Can Night Shift Make Your Hair Fall Out?

Working the night shift has its pluses and minuses. On the upside, you often get a higher pay rate than the day shift. On the flip side, you occasionally miss out on family events and social functions because of your work schedule. But is one of those night shift minuses the potential of losing your hair?

Can night shift make your hair fall out?

For some people, the stressors of working the night shift can impact the health of their hair, causing it to fall out. Fortunately for most, it is only temporary and can be corrected by following a healthy diet and reducing levels of stress.

On average, you lose 80-100 strands of hair a day. Sudden changes to your lifestyle, like starting a night shift job, can result in more noticeable hair loss. Identifying the type of hair loss you’re experiencing is the first step in determining a course of action.

Types of Hair Loss

These first two types of hair loss are the easiest to identify. One goes by the name traction alopecia. The other type can be resolved with proper nutrition.

Traction Alopecia

This type of hair loss occurs when your hair has been styled too tightly or for a long period of time. Braids, cornrows, extensions, and even ponytails can cause damage to the hair. Breakage from the strain leads to bald spots and hair thinning. Did somebody say 12-hour shift?

Nutrition Deficiencies

Night shift lends itself to unhealthy eating habits that left unchecked, can result in hair loss. The most common causes in this category are due to not enough protein, low iron, or vitamin deficiencies. A simple blood test can help you rule out this type of hair loss.

The next group of hair loss types covers everything from genetics to side effects. It includes a type that’s been linked to night shift work. This group also covers hair loss caused by medical treatments and health conditions.

Androgenetic Alopecia

Hair loss caused by genetics is the most common form that people experience. It can occur at any age after the onset of puberty. It is believed that changes in hormones are the root cause of this type of hair loss.

Alopecia Areata

This form of hair loss is attributed to the immune system’s attack on the hair follicles. It can occur anywhere on the body but is most commonly seen on the face and scalp. Hair loss of this nature falls out in circular patches the size of a large coin.

Anagen Effluvium

Considered a side effect, this type of hair loss happens after exposure to chemo and radiation therapies. It’s a rapid hair loss that can occur all over the body. This type of hair loss can also be the result of a fungal infection or autoimmune disease.

Telogen Effluvium

If you’ve ruled out all of the listed types of hair loss, then this one may be the culprit. This temporary hair loss falls out in clumps. Telogen Effluvium manifests for a number of reasons including

  • Stress
  • Sudden extreme weight loss
  • Thyroid issues
  • Surgery
  • Giving birth
  • Pharmaceutical side effects

This particular type of hair loss has some indicators showing a connection to hormones, particularly estrogen. It is this connection that has given rise to proper treatments for regrowing hair.

Science Behind Hair Loss

Recent studies have uncovered the secret that is at the root of hair loss. Scientists have discovered the protein responsible for the life cycle of hair follicles. Even better, hair follicles are a source of stem cells that can be used to heal wounds, repair organs, and cure numerous illnesses.

The protein, TGF (Transforming Growth Factor) -beta, controls when hair follicle cells divide to become regenerated cells. It also manages the apoptosis or death of the follicle cells. This new understanding of the birth and demise of human cells will lead to great advancements in medicine and healing.

When Should You Seek Help for Hair Loss?

When to seek medical attention will depend on the type of hair loss you’re experiencing. Visiting your doctor for a check-up and blood work is a good way to rule out any medical anomalies that could be causing your hair to fall out. They will be able to provide clarification on any nutritional deficiencies you may be experiencing.

Hair loss due to the stresses of working the night shift can last up to six months as your body adjusts to the changes. This is just one more reason why self-care is so important when you work nights. Everything from how much you sleep to the foods you eat can disrupt the simplest of body functionality, including hair growth.

Women holding hair

Feed Your Hair

TGF-beta protein plays the most crucial role in the life cycle of hair follicles. What can you do to help keep those follicles dividing instead of dying? It’s all in what you eat.

Dietary fiber enhances the body’s TGF-beta communications. Eating foods high in fiber also creates the ideal environment for a number of digestion processes. They even aid in boosting your immunity.

Fortunately, there is a wide variety of foods that contain significant amounts of dietary fiber. By adding several of these foods to your daily menu, you’ll be giving your hair a fighting chance. Foods high in dietary fiber include the following:

Nuts and Seeds

Almonds, pecans, coconut, pine nuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds & pumpkin seeds

Fruits and Vegetables

Raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, apples, pears, prunes, avocado, sweet potatoes, artichokes, brussel sprouts, popcorn, seaweed & spinach

Legumes and Grains

Peanuts, chickpeas, black beans, lima beans, split peas, lentils, soybeans, whole wheat, bran & barley

High-fiber foods contain a multitude of benefits for night shift workers. These foods will help you keep your blood sugar levels stable. Thus, you won’t experience the extreme highs and lows of energy from consuming processed sugars and caffeine. High-fiber diets are great for combating night shift weight gain.

