dry healing or wet healing and both have different requirements.

If at any time you are unsure talk to your tattooist.

Importance of Tattoo After Care

First Few Days of Tattoo Care

Once the ink of your tattoo is in your skin it is permanent, but the area should be treated with extreme care in the first couple of weeks.

1. Clothing

Where a new change of clothing morning and night will help a great deal with any bacteria that is lying on the surface of the fabric. If you work outdoors laboring you should get out of those clothes as soon as possible and shower before putting on new clothes.

2. Showering and Cleaning

Showering for the first time when your bandage is removed all you need to do is very gently wash with fragrance-free soap. Ensure the soap is rinsed off thoroughly. Let the area dry on its own if possible or gently pat around the area dry.

3. Moisturizing and Oils

That advice should come straight from your tattoo artist. They should have the perfect one on hand for you to purchase as well as the instructions to use the products safely for the best healing outcome.

Tattoo Safety

What Not to Do to Your New Tattoo

1. Pets

Wash your hands whenever you interact with your pets as their saliva is full of bacteria. Same for caring for your pets be extra vigilant when cleaning up after them or feeding them.

2. Glad Wrap or Saran Wrap or Any Other Wrap

Do not use any plastic wraps because your wound needs to breathe to heal. (consult with your tattoo artist – always) The plastic of Glad or Saran wrap will make you sweat and you will end up with bacteria in and around your tattoo that could cause pain and damage.

Add to this the difficulty in wrapping the tattoo without touching the wrap, you risk getting bacteria on the wrap then into the wound. Impossible task!

3. Hands and Touching

Others, as well as yourself, are going to want to touch the tattoo. It is just human nature. We all have bacteria on our hands so keep hand off your new tattoo. No scratching!

4. Water and Outside Elements

Stay out of the hot tubs, swimming pools, (source) the tub, streams, lakes or ocean for the healing time of your tattoo. It doesn’t matter how clean the water looks soaking in water will slow down the healing time of your tattoo. Hot tubs and swimming pools are also a breeding ground for bacteria.

Stay out of the sun your tattoo will burn easily and don’t want a sunburn that you need to scratch while it is healing.

Tattoo After Care Products

Your tattooist will have given you advice on which aftercare products they recommend. Our family usually walks away from the store with the awesome products that are recommended. But they do need replenishing – we have found the ones that work {for us} and just keep reordering when required.

If you need to replenish your supply or you have not yet purchased your products or you want to read reviews listed below are links to the products we use.

Products Our Family Uses and Recommends

{All links listed below take you to Amazon}

  1. Cleanser – gentler the better – this one we love because it is once again vegan.
  2. Healing Ointment – this is an advanced healing cream that dermatologists recommend.
  3. Tattoo Butter – we love this because lubricates and moisturizes during the total tattoo process and it is 100% Vegan which replaces nasty petroleum-based products.
  4. Clear Adhesive Antibacterial Wrap – we continually use this brand primarily because there has never been an issue and has always made the perfect aftercare bandage.
  5. Tattoo Care Gift Sets – an easy gift for tattooed family and friends – a little luxury care for their beautiful tattoos.

General Sleep Hygiene

Remember to practice your regular sleep good hygiene habits. Following your usual sleeping patterns will ensure you get the best night’s sleep you can especially for that first couple of painful nights after getting your new tattoo.

A couple of reminders:-

  • Avoid Alcohol – at this time your liver and body need to help the tattooed area heal – alcohol will impede this process.
  • Limit stimulants like coffee, tea, energy drinks, chocolate, sugary treats, heavy or spicy meals too close to bedtime.
  • Watch your screen time too close to bedtime it can affect your sleep.

If you need some help with Sleep Hygiene check out this article I have prepared here. If you want an awesome Sleep Hygiene Checklist you can see my one here.

Tattoo Tips:-  If you are undergoing tattoo ink removal the above sleep practices can be used and they will definitely assist with any discomfort.

Final Thoughts – Sleeping with a New Tattoo – the Best Sleep Positions

If you are new to tattoos or have not had a pleasant experience with a previous tattoo carry out a little homework before taking the step. Talk to others – get referrals, met your new tattoo artist and get yourself comfortable with this new experience.

The area will take over three weeks to heal and settle down so patience is the key.

Make sure you follow the instructions of your tattoo artist. If these are not clear or you are unsure of instructions received to reach out to another professional tattoo artist for confirmation.

Any sign of infection – for example – the wound seeping, redness, and irritation around the tattoo or uncomfortable swelling could be a sign of infection. Seeing your tattooist or a doctor at this time is good practice to make sure the area is not infected.

As always here’s to better sleep!

Sleeping with a New Tattoo

Sleeping with a New Tattoo – FAQ’s

Should I Sleep with Cling Film on My Tattoo

The answer is to talk to your tattoo artist if you feel you really want to use a wrap. They will advise the best course of action for you. This is required because there are many different options for healing depending upon the type of tattoo you have chosen.

How to Sleep with a New Tattoo on Arm

Keep the arm away from fabric if possible and slightly elevated for a night of better sleep.

Sleeping with a New Tattoo on Leg

Place your leg on a pillow to elevate for comfort and avoid fabric if possible.

When Can I Sleep on My Tattoo?

This time will vary for all. It really depends upon when your tattoo starts to heal. Popular responses recorded say you can sleep on your tattoo after 4 days to 1 week.

Video – Best Tattoo Aftercare | Step by Step Guide (By a Certified Tattoo Artist!)

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Categorized as Beauty

By Michelle D.

Meet Michelle, founder of Tip Top Sleep, a website dedicated to helping you achieve the best sleep possible. With over 50 years of combined experience in the realm of sleep, Michelle and her team provide easy-to-follow tips and strategies to help you feel better, function better, and live better through optimal sleep. Let us help you prioritize your sleep and discover the power of a good night's rest.