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.

‘Gravity Theory’ May Help Explain Male Pattern Baldness

Man with neck/hair painThe effects of gravity may explain the apparently paradoxical effects of testosterone in male pattern baldness (MPB), or androgenic alopecia, according to a report in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery – Global Open®, the official open-access medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

The “force of downward pull caused by the gravity on the scalp skin” is the key contributor to the events leading to progressive hair loss in male pattern baldness, says Dr. Emin Tuncay Ustuner, a plastic surgeon in Ankara, Turkey.

In the scalp, DHT has classically been known to cause hair follicles to thin and become dormant over time. However, in other areas of the body, such as the underarms and genitals, DHT and other sex hormones promote thickening of hair follicles. Why would DHT affect scalp hair one way, but hair in other areas in a different way? And why does balding–and the associated increase in DHT levels–occur only on the top of the head?

The answer, Dr. Ustuner believes, is the weight of the scalp on the hair follicles. In youth, the scalp has sufficient fat tissue under the skin, and it is “capable of keeping itself well-hydrated,” buffering the pressure on hair follicles. But as we age, the skin and underlying (subcutaneous) fat cells become thinner, and the pressure on hair follicles increases. Testosterone is known to contribute to the thinning of subcutaneous fat. In women, estrogen prevents thinning of these cushioning tissues, at least until menopause.

As the cushion decreases, hair follicles must strive against higher pressure from gravity, requiring more testosterone to achieve normal growth. This “local demand” leads to a buildup of DHT levels in the scalp, but not in the bloodstream. Rising DHT levels cause further erosion of the subcutaneous fat — creating a “vicious circle,” according to Dr. Ustuner.

The hair growth cycle accelerates in response to DHT, but it’s not enough to overcome the increased pressure. Over time, the hair follicle becomes smaller and smaller, resulting in progressively increasing hair loss.

While Dr. Ustuner acknowledges that his “gravity theory” has met with resistance, we believe it has merit, and have addressed it along with much other science about the nature of hair loss.  We recommend a series of special scalp exercises, also known as “Yoga For Your Hair“, in our e-book, Ultimate Hair Secrets.  If you would like to learn the secrets of stimulating the scalp, returning blood flow, reliving pressure, and ultimately restoring your hair to good health, please download a free preview of the e-book, Ultimate Hair Secrets.

APA: Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (2013, October 30). ‘Gravity theory’ may explain male pattern baldness. ScienceDaily.

Drug (Latisse) Used to Treat Glaucoma Actually Grows Human Hair

eyeScienceDaily reports that an existing drug – having passed FDA regulations for sale as a cosmetic product over five years ago – may have a powerful effect in regrowing hair.

Bimatoprost is a prostaglandin analog/prodrug used topically (as eye drops) to control the progression of glaucoma and in the management of ocular hypertension. It reduces intraocular pressure (IOP) by increasing the outflow of aqueous fluid from the eyes. We have discussed prostaglandins and their major role in hair loss and regrowth many times, and feel that this study lends further validation to our findings.

In December 2008, the FDA also approved the drug for the cosmetic application of lengthening eyelashes, currently sold under the trade name Latisse. The manufacturer realized this application upon observing that one of the drug’s side effects (when used as Glaucoma medicine) was a thickening of the eyelashes.

While the study is just one step towards an actual, tangible, usable product with a scalp-delievery system, it likely highlights what we have covered numerous times on our site and in our eBook, Ultimate Hair Secrets – prostaglandins are a major component of hair loss and may be more key to successful hair regrowth than systematic DHT blockers.

To learn more about the truth behind hair loss, including prostaglandins, and the natural way to induce prostaglandin inhibition systemically and topically, along with balancing overall hormonal health for optimal hair regrowth, please learn more in our eBook, Ultimate Hair Secrets.

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.

Kérastase Densifique: New Breakthrough Stem Cell Hair Regrowth Product with Stemoxydine?

Kerastase DensifiqueThe Telegraph of London reports that a breakthrough hair loss product works on stem cells, describing it as the “holy grail” for those facing the prospect of going bald or finding their hair is thinning with age.

The article says that L’Oréal (the manufacturer) claims demand for the new treatment is already so high that it has seen salons taking thousands of pre-orders even though the recommended three month treatment is relatively costly.

Researchers claim that after 90 days, the liquid “Kérastase Densifique”, when applied to the roots, can promote the growth of more than 1500 new hairs.  The effectiveness claimed is based on regenerating roots by targeting areas of the scalp prone to hair loss rather than actual fibers, using a stem cell-originated technology.

As we have discussed elsewhere on the site, hair loss and/or thinning may be caused by a number of factors, including but not limited to poor diet, hormones (aging related, environmentally-impacted, and otherwise), stress, post pregnancy and over processing hair.

Currently, Kérastase Densifique is only available in Europe; however, if one orders via Amazon, importers have made it available early for use in the United States.  It can be ordered here.

So, Does It Work?

This is a relatively new product, so only time will tell.  L’Oréal has a somewhat notorious history for producing hair regrowth products that were minimally effective.  For example, Aminexil (trade name Kopexil) was a much-hyped product that proved to be generally ineffective (never heard of it?  That’s probably why…  It’s not often prescribed).

Stemoxydine (click to see Google Patent) is the active compound in Densifique.

The product was tested in the SABOURAUD center in Paris, in a double blind vs placebo study consisting of 101 men between 18 and 55 years old.

A Stemoxydine 5% solution was applied 1 time a day (6ml), at the end of the 3 months of the trial, there was an increase of 4% in hair density on the patients treated with Stemoxydine, witch represent an average of +1700 hairs.

Conclusion

It appears from early and limited in vivo studies that a small amount of hair regrowth did occur.  However, larger scale clinical testing would be needed to determine a more accurate assessment of the product’s success rate.  Still, going on what data exists, 4% of hair regrowth at the current price makes this product a tough call.  If the price tag on this one means nothing to you, then by all means, give it a try; we at HairSecrets still assert that just about anything is a better choice than Minoxidil.  If, however you want a sure value, consider less expensive products, and consider following the plan and checklist outlined in the Ultimate Hair Secrets eBook.

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.