Imagine waking up to find your hair shiny, voluminous, and full of life. Sounds like a dream, right? Well, that dream can become a reality–if you practise the right sleep habits.
While we all know that sleep is crucial for overall well-being, its impact on hair health is often overlooked. Sleep is a time for your body to rest and a critical period for your hair to rejuvenate and repair.
Our scalp specialists explain the connection between sleep and healthy hair, whether lack of sleep can lead to hair loss, and give patient tips on how to create better sleep hygiene.
The Role and Connection of Sleep in Hair Growth
To understand the role of sleep in hair growth, we need to understand the basics of the hair growth cycle. The hair on your scalp goes through a continuous cycle of three phases:
- Anagen Phase: This is the active growth phase, where the hair shaft is formed from the hair follicle. It typically lasts 2-6 years, during which your hair grows about half an inch per month.
- Catagen Phase: This transitional phase lasts for a few weeks. The hair follicle shrinks, and the hair shaft stops growing.
- Telogen Phase: This is the resting phase that lasts for about 2-3 months. The hair follicle is dormant, and the hair shaft eventually falls out, making way for new hair to grow.
Now, here’s where sleep comes into the picture. During the anagen phase, the cells in the hair follicle are actively dividing and multiplying to produce the hair shaft. This process requires energy and nutrients, and during sleep, your body goes into overdrive to replenish and rejuvenate these cells.
Sleep is also when your body produces and releases growth hormones, including the human growth hormone (HGH), which is essential for cell regeneration and tissue repair. In this process, the cells in your hair follicles are also restored. HGH is primarily released during deep sleep, so proper restorative sleep is crucial for stimulating hair growth.
The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on The Body and Hair
Sleep plays an important role in hair growth – here’s how.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body’s stress response system goes into overdrive. Sleep deprivation increases the production of cortisol, a stress hormone, in your body. Chronically elevated cortisol levels can lead to inflammation, oxidative stress, and hormonal imbalances, which can negatively impact the health of your hair follicles. This can result in hair thinning, weakened hair shafts, and even hair loss.
2. Hair loss
Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to increased hair loss. Lack of sleep can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones in your body, including those that regulate hair growth. This can lead to premature hair shedding, resulting in noticeable hair loss over time. In a 2018 study, it was found that those with sleep disorders are more likely to develop alopecia areata.
3. Dry and brittle hair
Sleep deprivation can also affect your hair’s moisture levels. During sleep, your body replenishes and restores moisture to your hair, keeping it healthy and hydrated. However, lack of sleep can disrupt this process, leading to dry, brittle, and frizzy hair. Inadequate hydration can make your hair more prone to breakage and damage.
4. Scalp inflammations and infections:
Sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system, making your scalp more susceptible to inflammations and infections. Lack of sleep can also aggravate scalp conditions such as dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and fungal infections, leading to discomfort and potential damage to your hair follicles.
The effects of sleep deprivation on the body and hair are interrelated and can have long-term consequences. Therefore, prioritising good sleep hygiene is essential for hair loss prevention.
Tips on Creating Good Sleep Hygiene
1. Establish a consistent bedtime
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can help regulate your body’s internal clock and improve the quality of your sleep. Besides negatively affecting hair health, researchers have shown that irregular sleep patterns can increase your chances of heart disease and metabolic disorders. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to have a consistent sleep schedule, even on the weekends, when you might be tempted to stay up later than usual.
2. Limit screen time before bed
Do you have a habit of checking your phone and scrolling through social media apps before bed? You should avoid doing that.
Screens emit blue light, which can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Research has shown that exposure to blue light before bedtime can disrupt the circadian rhythm and negatively impact sleep quality.
3. Engage in relaxing activities
Engaging in relaxing activities before bed can help you wind down and prepare your body for sleep. A 2019 study by a group of researchers from the US National Institute of Health and Columbia University found that mindfulness meditation improved sleep quality in older adults with sleep disturbances.
Other relaxing activities you can incorporate into your bedtime routine include reading a book, taking a warm bath, listening to calming music, or practising deep breathing exercises.
4. Create a comfortable sleep environment
Your sleep environment plays a crucial role in the quality of your sleep. Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep by keeping it dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. As mentioned above, exposure to light during sleep can disrupt melatonin production, leading to poorer sleep quality.
If you live near a highway or some other noisy area, consider using earplugs, shutting the windows, or investing in a white noise machine to minimise the noise.
5. Avoid stimulants before bed
Stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol have been shown to disrupt sleep, so limiting their consumption in the hours leading to bedtime is essential.
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that can interfere with sleep by increasing alertness. It’s best to avoid caffeine-containing beverages such as coffee, tea, and energy drinks in the evening to prevent sleep disturbances. Meanwhile, nicotine increases heart rate and blood pressure, interfering with the natural sleep cycle.
As for alcohol, it may initially make you feel drowsy and fall asleep faster, but it can disrupt the normal sleep cycle, causing fragmented sleep and increasing the likelihood of you waking up during the night.
6. Adjust your diet
A healthy diet can also improve your hair health and sleep. Kiwi, for instance, is rich in vitamin C and serotonin, which support healthy hair growth and regulate your sleep cycle.
Walnuts and fatty fish, like salmon and sardines, offer omega-3 fatty acids, which promote scalp health. Milk has calcium and vitamin D, which help with melatonin production and the proper functioning of hair follicles.
Looking for a Scalp Specialist in Singapore? Contact TrichoLab today!
Practising good sleep hygiene and going on a healthy diet are good steps in improving your hair health.. However, without professional help, you may not know what the underlying problem is with your hair and if you require scalp and hair growth treatment.
At TrichoLab, we have a team of scalp specialists who can provide advice based on your lifestyle and health needs. Contact us today!