Scientists in California have found that people who don’t get enough sleep could see an increase in their chances of contracting diabetes, which has multiple links to various hair loss conditions.
The scientists, who are based at the University of California in San Francisco, discovered that people who had less than five hours of sleep per night drank 21 per cent more fizzy drinks than those who slept seven to eight hours. Their findings led to something of a chicken-and-egg-type conundrum: is it the case that fizzy drinks are stopping people from sleeping well, or are people who don’t sleep well reaching for more Cokes, Fantas and Sprites because they’re more inclined to want something to give them a bit of a boost?
Sugary diet blamed
The study involved 18,000 adults and naturally raises questions about how lack of sleep (and reaching for a can of soda) may be partly to blame for the global hike in type 2 diabetes, as a sugary diet is often blamed as a factor. But how does all this translate to hair loss?
In terms of diabetes, the link is pretty straightforward: diabetes can cause temporary hair loss because it puts the body under enormous physical strain and the hair growth cycle can suffer. This is most often diagnosed as the temporary condition Telogen Effluvium – which can be treated at a specialist hair loss clinic. It is worth remembering that some medications can also “knock the body for six” and cause temporary hair loss for a period while the body adjusts to the new drugs, too.
Another way that lack of sleep could be causing hair loss is because it can lead to stress. We all know how ratty and irritable we can become when we miss out on vital sleep; the long-term effects of this can easily lead to stress, which is also one of the causes of Telogen Effluvium, a condition which manifests itself as a generalised, all-over thinning. This tends to last for no longer than six months.
Stress and Telogen Effluvium are also both tied to the inherited condition Androgenetic Alopecia, which is far more widespread. Both Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss can be triggered or exacerbated by each of these factors in people with an active genetic predisposition to these common hair loss conditions.
These cause hair thinning – and sometimes a receding hairline in men – around the top of the head only. In men this tends to be confined to specific areas – such as a thinning crown – whereas the hairloss is spread more evenly across the top of the scalp in women, though they can also notice increased shedding at the temples. In both cases there are clinically-proven hair loss treatments available to prevent further shedding and promote regrowth.
Direct effect on hair
A third reason that hair could be suffering because of lack of sleep is that drinking fizzy drinks – which the Californian study shows many poor-sleepers clearly are – can have a direct effect on the hair, irrespective of diabetes.
Sugar has been associated with thinning hair by a variety of scientists, including the Medical Director of the global Harklinikken, who said that a rapid glucose spike in the blood causes “an overreaction by several hormones, most notably insulin and steroids” which, he said, can result in a roller coaster of sugar peaks and valleys that cause chemical fluctuations which can lead to thinning hair.
By viewing the body holistically, it can seem less surprising that hair can react badly to everything from lack of sleep to bad food to smoking, drugs and alcohol. Hair loss experts at Belgravia take take lifestyle factors into account when examining the hair and scalp and can advise as to any bad habits that may be having a negative effect. So, whatever the hair loss condition, a full assessment and professional diagnosis is always the best way to start.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.