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Can Lack of Sleep Cause Hair Loss?
Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Updated on September 21, 2022

With roughly 62% of adults worldwide suffering from lack of sleep, there are many people whose health is being negatively impacted. [1]

Professionals and individuals have long discussed the connection between a lack of sleep and hair loss. It is well known that sleep deprivation is detrimental to health, but is hair loss one of the many results of prolonged lack of sleep?

In 2019, Phillips conducted an annual survey that looked at sleep attitudes, perceptions and behaviours in 12 countries:  the U.S., France, Germany, Japan, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Singapore, South Korea, Australia and the Netherlands. 50% of 11,006 respondents felt sleep had the biggest impact on their overall health:

Can Lack of Sleep Cause Hair Loss?, Wimpole Clinic
Image courtesy of a Phillips study conducted in 2019



There is no denying that sleep is good for our bodies. It gives time for our body to relax and repair, ready for the morning. When we don’t get enough sleep, the stress hormone called cortisone is released. Stress is not good for us either, and stress can cause hair loss.

The less you sleep, the more stressed you may get. It seems that lack of sleep can certainly cause stress-induced hair loss. However, it also appears that it can disrupt hair growth itself [2]. 

Studies have shown that stem cells for hair growth depend on our body clocks. Our body clocks will be thrown out of sync if we do not sleep well. Thus a prolonged lack of restful sleep will have a negative impact on our physical health.

Can Lack Of Sleep Cause Hair Loss?

It certainly can affect our hair, and hair loss can occur when we suffer from a lack of sleep. A Korean study from 2002 to 2013 looked into the effects of sleep disorders on hair loss. They found that patients with a sleep disorder were at a much higher risk of alopecia areata than those without [3].

Stress and tension are likely to impact hair loss directly, and both of these can be caused by lack of sleep. With our bodies repairing and changing during sleep, a lack of it means our bodies aren’t given time to make these repairs.

Stress can have many adverse effects on our bodies. One of them is that the skin will start lacking the capacity to function correctly. If our skin isn’t working correctly, our hair follicles can be affected. Sleep is essential for the protein synthesis of our hair, and without it, it cannot do this.

Can lack of sleep cause hair loss? Sleep deprivation is a form of stress, and stress can certainly affect hair loss. 

It may even trigger hair loss and exacerbate genetically influenced types such as androgenic alopecia. It has been noted that poor sleep reduces our amount of melatonin, though. This, in turn, could potentially cause hair loss.

Some studies suggest that melatonin can halt hair loss in some cases and encourage growth in others.

What Else Does Lack Of Sleep Cause?

A lack of sleep can affect both health and appearance. As well as hair loss, you might also find that a lack of sleep gives you an oily scalp and greasy hair. 

Your appearance will undoubtedly be affected with dark circles under your eyes, dullness and maybe even an acne breakout. Those suffering from lack of sleep may even see some skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis flare-up.

Sleep deprivation can put people at higher risk of several severe conditions too. Diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure can all be affected by a lack of sleep. It can also weaken immune systems too.

How Do I Prevent Hair Loss From Lack Of Sleep?

If lack of sleep is the cause of your hair loss, there are many ways you can try to prevent it. An adequate amount of sleep is ideal but not always possible. Thus it is worth speaking to a doctor about your sleep problems to see if something may help you sleep better.

A regular sleep routine of 7-8 hours is perfect for helping to manage our cortisol levels. There are a few other things people can try to improve their sleep. Some simple lifestyle changes may be the key. Eating a proper diet and avoiding caffeinated drinks can help.

It can also help keep rooms dark and limit the use of electronics after a certain period. Taking some time to relax before bed is a great way to reduce stress and sleep better.

Will My Hair Grow Back If My Sleep Improves?

Hair loss caused by lack of sleep should only be temporary. Once sleep improves and cortisol levels are restored, our bodies will function normally again. Sleeping more will not help with hair regrowth but may reduce further hair loss.

There are ways to help hair regrow after loss caused by sleep deprivation. Try to improve sleep quality by eating healthily and restricting technology usage. 

However, if hair loss continues, speak to a professional who will help you discover the potential cause. They should be able to analyse the situation and find any underlying conditions that may be causing it.

Conclusion

The answer to the question “can lack of sleep cause hair loss” is, yes, it can have an effect. There is evidence to suggest it plays a role. However, it is clear to see that stress itself is a cause. 

More research needs to be done to see what effects sleep has on hair loss and growth. With plenty of studies finding that lack of rest stops hair from growing properly, it would help to know more.

There are various ways to prevent or reduce hair loss due to lack of sleep. A few simple changes to your lifestyle can be very beneficial. Hair quality and shedding can easily be improved by changing sleeping patterns, evening eating habits, and alcohol consumption. Learn more about the link between alcohol and hair loss.

However, there may be many reasons for hair loss. If hair loss persists, it is advisable to speak to a professional about your options.

The Wimpole Clinic offers advice and will guide you through the process. Should you need a treatment, they offer both FUE and FUT hair transplants alongside several other therapies.

Sources:

  1. The global pursuit of better sleep health
  2. Stress and the Hair Follicle
  3. The risk of alopecia areata and other related autoimmune diseases in patients with sleep disorders: a Korean population-based retrospective cohort study
Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)Updated on September 21, 2022
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.
Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Updated on September 21, 2022

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