Better Sleep, Better Hair – How To Use Screens Safely At Night

a65A study published in the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the US) shows that reading a backlit device before bed makes your sleep substantially worse than reading a paper book under dim light from a lightbulb.

 

 

According to the study:

  • While people are using an iPad at night their body produces 55% less melatonin
  • After shutting off the lights (and the iPad), they took an extra 10 minutes to fall asleep
  • When they did fall asleep, they had less REM sleep during the night
  • The next morning, the iPad readers felt sleepier, and it took them “hours longer” to feel alert. The book readers quickly felt more alert immediately upon waking.
  • When it was time for bed the next night, the iPad readers’ circadian clocks were delayed by more than 90 minutes. Their bodies began to feel tired an hour and a half later than normal, because they were exposed to alerting light from the iPad the night before.

The study found that, “Overall, we found that the use of portable light-emitting devices immediately before bedtime has biological effects that may perpetuate sleep deficiency and disrupt circadian rhythms, both of which can have adverse impacts on performance, health, and safety.”

Each participant was tested with both the iPad and reading a book. Books on paper did not suppress melatonin or cause participants to feel groggy the next day.

The 5-day study was conducted by Anne-Marie Chang, Daniel Aeschbach, Jeanne F. Duffy, and Charles A. Czeisler at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital).

While many of us know that sleep is essential to our health, we disregard this part of our life.  Making matters worse, with the rise in popularity of handheld devices, we use them to read while in bed, or worse, poke at them while playing games or using apps.  Many people don’t realize that they have become passively, subconsciously addicted to technology, and don’t want to let their devices go.  Some of us even carry our laptops to bed, finishing up work, or simply consuming content on a larger screen.

All of this adds up to poor sleep hygiene, and serious health implications.  Chronic sleep deficiency and disruption of circadian rhythms will occur if you use backlit devices in bed.  This includes basically everything, from phones, to tablets, to laptops.  The only devices that are excluded are e-readers with E-Ink electronic paper displays, like the original model Amazon Kindle (but not the Kindle Fire–we’re talking black and white screens).

As a result of using devices, and other poor choices, one third of people in the US do not get enough sleep.  You should get 8 hours of sleep per night, but the average person gets 4-6 hours.  Disrupting your sleep has serious implications for your health; studies have shown this can lead to:

  • Heart problems (hardening of the arteries)
  • Mood problems (anxiety, depression, misdiagnosis of problems like ADD)
  • Memory loss
  • Weight gain (and obesity)
  • Cancer

Having a single night of disrupted sleep (which you may not even be aware of, but if you’re looking at a computer right now and it’s your bedtime, it’s too late) will result in raised stress hormones.

Raised stress hormones not only shorten your lifespan, but they absolutely, unequivocally prevent good hair health.  They make you shed hair faster, and they prevent the hair regrowth process.  Stress is a complete barrier to entry when it comes to winning the battle against hair loss.

So what can you do about it?

  • Firstly, cut out stimulants from your diet.  That generally means coffee, at least after noon.  Energy drinks and shots should go–they are a chemical syrup and terrible for you anyway.
  • Make your bedroom a sanctuary.  Remove distractions.  The bedroom should be a place to sleep, not work.  Remove the TV, computer, etc.  If you use your phone as an alarm, keep it out of the bedroom until you go to bed.
  • Remove anything else that emits a light.  Especially as we age, melatonin is more difficult to produce, and things that produce light in the bedroom can disrupt this important internal process needed to fall asleep.  Studies show that surprisingly short glimpses of bright light can disrupt sleep, so try to avoid it completely for an hour before bed if possible.
  • Practice good sleep hygiene.  Power down your brain a good half hour (or an hour if you can) before bedtime.  Try to talk and converse with others as little as possible, as this has a major effect on brainwave state.  Close the laptop and put away your devices.  Read a book, and if you use an e-book reader, use an electronic paper reader under an incandescent lightbulb (purchase a yellow light bulb (!), do not use a “daylight bulb” as these emit the same blue light spectrum as electronic devices).  Alternatively, meditate, do yoga, or do anything else that you find relaxing.  Just make a habit of stopping work, and stopping devices.

If you must use a laptop or tablet at night, use f.lux.

F.lux is an app that adjusts your device’s screen to improve the color spectrum at night.  Once installed, you won’t have to run it again; it will automatically shift the spectrum your screen produces to a warmer one in the evening (gradually, alongside the sunset), and back to normal during the daytime.

Ideally, you should not rely on this as an excuse to use devices all night long–it won’t fix sleep deprivation.  But if you wake up in the middle of the night and do have to type something or otherwise use a device, it’s good to have on hand, since it shifts the color profile of your screen to a spectrum which produces less blue light during night hours.

For more in-depth tips on reducing stress and comprehensive hair health, check out the Hair Secrets book.

Does Exercise Impact Hair Loss And Regrowth? Is Nitric Oxide a helpful supplement for both hair loss and exercise?

Bodybuilding-HairlossAt HairSecrets, we often receive questions from those suffering from hair loss (both early and late stage) regarding exercise, and its effects on hair loss and hair regrowth.

Exercise can impact androgenic hair loss by affecting hormone levels, including DHT and estrogen. The quantification of androgen responses to exercise can be classified in four combined categories: short versus long term, and anaerobic versus aerobic.

In cross-sectional analyses, aerobic exercisers have lower basal total and free testosterone compared to the sedentary. Anaerobic exercisers also have lower testosterone compared to the sedentary. Testosterone acutely increases, briefly, when comparing aerobic, anaerobic, and mixed forms of exercise.

