When you get a new piercing, it’s important to keep the stud in so that the new hole doesn’t close up. This means you’ll need to keep your earrings in at all times — including when you sleep.

But these rules don’t apply to older piercings. Sleeping with earrings in can sometimes be harmful, depending on the type and size of the earrings. In the worst-case scenario, you may even need to see a doctor.

If you’ve slept with earrings before without any side effects, this doesn’t mean you should repeat this habit in the future. Read on to learn why it’s important to take your earrings out every night before bed, and why there’s an exception to the rule with new piercings.

The general rule of thumb is to avoid sleeping in earrings, with one exception: when you get a new piercing. You’ll need to keep these small studs in for 6 weeks or longer, or until your piercer gives you the OK.

But if your piercings are older, avoid wearing earrings made with nickel overnight, as well as large hoops and dangle or drop-style earrings. These could increase your risk of painful side effects.

Below are some common but serious side effects associated with sleeping in earrings.

Torn skin

During sleep, your earrings can get caught on your bedding or hair. As you move around, you could risk tearing your earlobe. Large earrings, as well as styles with openings like hoops and dangles, can further increase this risk.


If you wake up with frequent headaches, wearing your earrings overnight could be to blame. You may be at an increased risk if you sleep on your side, as the earring can press against the side of your head and cause discomfort.

Try sleeping without earrings to see if your headaches improve. Since you must leave studs in if you have new ear piercings, you can try sleeping on your back instead to help ease your headaches.


Wearing the same earrings for a long time without cleaning the piercing can cause bacteria to become trapped. This may lead to an infection. Signs of an infection include:

  • redness
  • swelling
  • pain
  • pus

Allergic reactions

Sleeping in certain earrings could also increase your risk of an allergic reaction to nickel. Nickel is commonly used in costume jewelry. It’s also a common allergy: Nearly 30 percent of people who wear earrings have this sensitivity.

Repeated wear of nickel-based jewelry can cause red, itchy rashes, and sleeping in these earrings overnight could also increase your risk of developing eczema around your ears.

The best way to avoid nickel allergies is to wear earrings made from surgical steel, sterling silver, or at least 18-karat gold. Earrings used for new piercings will include one of these hypoallergenic materials, so you won’t have to worry about an overnight nickel reaction when you first get your ears pierced.

The only time it’s safe to purposely sleep in your earrings is if you’re wearing the studs from a new piercing.

Studs may not pose as much risk as other types of earrings, but it’s still possible that hair, clothing, and fabrics from your bedding could wrap around these earrings and cause issues.

To decrease this risk, ask your piercer to use flat studs, as opposed to those with jewels and other jagged edges.

New piercings can also be difficult to sleep in, especially for side sleepers. While your piercing heals, you can help minimize discomfort by sleeping on your back instead of your side.

New piercings are made with professional-grade materials that are hypoallergenic, so you can safely leave them in for several weeks as the piercing heals.

You shouldn’t take out new piercings — even at night — because the holes can close up. If this happens, you’ll have to wait several more weeks for the skin to heal until you can get the area re-pierced.

You’ll also want to avoid twisting and playing with the jewelry to reduce your risk of irritation and infection. Only touch the jewelry when you’re cleaning the area, and make sure you wash your hands first.

Your piercer will likely recommend that you wait at least 6 weeks before taking out your original stud earrings. You may want to make an appointment with them so that they can make sure the holes have healed up properly.

In addition to waiting until the right time to take out your earrings, you should also follow your piercer’s aftercare instructions.

They’ll likely recommend that you clean the skin around the studs two to three times per day with a saline solution or gentle soap and water.

If you follow the aftercare instructions recommend by your piercer, sleeping in new ear piercings shouldn’t cause any issues.

Slight bleeding is considered normal with new piercings, but these symptoms shouldn’t last for more than a few days.

Call your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms after sleeping with earrings:

  • redness that’s accompanied by a rash that doesn’t improve
  • swelling that grows and continues to worsen
  • any discharge coming from the piercing
  • tears in or around the piercing itself
  • headaches or ear irritation that doesn’t go away

The ears are one of the most popular sites for piercings. However, this doesn’t mean that ear piercings are 100 percent free of risks or side effects. It’s important to take care of your piercings — both new and old.

Such care also includes knowing when to take out your earrings. The studs used for new piercings are designed to hold up in your sleep. But if you have older piercings, it’s best to avoid sleeping in your earrings.