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Can Lack of Sleep Cause Hair Loss?
Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Updated on January 3, 2024

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 this article, we’ll be exploring the relationship between a good night’s sleep and hair health including tips on how to improve your sleep quality and ways to combat hair thinning.

Table of Contents

How does sleep impact overall health?

There is no denying that proper sleep is good for our bodies. It gives us time for our body to relax, repair, and prepare 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.

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

In 2019, Phillips conducted an annual survey examining 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 in this survery felt sleep had the biggest impact on their overall health:

Graph reporting the impact of sleep, diet, and exercise on adult's daily life
Image courtesy of a Phillips study conducted in 2019

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 the hair growth cycle itself [2].

Studies have shown that stem cells for hair growth depend on our body clocks [3]. 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 [4].

Can lack of sleep cause hair loss?

Poor sleep habits certainly can affect our overall health, 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 [5].

How does stress affect hair health?

Sleep deprivation is a form of stress, and stress can certainly affect hair loss.

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.

It may even trigger hair loss and exacerbate genetic hair loss condutions such as androgenic alopecia. It has been noted that poorer sleep quality reduces our amount of melatonin, though. This, in turn, could potentially cause thinning hair.

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

What are the effects of sleep deprivation on the body?

Not getting enough sleep can affect both overall 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 by 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 your immune system too.

How do I prevent hair loss from lack of sleep?

If sleep deprivation 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 habits to see if something may help you sleep better.

Lifestyle changes to improve sleep health

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.

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. 

Create a bedtime ritual

Try to improve sleep quality by eating healthily and restricting technology usage. For example, 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 poor sleep habits. 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.

For women, hair loss is often down to a combination of several different factors, with lack of sleep being just one. To find the right female hair loss treatment, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis from a professional trichologist.

Will poor sleep habits along affect the health of my hair?

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 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.

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.

Check out our hair transplant gallery to learn more about the hair restoration services we provide. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help restore your lost hair, book a consultation today.

Can Lack of Sleep Cause Hair Loss?, Wimpole Clinic

Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)Updated on January 3, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

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