Question

The following are selected questions from a reader of the Ultimate Hair Secrets eBook, along with answers provided to assist in his particular exercise routine, which consisted of training for boxing–a hard hitting workout, but with aerobic properties–and a question regarding the addition of Nitric Oxide, a popular workout supplement, to his supplement regime.  Body building products marketed as Nitric Oxide are actually often Arginine alpha-ketoglutarate (AAKG) – a salt of the amino acid arginine and alpha-ketoglutaric acid, or simply L-Arginine. Its components are intermediates in the metabolism of nitric oxides.  A particularly popular (and time-released) version of this product is available in the BSN Nitrix A.M. to P.M. Vaso-Muscular Volumizer, which provides increased strength and “pump” during a workout, without directly modulating androgenic hormones which lead to the production of DHT and hair loss.

I am a former boxer and am fighting again towards the end of the year. I’ve never taken any bodybuilding supplements before, but as I’m moving up in weight, will need to.
Is it right to think this is counterproductive to what the book might say about hair loss, as you’re introducing more testosterone into the equation?

I’m going to have to take supplements (no steroids though). I’m talking protein shakes, and nitric oxide in particular.

Answer

In actuality, your situation is perfect for the program outlined in the book. Protein and nitric oxide supplements are non-androgenic in nature, and nitric oxide is actually an excellent synergist to the two stacks outlined in the book, as it is a major component of hair and shown to improve hair regrowth (see http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT01347957 for a clinical study on the subject).

As to testosterone, in short, long term training (the kind you are doing) is a good thing, whereas short spikes from otherwise completely sedentary activity are bad (tending to spike DHT and hormones involved in the hair loss process).  Refer to Chapter 5: Exercise Secrets, and the subsection, “Androgenic Impact of Exercise” for a full rundown of how to best optimize your workout for hair regrowth.

For more on how exercise impacts hair loss, including answers to the right and wrong ways to structure your exercise routines, refer to the Ultimate Hair Secrets eBook, which breaks down the results of eleven controlled clinical studies, combined them into outlines for ideal routines for keeping fit while maintaining proper hormone levels for hair regrowth, and covers the complete ins and outs of troubleshooting your current workout routine for ultimately minimizing production of follicle-binding DHT, which damages hair follicles and causes hair loss.

What is Trichotillomania or “Trich”? How Does It Affect My Hair And How Is It Treated?

Woman losing hair on hairbrushTrichotillomania, or “Trich”, is the compulsive urge to pull out one’s own hair, often leading to noticeable hair loss, distress, and social or functional impairment. It is classified as an impulse control disorder by the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and is often chronic and difficult to treat.

In today’s society, we have largely become overworked, and underpaid.  The income gap continues to widen, and many have lost hope for what was once possible; a long-term, stable career situation with a happy life/work balance.  Whether incidentally or coincidentally, levels of pollution and toxins in our air, water, and food supplies have reached an all-time high, and we are exposed to them daily.  Stress is at an all-time high worldwide.  Many of us use computers in our jobs, and studies show that the multitasking behavior we become addicted to through our computer use actually decreases productivity, both at work AND after work during everyday cognitive functions.

Have you ever experienced the “high” associated with checking your email repeatedly?  Not realized you checked it multiple times in a half-hour period?  Experienced a small thrill when something came through, just to be let down when it was just something work-related?  The whole situation is enough to drive just about anyone to obsessive-compulsive behavior, even if only in small ways.

Studies have shown the ability of stress to wreak havoc on the body.  In fact, a study linking the body’s emotional and physical pain systems actually proved that taking Tylenol after being told hurtful words improved one’s feelings and reduced both the emotional and physical pain associated therein.  When we internalize stress, and fail to deal with it properly, it must manifest itself in some way.  Whether it be increased inflammation within the body, or obsessive or depressive behaviors, stress is definitely bad for your health.  Trichotillomania has also been shown in research studies to have a high overlap with post traumatic stress disorder.

Treating Trichotillomania

While most children outgrow trichotillomania, many adults must undergo multifaceted treatment to improve the situation.  Treatment usually begins by raising awareness of the behavior and the science surrounding it within the individual.  Many people are unaware that they are actually making their hair loss worse by continually picking at their hair, or spreading the hair apart to check their scalp in the mirror, or simply pulling at the hair as a nervous habit.

The threshold issue that must be dealt with is stress; and a band-aid approach will typically not suffice as a long-term solution.  One must identify and solve stress with long term solutions, including Habit Reversal Training, and Hypnosis (our tests found Andrew Johnson’s mobile relaxation hypnosis app to be highly effective in this area).  Finally, when medication is required, clomipramine, an antidepressant of the tricyclic class, has been shown to be highly effective in treating trich, while SSRIs were generally low in effectiveness.

Learn more about reprogramming thoughts, eliminating fundamental root causes of stress, and priming the mind for optimal hair regrowth.

What Are Prostaglandins? How Do They Affect Hair Loss?

Portrait of attractive man with hair concernProstaglandins are lipid compounds derived enzymatically from fatty acids.  They have a variety of biochemical and physiological effects in general, including hormonal effects.  It was recently discovered that a particular prostaglandin, prostaglandin D(2) (PGD2) was highly elevated in the scalps of bald people5.  Furthermore, during normal follicle cycling in mice, PGD2 levels increase immediately preceding the regression phase of the follicle, suggesting an inhibitory effect on hair growth.  The study showed that PGD2 inhibited hair growth in explanted human hair follicles.

Unfortunately, no PGD2 inhibitors are in the FDA pipeline for hair loss anytime within the next 10+ years.  However, PGD2 can be highly modulated through a special combination of supplements in addition to synergistic nutrition and exercise changes. Download the Ultimate Hair Secrets eBook to find out how you can put this trick to work for you right now.