Can Lack of Sleep Cause Hair Loss?
Here Are 5 Alarming Ways!
By Jacqueline Samaroo
It’s really no surprise to get a resounding “Yes!” when we ask “Can lack of sleep cause hair loss?” After all, we all know a night of solid sleep does the mind, body, and spirit a world of good. Miss out on those Zs, however, and the groggy effects will likely be felt throughout the next day.
Yes, lack of sleep, even for just one night, takes a toll on you. And, its effects become more and more concerning when you suffer from chronic (recurring and long-lasting) lack of sleep.
Here’s a look at how consistent insufficient sleep can lead to hair thinning and hair loss.
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Five ways lack of sleep can lead to hair thinning and hair loss
Your body and your brain are very active while you sleep. There are many vital processes that take place during sleep to keep your body functioning and developing as it should. One of those processes is the hair growth cycle and it is very negatively affected by chronic lack of sleep. Here are five ways that happens.
1. Lack of sleep causes stress on the body.
The resting or telogen phase of hair growth is when a strand of hair stops growing and then falls out. That is perfectly normal and it happens for different hair follicles at different times.
During times of stress, however, an excess of hairs goes into a telogen phase for extended periods of time. Why?
Our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol when we are stressed. Research shows that lack of sleep results in increased cortisol levels because of the stress not getting enough sleep places on the body. Research also shows that prolonged cortisol exposure prematurely sends hair follicles into the telogen phase.
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- 6 Reasons for Natural Hair Not Growing and Easy Ways to Remedy It
2. Lack of sleep interrupts cell regeneration.
Cell regeneration is one of the processes regulated by our circadian rhythm or sleep-wake cycle. Insufficient and irregular sleep that is neither restful nor rejuvenating can disrupt this cycle. When it does, new cell growth, cell division, and cell differentiation are also disrupted.
These processes all take place in the hair follicle, where the only living hair cells are located. (They are in the hair bulb at the base of the hair follicle, to be exact.) If the hair cells cannot develop as they should, then stunted growth and the inability to replace lost hairs will be the result.
3. Lack of sleep interferes with protein synthesis of the hair.
Each strand of hair is made up mostly of protein with the main type of protein being keratin which is synthesized in the hair follicle. The hair cells become keratinized (hardened by keratin) as they grow up and out of the scalp. They eventually die and it is these hardened dead cells that make up the hair we see on our heads.
This process of protein synthesis (building keratin from amino acids) is not carried out as efficiently as it should when we do not get the sleep our bodies need. This leaves hair weaker and more susceptible to breakage and falling out.
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4. Melatonin likely plays a role in hair growth.
Our circadian rhythm also affects the release of hormones in the body. One of those hormones is melatonin. It helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Studies suggest that insufficient sleep causes melatonin levels to decrease and that lower levels of melatonin are connected to increased hair fall.
In fact, several studies have shown that applying melatonin to the scalp can help to treat certain types of hair loss. While more conclusive studies are required to pinpoint the exact mechanisms connecting sleep, melatonin, and hair loss, what we know so far says that the connection definitely exists.
5. Chronic lack of sleep leads to impaired brain function.
Being chronically sleep-deprived affects our ability to think clearly, reason, and make sound judgments. Conscious decisions to eat properly, get sufficient exercise, and take care of our bodies are all affected, as is our ability to cope with everyday stressors.
It becomes a vicious cycle, since our diet, physical activity, self-care, and coping strategies are all linked to the health of our hair. But, if we begin to experience premature or unexplained hair loss, then that can cause us more stress, more sleeplessness, and more hair loss!
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In an upcoming article, we will look at some ways to help you get the sleep you need and keep your hair where it belongs – growing thick, strong, and healthy from your scalp. Stay tuned!
Do you have tips on how to get sufficient restful sleep? Share!