Everyone knows that a regular sleep schedule with adequate hours is good for your mental and physical health. But, what most people don’t know is that skimping on your Zzzs can possible take a toll on your hair, too.
Below, we will cover the potential consequences of not getting enough sleep for your hair, review the 5 ways that inadequate rest can impact your hair, address if a lack of sleep can directly cause hair loss, and look into if fixing your sleep schedule will lead to hair improvements.
Having to pull an all-nighter for a big deadline or exam, or having to wake up at 3 am to catch that flight every once in a while may leave you feeling drowsy, but it is highly unlikely that the occasional incidence of poor sleep will immediately lead to hair issues.
However, if bad or short sleep becomes the norm in your life, it is possible that you start noticing negative effects on your hair (as well as your mood, energy levels, skin, the list goes on…).
Inadequate sleep may lead to some people noticing slowed growth, your hair looking more brittle or less healthy, hair thinning, or even an excess shedding of hair.
Some level of stress is a fact of life, but when stress becomes pervasive or overwhelming, it could lead to states of excess hair shedding.
Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss that manifests from states of intense mental or physical stress. This may include childbirth, a divorce, extreme illness, rapid weight loss, or even chronic poor sleep. Luckily, with telogen effluvium, once the stressor is removed or corrected, hair is likely to return to its normal state (unless other types of hair loss are also occurring, like genetic hair loss).
Even if telogen effluvium excess shedding does not occur, stress has been found to induce slowed hair growth from the hair follicle.
Stem cells are present in hair follicles and their job is to divide and create new undifferentiated cells to eventually maintain the follicle and grow hair. Circadian rhythms have been found to impact stem cells significantly, with them functioning better when circadian rhythms are regular and optimal. If this balance is thrown off by poor or irregular sleep patterns, your follicular stem cells may not be able to function as well as if your circadian rhythms were optimized.
Melatonin is a hormone known to many as your sleep hormone. And, this important hormone is produced in relation to your circadian rhythms and the light/dark cycles in your environment. Melatonin also plays a role in hair health including hair growth, hair color, and the regulation of the hair growth cycles. Poorly timed, irregular, or shortened sleep cycles can reduce melatonin production or increase its breakdown, limiting or preventing the positive effects this hormone can have on your hair.
Your hair is mainly made up of a protein called keratin, so optimal hair growth and health are dependent upon the ability of your hair follicles to synthesize this protein to build on growing strands. One study done on men’s beard growth show that just 48 hours of sleep deprivation led to reduced protein synthesis and slowed beard growth by 19%.
This aspect of lack of sleep and hair health is indirect, but may still be important to consider in some cases. When you are exhausted or burning the candle at both ends, it is likely that your self-care routines may take a backseat -- including your hair care. Exhaustion or stress may cause you to skip regular hair trims, miss those weekly deep conditioning sessions, or even go a few days too long scrubbing our scalp clean from buildup. Forgoing regular hair care too often may lead to declines in hair health overall, and may cause you to notice negative changes in how your hair looks or growth.
It is possible that a chronic lack of sleep or a regular sleep pattern can cause negative hair health consequences including slowed growth or even increased shedding.
This may come in the form of rapid shedding from increased stress through telogen effluvium, general decreased growth from circadian rhythm disruption, decreased melatonin production, less protein synthesis, or even exacerbated hereditary hair loss. A chronic lack of sleep may even lead you to skip regular hair care measures and show up as decreased hair health and appearance.
If your hair loss or thinning is entirely due to a long-term lack of sleep that led to worsening hair health or telogen effluvium, correcting your sleep schedule and length of sleep may improve your hair loss, slowed growth, or thinning.
However, most cases of hair loss are not due to lack of sleep, but due to hereditary forms of hair loss like male pattern hair loss and female pattern hair loss (also known as androgenetic alopecia). These genetic forms of hair loss can definitely be sped up or worsened if poor sleep patterns exist. But, they will still remain even if your sleep schedule improves. So, your hair may get slightly better by fixing your sleep if that was part of the cause, but you will still have androgenetic alopecia which tends to progress over time.
Getting adequate sleep is definitely a step in the right direction to overall health, and may even improve your hair health for some people. But, if you are dealing with genetic patterned hair loss, just fixing your sleep habits will not be enough to improve hereditary hair loss.
If you are looking for ways to help slow the progression of hair loss from male pattern or female pattern hair loss, a prescription medication may be able to help. Hereditary hair loss ultimately occurs due to a genetic sensitivity to the hormone DHT, which is produced in your body from some of your natural testosterone. Certain medications like Finasteride, Dutasteride, and Spironolactone may be able to reduce the production of DHT and help you get control of hereditary hair loss.
At Strut, we offer oral and topical DHT-reducing medications, many of which can be customized to contain multiple active ingredients in strengths that suit your particular needs. These are prescription-only treatments, so if you are interested in seeing if a prescription option is a good fit for you, you can have a free online questionnaire and image-based telemedicine consultation with our U.S. licensed doctors today. Simply choose the product you are considering and complete the questionnaire and check-out process.
If you are a good candidate for treatment with your selected formula, your medication will be shipped to your front door with our free shipping. If you are not a good fit for a prescription treatment, you will not be charged and a doctor will reach out to you to let you know why this may not be the right choice for you (and what may be a better route).