Sleep loss causing my AA | HairLossTalk Forums

Sleep loss causing my AA

Discussion in 'Alopecia Areata' started by fbidwell, Apr 13, 2016.

  1. fbidwell

    fbidwell New Member

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    Sleep loss causing my Alopecia Areata

    I've had Alopecia Areata for about ten years. I believe it was initially triggered by intense stress when my mother died a month before my wedding. My entire beard fell out, eyelashes, eyebrows, and spots in my hair and body.

    Over the past two years I've discovered a direct connection between AA and mild sleep loss. I need at least 7 hours to feel right. If I consistently get less (i.e. for two weeks or more), I start to feel a stress reaction in my body. Sure enough, my eyebrows, eyelashes, and beard start to fall out. I believe, for me, this is the effect of long-term mild sleep deprivation. I know losing an 1-1.5 hours a night doesn't sound like much, but over time it adds up.

    I started to figure this out when my son was born. Leading up to his birth, I decided to get tons of sleep because I knew I would need it. So I sleep about 8 hours a night, which I haven't done since I was a child. When he was born, I didn't shave for a month or so and I noticed my entire beard was growing in. Over the past two years since he was born, my beard has continued to grow well but occasionally would start to fall out, or my eyebrows and eyelashes would start to fall out. I finally realized it was connected to periods of sleep loss. So I committed to always getting 7.5 hours a night, and it all grew back. Every time I've gotten less sleep for a period of a week or two (e.g. due to son being sick, staying up too late playing a new video game, etc), I get a bald spot in my beard, eyebrow and eyelashes. I recommit to sleep, and it starts growing back within a couple of weeks.

    My theory is that sleep loss leads to a stress reaction in the body that initiates the autoimmune response. I've observed this pattern for over two years now and am sure this is the cause in my case, so I wanted to share. I had given up on ever having a cure for my AA. I had tried doctor-prescribed creams, herbal treatments, stress reduction therapies, etc. Nothing made a difference until this discovery.
     
    #1 fbidwell, Apr 13, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2016
  2. john1181

    john1181 New Member My Regimen

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    My hair loss seemed to be caused by sleep deprivation/ sleep schedule changes aswell. Although I don't know if it is AA, my doctor just said it is not male pattern baldness, but simply "Alopecia" caused by autoimmune response.
     
  3. fbidwell

    fbidwell New Member

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    Since I originally posted this, I have confirmed over and over that my own hair loss is very closely and directly related to sleep loss/disturbance. Without fail, if I don't get enough sleep for a couple of weeks or more, my eyebrows and beard start falling out. Unfortunately, it takes a much longer time of getting adequate sleep for the hair to grow back, but still...this has been life-changing for me. I realize that is not going to be true for every person with AA, but for me there is a very strong, direct correlation.

    I will also note that I have greatly improved my sleep through the use of 5-HTP. For years, I had noticed that I felt very tired even with 7-8 hours of sleep. I was a walking zombie with less than 7 hours. Now I feel great on a normal 7-8 hours of sleep, and am functional on less.

    First I used melatonin (1 mg time released just before bed), which helped. I have recently switched to 5-HTP (50 mg, 1 hr before bed), which has been even better. The body absorbs tryptophan through food, some of which is converted to 5-HTP in the intestine, some of which is converted to serotonin in the intestine, some of which is converted to melatonin in the pineal gland at nighttime. I feel much better about 5-HTP because it still allows my brain to do the conversion to melatonin.

    I had gone through an expensive sleep study a few years ago to see if I had sleep apnea. I do not have sleep apnea, but something was interfering with my REM cycle. Through a bit of research, I figured out the relationship of serotonin and melatonin to sleep regulation. That's how I got started on melatonin. But I never felt comfortable with melatonin because clearly there is an underlying problem for me, and by using melatonin I knew I was suppressing my brain's own melatonin production. So I tried 5-HTP to see if my brain could still do the 5-HTP>serotonin>melatonin process, and apparently it can. Now I am thinking the problem might lie in my intestines/digestive tract. As always, the goal is to not be dependent on supplements or medicine, if possible.

    I only mention all that about 5-HTP and melatonin because it is part of *my* story, and may perhaps be useful to others. I had to figure this all out on my own because the doctors I talked with weren't getting me anywhere. But I am absolutely 100% sure that my hair loss is directly related to sleep loss.
     

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