Hair loss is a common issue that affects millions of people worldwide. While it’s often attributed to genetics, aging, or hormonal imbalances, another lesser-known factor that could contribute to your thinning locks is adrenal fatigue. In this article, we’ll explore the connection between hair loss and adrenal fatigue and discuss why a good night’s sleep might be the most effective treatment you’re overlooking.

Help Hair Australia Blog Hair Loss and Adrenal Fatigue Why Sleep Could Be Your Best Medicine











What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms such as fatigue, body aches, and sleep disturbances, often triggered by prolonged stress or chronic illnesses. The adrenal glands, located above your kidneys, produce hormones like cortisol that help your body respond to stress. When these glands are overworked, they may not produce enough hormones, leading to symptoms like fatigue and, in some cases, hair loss.

The Connection Between Hair Loss and Adrenal Fatigue

The adrenal glands produce a variety of hormones that are essential for bodily functions, including hair growth. When the adrenal glands are fatigued, they may produce less of these vital hormones, leading to an imbalance. Hormonal imbalances can disrupt the natural hair growth cycle, causing hair to fall out more than usual.

According to Dr. James Wilson, an expert in adrenal fatigue, “When your adrenal glands are fatigued, the ability of the glands to produce optimal levels of hormones diminishes, which can lead to a variety of symptoms, including hair loss”.

The Role of Cortisol and Stress

Another hormone produced by the adrenal glands is cortisol. Elevated levels of cortisol can significantly disrupt the natural growth cycle of hair follicles. According to a study published in PubMed, high cortisol levels reduce the synthesis of essential skin elements like hyaluronan and proteoglycans by approximately 40%, leading to weaker hair follicles and increased hair loss. Managing stress and regulating cortisol production could be key strategies in preventing and treating hair loss.

Recent research from Harvard University has shed light on the biological mechanisms through which chronic stress affects hair follicles. The study, published in the journal Nature, found that elevated levels of corticosterone, a major stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands, can put hair follicle stem cells into an extended resting phase. This prevents the regeneration of the hair follicle and the hair itself, leading to hair loss. The researchers also discovered that removing the source of stress hormones could significantly shorten the resting phase of the stem cells, promoting hair growth even in older subjects. This study underscores the importance of managing stress and cortisol levels to maintain a healthy hair head.

Dr Jennifer Martinick, Medical Director of Martinick Hair Restoration and a Fellow of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (FISHRS), says that stress can worsen certain types of hair loss. She points out that many men, especially those over 35, often think their hair loss is just due to ageing, but that’s not always the case. This further underscores the importance of managing stress and adrenal health for maintaining a full head of hair.

“That’s why it’s crucial to talk to a doctor who specialises in hair loss. They’ll ask about your family history, how long you’ve been losing hair, and even if you’ve been stressed or had any major life changes recently. Based on your situation, the doctor might suggest different treatments, which could range from changing your lifestyle to reduce stress to taking medication or even going to counselling,” says Dr Martinick.

Related Article: Stress Can Turn Hair Grey — And It’s Reversible, Researchers Find

Why Sleep Could Be a Beneficial Option

  • Potential for Restoring Hormonal Balance. While more research is needed, some evidence suggests that adequate sleep may help in restoring hormonal balance, including the hormones produced by the adrenal glands. This could potentially support healthier hair growth.
  • May Help in Reducing Stress. Lack of sleep is known to contribute to stress, which is a significant factor in both adrenal fatigue and hair loss. Quality sleep may help reduce stress levels, potentially relieving your adrenal glands.
  • Could Improve Immune Function. Sleep is considered essential for a healthy immune system. A stronger immune system might help fight off infections that could exacerbate symptoms of adrenal fatigue, including hair loss.

Tips: Sleep Well, Hair Well

  1. Optimise Your Sleep Environment. Ensure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet to encourage deep, restorative sleep. A conducive sleep environment can help lower stress levels, benefiting your hair health.
  2. Follow a Pre-Sleep Routine. Consider incorporating a relaxing pre-sleep routine with activities like reading or taking a warm bath. This helps you wind down and prepares your body for quality sleep, which is essential for maintaining healthy hair.
  3. Stay Hydrated. Dehydration can affect both your sleep quality and hair health. Drinking enough water throughout the day helps you sleep better and keeps your hair follicles hydrated.
  4. Avoid Screen Time Before Bed. The blue light emitted by phones, tablets, and computers can interfere with melatonin production, affecting your sleep quality and hair health. Try to avoid screens at least an hour before bedtime.
  5. Be Mindful of Eating Habits Before Sleep. Eating heavy or spicy meals before bed can lead to indigestion and disrupt sleep. Aim to have your last meal at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. Opt for light, easily digestible foods like a small bowl of yoghurt or a banana if you must eat.
  6. Avoid Alcohol and Recreational Drugs Before Bed. While alcohol may initially make you feel drowsy, it can disrupt your sleep cycle. Similarly, recreational drugs can have unpredictable effects on sleep. Poor sleep can elevate stress hormones like cortisol, which is linked to hair loss. It’s advisable to avoid these substances, especially close to bedtime.
  7. Incorporate Regular Exercise, But Time It Right. Exercise improves sleep quality, but timing is crucial. Aim to complete your workout a few hours before you plan to go to bed for the best sleep benefits.
  8. Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule. Consistency is key when it comes to sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps regulate your body’s internal clock, leading to better sleep quality. Improved sleep can help lower stress hormones like cortisol, which is beneficial for your hair health.

While hair loss can be a distressing symptom of adrenal fatigue, the good news is that simple lifestyle changes like getting enough sleep can make a significant difference. If you’re experiencing hair loss and suspect it may be linked to adrenal fatigue, consider prioritising sleep as a natural and effective treatment option.


Help Hair Australia Blog Hair Loss and Adrenal Fatigue Why Sleep Could Be Your Best Medicine


Sources: Dr. James Wilson, “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome”; PubMed, ‘Stress and the Hair Growth Cycle: Cortisol-Induced Hair Growth Disruption.’ Available at: PubMed Article; Harvard Gazette, ‘Researchers discover how chronic stress leads to hair loss.’ Available at: Harvard Gazette Article; Jennifer Martinick MBBS FISHRS, Martinick Hair Sydney, “Is My Hair Loss Stress Related”.


Disclaimer: This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. While sleep has been shown to have various health benefits, it may not be the sole solution for adrenal fatigue or hair loss. Consult a healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment options.