sleep and hair lossHair loss can be caused by many different factors, ranging from diet, styling and environmental conditions, to more serious medical conditions, hormone imbalance and genetic pre-dispositions. There is another factor that can cause hair loss that many people are unaware of: lack of sleep.

How much is not enough?

Experts recommend that we should try to get 8 hours sleep per night, which many people find challenging to fit around hectic schedules of work, rest and play. It has been proven that lack of sleep is a contributing factor to feeling stressed, and stress can inhibit hair growth. This means that lack of sleep can be a factor directly linked to hair loss. Your body uses sleep as its opportunity to recharge, and to stock up on electrolytes that ensure it is refreshed appropriately. If the body is deprived of sleep then it fails to undertake this essential ‘recharging’ process, and can leave itself at risk. One of the first things that is affected is the immune system, which relies upon this recharge so will become weakened. If the immune system is weakened it is more susceptible to picking up bugs, which in turn can weaken it further, so it is important to try and address sleep problems before they take a firm hold. A tell-tale sign of a weakened immune system is hair loss, as a result of hair follicles becoming too weak to sustain the hair. The hair loss process is usually gradual, but one it has taken hold it will take time to reverse, so it is important to look out for warning signs. The first visible indicators will be that hair will become less shiny and will lack volume. If you notice a change in the condition of your hair and know that you are burning the candle at both ends, try and adjust your sleep patterns to address this, as the next issue may be that some of your hair follicles become ‘dormant’, which can result in a receding hair line or loss of hair from the scalp.

What to do if you’re having difficulty sleeping

Millions of people struggle to sleep properly; it is reassuring to know that you’re not alone. There are some simple lifestyle changes that are recommended for those who can’t nod off at the end of a busy day, and these start with a proper winding down period before turning the lights out. Refraining from watching TV or using a laptop, tablet or phone with a back lit screen will help relax your brain. Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine (found commonly in drinks such as tea, coffee and cola) and cigarettes is recommended. Additionally, some people also find it is hard to sleep if they have eaten a large meal very soon before heading off to bed. Working late is also a bad habit to get into with regards to sleeping patterns, as this will mean that you’re trying to sleep shortly after your mind has been very active. Reducing external stress factors in your life, if at all possible, will also help reduce the chance of lying awake worrying. Once you have slipped into the stress/insomnia cycle it is hard to break it – you can’t sleep because you’re stressed, which in itself is stressful, which then means you can’t sleep.

Sleep is important for so many reasons

It’s not just your hair follicles that will be affected by lack of sleep; the problems can spread much further than that. Research undertaken by scientists working at the Yonsei University in South Korea have been looking into this in more depth, and have discovered that people who are regularly getting less than 6 hours per night are putting themselves at much greater risk of serious illnesses later in life. Conditions such as diabetes, heart diseases and strokes have been linked to not getting enough sleep, so it is important for your hair and more importantly your overall well-being that you try and give your body time to relax overnight and to get enough sleep.



By Ian Watson


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