Is the thought of losing your hair keeping you up at night? You may be surprised to learn that it could, in fact, be your insomnia or poor sleep patterns that are causing your hair loss.
The human growth hormone is greatly affected by lack of sleep, with research showing that lower levels of this hormone can negatively impact a man’s physical health, even resulting in thinning hair.
What causes insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that affects more than 35% of adults. While this medical condition is widely known, its symptoms manifest uniquely for each individual, with different people experiencing the condition in very distinct ways.
The symptoms of insomnia highlight the crucially important role sleep plays in the overall wellness of the human body. With the ability to negatively impact our health, in either a short term or long term capacity, it’s vital that we understand the causes behind this disorder and how we may treat them.
The circadian clock
Your internal circadian clock is located within the brain, consisting of around 20, 000 neurons, reacting and adapting to light cues from your surrounding environment.
Studies have shown that circadian rhythms follow a 24 hour cycle that creates physical, mental and behavioural changes within our bodies. It is these changes that tell our body when it is time to sleep and wake.
As these neurons receive direct input from the eyes, it’s important to create a sleeping environment that is dimly lit, either through the use of blinds or an eye mask. This lack of penetrating light tells your body that it is time for rest, naturally releasing more melatonin for a better quality of sleep.
Physical health problems
If you suffer from certain physical conditions, such as chronic pain, diabetes, cardiac disease, gastroesophageal reflux or restless leg syndrome, this may be contributing to a lack of sleep and an increased likelihood of hair loss.
Mental health disorders
Lack of sleep is commonly linked to a number of psychological issues, which pose both short and long term complications for sleep. Stressful life events, like losing a job or an upcoming exam, may cause some sleepless nights in the short term, while long term disorders, such as PTSD, diagnosed anxiety and ADHD, can lead to chronic insomnia.
While breathing may be a subconscious act to which not much attention is paid, any issues with your respiratory system can have a direct impact on the quality of your sleep cycle.
Both short term and long term health issues can affect your breathing, which may contribute to a lack of sleep, including:
Influenza or the common cold
If you’re affected by one or more of these conditions, check out our online consultation portal to discuss your concerns with one of our doctors and devise a treatment plan for better sleep and better hair health today.
We know that increased stress levels can lead to severe insomnia, but did you know that stress may also lead to sudden hair loss by impeding healthy hair growth?
Stress has the power to negatively impact all areas of the body, both physical and psychological, but it’s time to take back control of your health and eliminate the stress in your life.
Risk factors associated with insomnia
While the causes of insomnia are wide and varied, so too are the risk factors and potential health concerns associated with this impediment.
Sleep disorders can cause serious complications to both physical and mental health, such as weight gain, poor skin, severe tiredness throughout the day, higher risk of vehicular accidents, issues with erectile dysfunction, diffuse hair loss and an ongoing list of effects from sleep deprivation.
Insomnia and hair loss
Throughout some point in their lifetime, 42% of men will experience moderate to extensive hair loss. The link between insomnia and poor hair growth in males continues to strengthen, as we see an increase in late nights, television and mobile devices in the bedroom, stress-filled jobs and poor sleeping patterns.
Research shows that the human growth hormone is greatly affected by sleep deprivation. Particularly amongst men, compromised hormone levels, such as the abnormal production of androgens, greatly impacts hair growth.
Now for the good news. If you’re facing temporary thinning hair caused by insomnia, once your sleep patterns have returned to a normal range and sleep disruptions have been eliminated, you’ll be able to treat your hair to promote a healthier growth cycle – meaning it’s never been more important to focus on getting a solid 8 hours each night!
Types of hair loss
Telogen effluvium is the most common type of temporary hair loss associated with insomnia. The link between lack of sleep and increased stress is undeniable.
Elevated stress levels can lead to telogen effluvium hair loss, which disrupts the hair growth cycle. Shedding caused by telogen effluvium may appear as diffuse or patchy hair loss, occurring when hair follicles are pushed into an early resting phase, causing premature shedding to occur.
Genetic hair loss
Effecting both men and women, genetic hair loss is a naturally occurring hereditary condition. This form of hair loss is commonly known as androgenic alopecia, or male pattern baldness among men and female pattern hair loss among women. Although this is a genetic condition, sleep deprivation can lead to an early onset of hair loss.
Diffuse hair loss
Seen in both temporary and genetic hair loss conditions, diffuse thinning refers to a form of shedding that causes the hair to fall out across all areas of the scalp. As hair follicles become sparse, the appearance diminishes to a fine texture. In male pattern baldness, diffuse thinning is often first seen in a receding hairline.
How to improve the quality of your sleep and prevent hair loss
When it comes to preventing hair loss caused by sleep deprivation, treatment and management of your insomnia should be a top priority. By taking charge of your health to promote proper sleep, you’ll be helping your entire body and boosting your overall health.
Not only will getting enough sleep assist with better hair health, but it also has the potential increase brain function, regulate hormone levels, reduce the risk of heart disease and boost your immune system.
Reduce stress levels
While this is generally easier said than done, stress reduction provides countless positive improvements throughout all aspects of your mental and physical health.
There are a number of ways to access your inner calm and, as you’ll soon discover, what works for one person, won’t work for the next, so it’s important to take your time and find something that’s right for you.
Some of the top contenders in activities to reduce stress include yoga and mindfulness practices, exercise, spending time with family and friends, reading and listening to music.
Spend more time in the bedroom
Not only will this activity provide you with enjoyment, but it’s also a great workout that offers an abundance of health benefits. Regular sex can reduce health risks and promote better wellbeing, including:
Lowering high blood pressure
Helping to alleviate psychological stress
Reducing the risk of heart disease
Contributing towards better sleep (which plays an important role in healthy hair growth)
Enhance your sleep experience
Among the list of ways to decrease lack of sleep and prevent hair loss, seeking professional advice from a doctor ranks highly. While we know sleep deprivation can lead to thinning hair, an online consultation with a professional will allow you to identify any other risk factors, which may be impeding on a good night’s sleep and contributing to hair thinning.
With around 40% of Australian’s reporting inadequate sleep cycles, medical sleep treatments now offer an effective solution for improving sleep quality. Alongside these treatments, there are a number of straightforward changes you can make to your daily routine, in order to enhance your sleep experience, such as the simple measure of keeping a consistent bedtime.
Evaluate your sleeping environment
By evaluating your bedroom or sleeping environment, you will be able to effectively identify what issues or triggers may be hindering a good night’s sleep.
If your environment, for instance, is noisy, has an uncomfortable bed or even has obtrusive light in the morning, you may need to make some changes to limit your lack of sleep. While buying a mattress can be costly, smaller changes like darker blinds, a mattress topper or even a pedestal fan can help to create the optimal sleeping environment – helping you to keep that thick head of hair!
Let’s get your health sorted!
Take control of your health and start a convo with one of our doctors, with a free consultation today!
Dimitriu, A. & Suni, E. (2022). What causes insomnia? (https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/what-causes-insomnia)
Eknath, A. (2019). Suffering from Insomnia – Yoga Practice can help with Better Sleep. (https://www.nourishdoc.com/case/suffering-from-insomnia-yoga-practice-can-help-with-better-sleep)
Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School. (2019). Hereditary-Patterned Baldness. (https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/hereditary-patterned-baldness-a-to-z)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences. (2022). Circadian Rhythms. (https://www.nigms.nih.gov/education/fact-sheets/Pages/circadian-rhythms.aspx)