How To Sleep With A Back Tattoo

Many aren’t aware of how a healing tattoo can affect your sleep, especially if you’re one to toss and turn throughout the night. Of course, depending on its size and placement, some tattoos aren’t much of a hassle, while others can keep you up at night. Back tattoos can definitely be annoying when you’re trying to get some shut-eye. So, how should you sleep with a back tattoo?

Always avoid sleeping on your back tattoo by either sleeping on your stomach or side instead. Further, there are additional steps you need to take when sleeping with a new tattoo, including keeping your bed clean, wrapping your tattoo, elevating the area, and letting the tattoo breathe.

Getting enough sleep after getting a new tattoo is critical to healing. Sleep is good for our bodies and general health in countless ways, and it is especially useful for giving your body the strength to regenerate and heal. If you want your tattoo to heal as quickly as possible, be sure to give your body some extra help by booking a full eight hours.

How To Sleep With A Back Tattoo

A common question among those with new back tattoos is how they’re supposed to sleep. While the obvious answer is to avoid sleeping on the tattoo, there are other things to consider when sleeping with a new tattoo – no matter its size or placement.

Sleeping With A New Tattoo

It may not be on the list of top concerns and questions about new tattoos, but how you sleep with your new tattoo is extremely important. Not taking caution in how you sleep with fresh ink can permanently damage your tattoo or leave you with a nasty infection.

  • Clean Sheets: Remember that a new tattoo is a fresh and open wound on your skin, and crawling into a bed with unwashed sheets puts you at risk of infection. Your tattoo may even ooze and bleed during the night, so use sheets you don’t mind getting stains on. But be sure to always sleep with clean sheets and wash or rotate as often as needed.
  • Wrapping: Many artists recommend sleeping with your tattoo wrapped for the first 3 – 4 nights. This will protect the area from bacteria and accidental ripping off the scabs. You should use a breathable, anti-bacterial, and waterproof film developed specifically for tattoo healing.
  • No Pets: If you have pets that are usually allowed on your bed, you’re going to have to say no for a little while. As you may guess, animals harbor a lot of bacteria; thus, they need to be kept off the bed when you have a fresh tattoo trying to heal. Further, pets may try to lick the tattoo as they identify it as a wound and want to provide comfort – as cute as this is, it can cause an infection.
  • Avoiding Pressure: You should avoid sleeping directly on your tattoo, at least for the first few days. The aim is to keep pressure off the tattoo and stop it from touching or rubbing against anything.
  • Don’t Smother It: Healing tattoos need fresh air and oxygen so they can breathe, so don’t smother your tattoo under the sheets. Considering this, it may also be best not to wear light and loose clothing over the tattooed area.
  • Elevate: You may choose to use a pillow or something else to keep your tattoo elevated, if possible, while you sleep. This will aid the healing process and lessen the amount of swelling and drainage you experience.
  • Stuck Sheets: If you happen to end up on your tattoo during the night, you could wake up with your sheets stuck to you. Don’t rip off the fabric because you could pull the ink out of your skin. Take the sheet with you and run the area under warm water until you can remove it.
  • Cleaning Your Tattoos: Your tattoo needs to be washed twice a day, and right before going to bed and after getting up are the best times to do this. This way, you are getting rid of build-ups on your skin formed over the course of the day and night.

Don’t worry; you don’t have to be this careful with your tattoo forever. If you follow your aftercare instructions, you should be able to sleep on your tattoo within or around a week after getting it. However, this timeline can depend on how fast you heal specifically.

Sleep Positions With A Back Tattoo

The advice for sleeping with any tattoo – especially a back tattoo – is to sleep on the opposite side to where the tattoo is. Thus, if you have a tattoo anywhere on the rear side of your body, it is advised that you sleep on your stomach or side.

However, people who move a lot during their sleep rarely follow this advice or may try their best but wake up and realize they moved in their sleep. Try to resist the urge to move onto the same side of the tattoo as much as you can. If you are able to hold out for a few nights so your tattoo can heal, you should be able to return to how you normally sleep.

If you are used to sleeping on your back, this position change can be difficult. But you can get some help with careful pillow placements:

  • Propping pillows on one or both of your sides may help you stay in your chosen position.
  • If you are going to sleep on your stomach, place a flat pillow under your pelvis to prevent uncomfortable pressure on your spine.
  • Sleeping on your side can be more comfortable if you hug a large or body pillow. Chiropractors also recommend putting a pillow between your knees.


Sleeping with a new back tattoo follows the same steps as any other tattoo. Remember to avoid putting pressure on your tattoo by sleeping on the opposite sides of your body, like your stomach and sides.

Once your tattoo is a week into the healing process, you should be able to return to your normal sleeping position; however, keep up with the other sleep hygiene steps until your tattoo is fully healed.


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