Perhaps you have wondered, “can lack of sleep cause hair loss?” Hair loss can be caused by a number of imbalances within the body. They include: protein deficiency, anemia, thyroid disease, chemotherapy, and low vitamin levels. At one point, almost everyone is faced with some degree of hair loss or the thinning of the hair.
Some hair loss is caused by hereditary or other incurable conditions. Other hair loss issues are more manageable. More than likely, hair loss will be due to an internal disease. Other reasons for hair loss:
- Hormone imbalances in women while pregnant
- Going through menopause
What Does Hair Loss Look Like?
Hair loss is categorized as patchy hair loss. It is a symptom of alopecia areata or small coin sized bald patches. Hair usually grows back within a few months. Patchy hair loss is also seen in:
- Traction alopecia, when hair begins to thin out from tight braids
- Trichotillomania, caused by physical pulling of the hair
- Less common infections
Diffuse hair loss is seen more in patients taking medicine that’s known to provoke hair loss. It’s also seen in people with a protein deficiency, or a disease like cancer. Diffuse hair loss can also be called Telogen Effluvium. It is described as the thinning of the hair all over the scalp.
What Causes Hair Loss?
On average, people shed anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs per day without any noticeable thinning. However, it’s not abnormal for women to see an increase in hair shed as they age.
One of the number one causes of manageable hair loss is chronic stress. Stress can be defined as a state of mental or emotional strain. The strain can result from adverse or demanding circumstances.
Stress can impact a number of bodily functions like:
- Sleeping problems
- Social withdrawal
- Muscle pain
Fortunately, there are natural solutions to help promote serotonin leading to a reduction in stress. Commonly, lack of sleep is a huge factor of chronic stress. The lack of sleep in turn causes the hair loss.
What Does Sleep Have To Do With Hair Loss?
As stated before, sleep deprivation is a form of stress and stress is a major factor in hair loss. Typically, hair loss caused by lack of sleep isn’t permanent. However, this depends on whether there is another underlying cause of the hair loss exposed by the form of stress. The time you spend asleep is the body’s natural restoration period. It restores and rehabilitates cells and other bodily functions that face stressors during the day.
Not getting enough sleep can disturb the body’s balance, immune system, hormone secretion, as well as mental vitality. Because hair is very sensitive to changes within the body, these alterations impact hair growth and health.
While some people may feel fine on 5 hours of sleep per night, others need a full 8 or 9 hours. Whether you need more sleep or not, a change in the body’s natural sleep pattern can cause mental and physical stress. So, the question remains…
Can Lack of Sleep Cause Hair Loss?
Stress tends to release adrenaline, a hormone that redirects blood away from where it’s needed for hair health. Because the scalp lacks blood flow, because it is being averted to the heart, lungs, or somewhere else within the body with a more important function, hair loss or thinning occurs. Progesterone, another hormone released under stress, can cause to hair loss.
Sleep deprivation plays a major role in damaging the immune system. If you’ve noticed, losing sleep multiple nights in a row usually leads to headaches, colds, or even the flu when in season. Lack of sleep can cause the immune system to target hair follicles, resulting in the thinning of hair and or hair loss in patches.
Losing sleep even disrupts the body’s stem cell activity that takes place during sleep. Epithelial cells promote hair growth and are one of the many cell types that need the rejuvenation sleep period to function properly. This is another reason that hair loss can be seen in those who lack the proper amount of sleep.
The National Institute of Health states that, “sleep plays a large part in hair growth.”
Adult stem cells rely on the internal circadian clock to orchestrate the proliferation of hair growth; so disruptions to the sleep cycle can have significant impact on the biological functions taking place in the hair follicle where hair growth starts.
How Permanent Is This Hair Loss?
The degree of permanence in hair loss caused by lack of sleep is dependent on if there is an underlying cause of the hair loss like disease or medication, or if the hair loss is directly correlated to the stress that not sleeping is causing on your body. Temporary conditions like Telogen Effevium can take up to 6 months to fully grow back the lost or thinned out hair.
In order to do this, you have to restore your sleep cycle fully, meaning your sleep pattern should go back to what it was before. If the hair loss lasts more than 6 months, it’s still not a sure sign of an underlying condition. Chronic Telogen Effevium is still considered a temporary condition because it’s caused by lack of sleep, a manageable, temporary stressor.
Lack of sleep can also bring out hereditary hair loss conditions earlier than they would usually come forth. Androgenic Alopecia is a form of hair loss that’s passed down through generations and is usually described as hair lost in patches. Genetically predisposed conditions are bound to come around sooner or later, but the stress quickens the process.
Patterned hair loss is progressive and usually results in the thinning of women’s hair and patterned baldness in men, but can become a hasty process when paired with stress. Hair loss caused by these types of conditions can be permanent. It’s important to identify the root cause of your hair loss to be able to treat it effectively.
How To Treat Temporary Hair Loss
If there is no history of hair loss within your family, and other more serious conditions can be ruled out, odds are your hair loss will be temporary. The best way to treat this type of hair loss is to get your sleeping pattern back on track. In order to do this, lighten your stress load, avoid taking mid-day naps, exercise more during the day, and make sure to set a strict bedtime.
If you can keep yourself active throughout the day, you’ll have an easier time falling asleep at night and should in turn stay asleep until the morning. Make sure to identify any other stressors in your life, because lack of sleep may only be the tip of the iceberg. Lighten your workload if possible, take time off from work, and solve problems causing you emotional stress.
Also, if you’ve been trying to cover up the temporary hair loss, research the products before use to see if they’ll aid in the long-term goal of growing back your hair. Sometimes hair product provides short-term relief, but actually does more damage than good.
Use products like rosemary shampoo, sunflower oil, cranberry seed oil, and biotin. Chemicals, heating tools, and overuse of product can all contribute to the hair loss or thinning and play a role in the slow progression of it growing back.
The bottom line, can lack of sleep cause hair loss? Yes, but now you know what to do about it.