Diets rich in fiber improve your digestive system, lowers your cholesterol, and boosts your energy levels. Even better, eating a fiber-rich diet decreases inflammation and helps you sleep better. In addition, fiber increases the good bacteria (prebiotics) in your gut that feed the probiotics, like yogurt, that you consume.

As a night shift worker, your health risks increase compared to day shift employees. Adding fiber to your diet not only can save your hair, but it can also save your life. Fiber can help treat hypertension, reduces your chances of some cancers, and keeps you living longer.

In addition to adding multiple sources of fiber, strong hair growth needs ample amounts of proteins. Your best sources include red meats, eggs, and fatty fish packed with omega-3. Building a better diet leads to improving your overall health and wellness.

Related post – Does Night Shift Shorten Your Life? 10 Impacts of 3rd Shift

Restore Your Peace of Mind to Regrow Lost Locks of Hair

An essential component for restoring hair loss comes with reducing your levels of stress. The stress hormone, cortisol, impacts the life cycle of your hair follicles. To understand how stress affects your hair, you must first know the stages of hair growth.

Stages of Hair Growth

  • Anagen – growth stage where hair pushes through the scalp to become visible
  • Catagen – degeneration stage when hair growth ceases and follicle shrinks
  • Telogen – resting stage when hair strand falls out and the cycle begins again

A study by the National Institute of Health (NIH) uncovered the direct relationship between stress hormones and hair loss. During their research, scientists confirmed that high levels of stress disrupt the growth cycle of your hair follicle. Specifically, they determined that under extreme stress, the hair follicle remains stuck in the resting stage after the strand has fallen out.

More research by the NIH team led to an understanding of how stress affected the hair follicle stem cells. They found that the stress hormone, cortisol, attacks the dermal papilla of the hair follicle. This area of cells releases the molecule that triggers hair follicle stem cells to divide.

In other words, stress most certainly impacts the life cycle of your hair. By taking action to reduce your stressors, you’ll begin to have a positive impact on your hair. Implementing a variety of stress-reducing activities into your weekly routine will boost your results.

Related post – Why Meditation is the Missing Link for Night Shift Workers

Best Stress Reducers for Stressed Out Hair

You have a variety of options available for reducing your stress that can aid in restoring your hair. Adding a few minutes of meditation to your daily routine gets your mind focused and your body relaxed. Finding a quiet space to perform deep breathing exercises before engaging in a stressful task or activity slows your heart rate and lowers feelings of tension.

Exercise can be another way for you to reduce stress. Physical activity that gets you moving releases endorphins which relieve pain and improve mood. Done at the right time, exercise even helps you get better sleep.

Other tactile activities, like meditative coloring, can release those same feel-good endorphins without all the sweating. Getting your senses involved in activities through touch, taste, and smell can be both invigorating and relaxing. Baking, cooking, and gardening are great ways to reduce stress.

Related Hair Loss Questions

Are there shampoos and hair care products that help with hair loss?

Every person’s hair loss situation will be different so it’s important to determine what type of hair loss you’re experiencing before spending money on products you may not need. There are even some products on the market that contain ingredients known to cause hair loss so be diligent when researching new shampoo.

Does using heated styling tools cause hair loss?

Strands of hair become weaker when extreme heat is being used. Damage to your hair can be avoided by allowing hair to dry naturally. Instead of hot curling brushes and flat irons, use products designed to hold your style in place without the heat.

Women holding hair

From reading our post, we hope you now understand that hair loss can come in all different shapes and sizes. With there being a number of different reasons impacting why you’re potentially experiencing the falling out of hair, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional to confirm the cause so you can put the relevant steps in place to remedy it.

Hopefully, our article provides you with the necessary insight to get that ball rolling.


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Emma @ The Other Shift

Hey there! I'm Emma Smith a passionate, Registered Nurse from Australia. Together with my husband Daniel, we run The Other Shift. Our sole aim is to help shift workers and those on unusual schedules find balance between work and life. I understand the challenges of fitting in exercise, maintaining relationships and getting enough quality sleep, but I'm excited to show you that it’s possible to do shift work and still thrive. Read more about us and our story here.

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Recent Posts

Is your hairline slowly retracting? Do you have no idea why its happening, as you though hair loss was hereditary and your family have great heads of hair! Well there could be something else at play and that might be your working conditions. If you are a night shift worker, then our article is a must read to ensure you aren't placing yourself in a spot that's causing your hair added strain!
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