How to Take the Ultimate Sleep Selfie

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Of all the different selfie angles to attempt, there is one that is harder to do well than the others: The sleep selfie. A good sleep selfie looks cute, cozy, and adorable. A bad one is just so cringey.

You must have seen those #sleepselfies where an amateur posts the caption “bae caught me napping,” except you can see their hand reflected in the mirror behind them. Or they’ve got a full face of makeup on, and it's clearly the middle of the day on a Tuesday. *shudders*

It’s enough to make you never want to attempt the sleeping selfie. And we don’t blame you. However, one look at the comfy pillows, soft blankets, and serene smiles, and you’d be forgiven for wanting to have a go yourself. And if you can nail it, it’s one of the cutest trends there is.

sleep selfie half face eyes closed under covers

However, proceed with caution to avoid taking a truly embarrassing picture. To assist you, we’ve compiled the best advice there is to make sure you look cute in your sleep selfies, rather than cringey.

1) Check for mirrors

The number one cardinal rule of a sleepy selfie is this: DO NOT HAVE A MIRROR IN THE BACKGROUND. You can style an awesome sleeping pose photo, but if a mirror in the back shows how awkwardly you have to twist your arm to get the shot, the whole effect is ruined (and a mirror selfie is decidedly not what you are going for here).

And it’s not just mirrors you’ve got to look out for. Any reflective surface like a glass window or a TV screen will betray you.

While you have a look around, check for anything else that will ruin the vibe. This might mean you’ve got to clean a bit, but I promise it's worth it. Old food wrappers, dirty laundry, a used mug, and a messy bedroom are all things that will turn your sleep selfie into a joke.

2) Don’t go OTT

You’re supposed to be sleepy. I know every lady in every film ever looks like a princess when she wakes up, but in reality, no one looks like that first thing in the morning or last thing at night. This means that if you take a sleepy, relaxed selfie with a full face of makeup and a fully styled hair literally shouts "THIS IS FAKE." People just won't buy into the cute vibe if it’s too carefully crafted.

If you really have to wear makeup, go for a natural look: clear mascara, and a bit of concealer. For your hair, no elaborate curls or styles; messy and carefree is the vibe you need. If you want a more subtle look, try taking a picture without makeup and then using digital touch-ups to give a natural glow. Facetune’s smooth and conceal functions are great for easy selfie editing.

sleep selfie eyes closed full face covers

3) Pay attention to lighting

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good mid-afternoon nap, but it isn’t always the kinda vibe I want to promote. I don’t spend ALL day in bed. Honestly, I don’t. Sometimes it’s cool to post a photo from bed in the middle of the day, like the day after a big party, the day after graduation, or a rainy Sunday. But it just feels better to post a sleepy selfie either first thing in the morning or in the evening.

The issue is that this gives you really dodgy lighting to work with. That dull bedroom light can create weird shadows that make you look like you haven’t seen the sun since 2004. To avoid this less-than-cute aesthetic, you’ve got to plan your lighting in advance.

Choose a warm-colored light bulb to mimic the soft golden hour glow. Make sure you position the light so it's not creating any strange shadows. If you don’t have a warm light on hand, grab your laptop and search for the color orange. On the image results page your laptop will project this color giving your photos the same glow as an actual lightbulb.

4) Plan your bedding

This is a big one. There is almost nothing worse than seeing a picture of someone’s bed and noticing a few stains or crumbs. Believe me when I say, no one will be looking at your face if you’ve got dirty bedding. It’s the equivalent of taking a mirror selfie with a dirty mirror – very 2012.

We’ve moved on since then. Crisp, clean bedding is the new thing. Whether it’s a blanket on the sofa, a cushion cover, a bedsheet, or your pajamas, make sure they are stain-free. We don’t need to see the pizza crumbs from last Friday, or the evidence of last night’s midnight ice cream snack. Wash the bed so the focus will be on your face.

5) Set yourself up

You’ve checked your background for mirrors, so hopefully you won’t be caught showing exactly how you twisted your arm to get the best angle...  unless, of course, the grimace on your face gives you away.

It might be quicker to just grab your phone and start snapping, but you’ll regret it in the long run. You need to set up your camera correctly. Find the angle you want, or find several angles. Take some practice shots to get everything right. Don’t expect it to be great on the first try; this is one of the hardest selfies to master.

If you want to speed up the process, you can buy a Bluetooth button, which will allow you to retake photos without getting up and going over to your phone. The controller can be hidden in your hand so it won’t ruin the sleep selfie effect.

That’s it! If you can get these things right, there’s no reason why you can’t take a subtle sleeping selfie without embarrassing yourself. Good luck!

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