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Can A Lack of Sleep Cause Hair Loss?

    Quick Summary: Sleep & Hair Health

    – Sleep’s Role: Adequate sleep is crucial for hair health, supporting repair and regeneration processes important for hair follicle growth.

    – Research Insights: Studies link sleep deprivation with increased risk of alopecia areata, highlighting poor sleep’s impact on hair loss.

    – Stress Connection: Long term lack of sleep elevates cortisol, a stress hormone that can lead to hair thinning and shedding.

    – Improving Sleep: Enhancing sleep quality through consistent routines and stress-reduction techniques can support hair health.

    – Professional Guidance: Consulting healthcare professionals for hair loss concerns ensures tailored advice and treatment options, addressing both sleep and hair health issues.

    In today’s fast-paced world, many of us prioritise work, social obligations, and screen time over getting enough rest. But could our lack of sleep be contributing to hair loss?

    In this article, we’ll explore the intricate relationship between sleep deprivation and hair loss, backed by scientific evidence. We’ll delve into the mechanisms behind how lack of sleep affects hair health, discuss the potential consequences of chronic sleep deprivation, and offer practical tips for improving sleep quality to promote healthy hair growth.

    can lack of sleep cause hair loss

    The role of sleep in hair health

    Quality sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being. This importance extends to hair health as well.
    During sleep, the body undergoes essential repair and regeneration processes, including those related to hair follicles. Disruption of the sleep cycle can interfere with these processes, potentially affecting the hair growth cycle and leading to hair loss1. Additionally, inadequate sleep can impair blood circulation to the scalp, depriving hair follicles of essential nutrients and oxygen needed for healthy growth.

    Research highlights on sleep and hair health

    Recent research underscores the link between sleep quality and hair loss. Here’s a simplified overview: 

    • A 2022 study found a strong link between severe alopecia areata (a type of patchy hair loss) and sleep issues, including less than six hours of sleep, high stress scores, and obstructive sleep apnea2.
    • Research comparing 51 alopecia areata patients to controls highlighted hair loss amongst those with significantly poorer sleep. Additionally, alopecia areata patients with anxiety or depression experienced worse sleep quality, emphasising the importance of addressing both sleep and mental health in managing alopecia areata3
    • A larger study involving over 25,000 individuals showed that those with sleep disorders were at a higher risk of developing alopecia areata. This underlines the importance of good sleep habits and addressing sleep disorders in preventing hair loss3.

    The link between stress, sleep and hair loss

    Stress is a common consequence of sleep deprivation and can exacerbate hair loss.
    Chronic stress triggers an inflammatory response in the body, which can lead to conditions like telogen effluvium, characterised by excessive shedding of hair. Stress-induced hair loss can further compound the effects of sleep deprivation on hair health4.

    Research also suggests that chronic sleep deprivation can disrupt hormonal balance and increase levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels can contribute to hair thinning and shedding by disrupting the hair growth cycle5

    Cortisol is a hormone produced in response to stress that plays a significant role in various neuropsychiatric diseases and sleep disorders6. Recent research has highlighted the use of hair cortisol concentration as a promising biomarker for assessing long-term stress levels, making it a useful tool for studying cortisol alterations in individuals with sleep disorders7.
    Given that a lack of sleep is a common cause of stress and disrupts the body’s cortisol balance, it stands to reason that poor sleep may impact cortisol levels detected in hair samples and thus hair health itself. Therefore, understanding the relationship between cortisol levels and sleep disturbances through hair analysis can shed light on how lack of sleep may affect overall hair health.

    Practical tips for improving sleep quality

    Fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve sleep quality and mitigate the risk of hair loss associated with sleep deprivation. Establishing a consistent sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and optimising your sleep environment can help promote restful sleep8. Additionally, practising stress-reducing techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga can help alleviate the effects of chronic stress on hair health9.

    Seeking professional advice

    If you’re experiencing hair loss or have concerns about the impact of sleep deprivation on your hair health, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional. A dermatologist or trichologist can assess your scalp and hair health, identify any underlying issues contributing to hair loss, and recommend appropriate treatments or interventions10. This may include taking medications like Minoxidil or undergoing a hair transplant where you have lost hair that cannot be regrown.


    The connection between lack of sleep and hair loss is multifaceted, with chronic sleep deprivation potentially disrupting the hair growth cycle and exacerbating hair thinning and shedding. By prioritising quality sleep and implementing stress-reducing techniques, you can support healthy hair growth and overall well-being. If you’re experiencing hair loss or sleep disturbances, please do not hesitate to seek professional advice for personalised guidance and treatment options.


    1. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. Available at: Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (
    2. Yi, Y., Qiu, J., Jia, J., Djakaya, G.D.N., Li, X., Fu, J., Chen, Y., Chen, Q., Miao, Y. & Hu, Z. (2020) ‘Severity of androgenetic alopecia associated with poor sleeping habits and carnivorous eating and junk food consumption—A web‐based investigation of male pattern hair loss in China’, Dermatologic Therapy, 33(2), pp. e13273-n/a. Available at:
    3. Shakoei, S., Torabimirzaee, A., Saffarian, Z. & Abedini, R. (2022) ‘Sleep disturbance in alopecia areata: A cross‐sectional study’, Health Science Reports, 5(3), pp. e576-n/a. Available at:
    4. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Telogen Effluvium. Available at: Do you have hair loss or hair shedding? (
    5. Altemus, M., Rao, B., Dhabhar, F. S., Ding, W., Granstein, R. D. (2001) ‘Stress-induced changes in skin barrier function in healthy women’, Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 117(2), pp. 309-317. Available at:
    6. Thom, E. (2016) ‘Stress and the hair growth cycle: Cortisol-Induced hair growth disruption’, Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, 15(8), pp. 1001-1004. Available at:
    7. El Mlili, N., Ahabrach, H. & Cauli, O. (2021) ‘Hair cortisol concentration as a biomarker of sleep quality and related disorders’, Life (Basel, Switzerland), 11(2), pp. 81. Available at:
    8. National Sleep Foundation. Sleep Hygiene. Available at: Mastering Sleep Hygiene: Your Path to Quality Sleep | Sleep Foundation
    9. Harvard Health Publishing. Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response. Available at: Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response – Harvard Health
    10. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Hair loss: Diagnosis and treatment. Available at: Hair loss: Diagnosis and treatment (

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