Whether or not you’ve noticed more hairs in your brush than normal or have recently pulled a ginormous fur-ball out of your shower drain (yuk!), hair loss is something many people experience. You’d be forgiven for thinking that hair loss is something only men have to deal with but thinning and balding actually affects both sexes with a whopping 40% of women suffering from hair loss!
WHAT CAUSES IT?
Before you run screaming to the nearest mirror it’s important to remember that on average, we shed anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs a day without any noticeable thinning and it’s not abnormal for women to see an increase in hair shed as they age. Premature hair loss can be caused by a number of imbalances within the body think: protein deficiencies, anaemia, thyroid disease, chemotherapy, hereditary conditions, and low vitamin levels. However, one of the number one causes of hair loss can be put down to chronic stress which can impact a huge number of bodily functions like you’ve guessed it – sleep!
We’re sure we don’t need to tell you that sleep deprivation is a major form of stress if you’ve ever been through it. The time you spend asleep is the body’s natural restoration period, rehabilitating cells and repairing itself. Not getting enough sleep can disturb the body’s balance, immune system, hormone regulation as well as placing a hefty strain on our mental health. The hair growth cycle is extremely delicate and is easily affected so any changes within the body can massively impact hair health.
HOW DOES IT WORK?!
On a basic level stress is all about the release of adrenaline. When our stress levels are heightened the body releases a huge amount of adrenaline into our system that directs blood to areas of the body needed to either make a quick get away or stay and fight – the supposed ‘fight or flight’ reflex. Naturally the scalp isn’t deemed a priority in any real or perceived threatening situation and blood flow is directed to other areas of the body such as the heart or lungs. Reduced blood flow in the scalp leads to increased hair loss.
To make matters worse, sleep deprivation itself also plays a major role in damaging our immune systems. You’ve probably noticed missing out on sleep for multiple nights in a row usually leads to headaches, colds or even the flu. Lack of sleep can trigger the immune system to start to incorrectly target hair follicles, resulting in dry hair at best or at worst hair loss in patches. A lack of ZZ’s can also disrupt the body’s stem cell activity that (you’ve guessed it) only occurs during our sleep cycles. The Epithelial cells that promote hair growth specifically need the rejuvenation that sleep brings in order to function optimally.
SURELY, IT’S NOT PERMANENT?!
The good news is not always. If there’s no history of hair loss within your family, and other more serious conditions can be ruled out, odds are your hair loss is only temporary. Phew! Avoid getting sucked into claims of miracle cures from various lotions and potions on the market, the key in fact lies in addressing the underlying cause(s) of stress and getting your sleeping pattern back on track.
THE BOTTOM LINE?
We’re more stressed, anxious, under pressure and tired than ever before. Sleep for your mind, body and your hair has never been more important!