Sleep more, eat less junk food and avoid hair loss seems an unlikely equation, but it’s a theory that holds water according to new research from the Michigan State University and the University of Illinois.
Researchers found that when people have a bad day at work, they tend bring their moods home with them, and their inclination towards eating junk food and/or too much food increases. Conversely, if they had a good sleep the night before, this desire to leap for the burgers and the biscuits diminishes.
So how does this relate to hair loss? The answer is that a good night’s sleep seems to reduce stress levels that would otherwise occur the next day. And stress is known to contribute to, or even be the actual cause of thinning hair.
Thinning hair caused by biological response
Stress-related hair loss can happen in one of two ways, and is basically a biological response to the body feeling under attack. When people present to a specialist clinic with a condition named Telogen Effluvium, part of the ensuing conversation involves questions about a client’s lifestyle and what happened three months prior to the initial signs of hair loss. This is because Telogen Effluvium is triggered by some kind of event or imbalance that causes a strain on the system, whether physical or emotional. Often this is a dramatic change in diet or a brutal new exercise regime, but it can also be new medication, child-birth and – commonly – stress.
Telogen Effluvium treatment, therefore, begins with an attempt to understand the underlying cause of the hair thinning, which usually happens across the whole of the scalp. Topical applications of high strength minoxidil paired with additional hair growth boosters where needed, can help to speed up recovery, which otherwise takes around six months when no intervention is sought.
Not always is this the case, however, and when Telogen Effluvium lingers for more than 12 months it is considered to be a different condition named Chronic Telogen Effluvium, or Diffuse Hair Loss. This, too, can be dealt with, and treatment for Diffuse Hair Loss – which follows the same lines as it does for Telogen Effluvium – is often very effective.
The other condition that stress can initiate or make worse is androgenetic alopecia – hereditary hair loss. People who have an active “balding gene” and whose shedding is inevitable sooner or later (unless they take steps to prevent balding), can develop early-onset hair loss triggered by stress.
The two conditions genetic thinning causes are male pattern baldness in men and female pattern hair loss in women. There are clinically-proven hair loss treatments for both and in cases where both genetic hair loss and temporary all-over thinning is present, both can be treated simultaneously. Belgravia takes a personalised approach to tailoring courses to the needs of each individual client, helping them to stop shedding and encourage new hair growth.
The other downside of over-eating and an inclination to gorge on “bad” foods is that this practice comes with a heightened risk of obesity, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes. This, too, hikes the risk of hairloss.
High workloads and rude customers
The Michigan study involved 235 workers in China, some of whom were IT employees who regularly experienced high workloads and felt there was never enough time in their day to get everything done. The other cohort was call-centre staff who often experienced work-related stress from having to deal with rude customers.
Yihao Liu, co-author and assistant professor at the University of Illinois, said that the study proposed two potential explanations: “First, eating is sometimes used as an activity to relieve and regulate one’s negative mood, because individuals instinctually avoid aversive feelings and approach desire feelings,” he said. “Second, unhealthy eating can also be a consequence of diminished self-control. When feeling stressed out by work, individuals usually experience inadequacy in exerting effective control over their cognitions and behaviours to be aligned with personal goals and social norms.”
To address the problem, the researchers propose that companies should consider sleep-awareness training and flexible scheduling. Employers should also reconsider the value of food-related job perks, they said.
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.