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Sleep, Circadian Rhythms, Prolactin Baldy Theory

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Sleep, Circadian Rhythms, Prolactin Baldy Theory

Post  Columbo on Mon Jan 30, 2017 6:55 am

Bit of a ramble, but I feel this theory may have legs...

I've been focused on getting super high quality sleep. My first port of call was to pay off "sleep debt" (Read The Promise of Sleep). For the first week or two I could sleep 9-11 hours, easy. A few days later and I felt real good off 7-8 hours, I assume I'd paid off any sleep debt.

Then I really went to town on my sleep: Morning light wake alarm, then exposing retinas to a 10,000 lux light first thing (primary circadian rhythm entraining), at the same time as eating my first meal of the day (entraining peripheral rhythms), and then blue blockers two hours before bed and blackout blinds, both to increase natural melatonin production. Doing all this, falling asleep and waking up has been so easy. But a week or two later, I hit a hurdle...

I kept waking up between 3am and 5am for 30-120 minutes, and then nodding off again after that (averaging about 7h sleep). Initially, I thought I'd developed some form of insomnia. But given when I woke I a didn't feel stressed at all (zero anxiety, relaxed mind, relaxed heartbeat etc.), and that when I got up I felt fine through the day, something wasn't adding up.

That's when I stumbled across the concept that biphasic sleep is likely our natural sleeping pattern, based on both historical anecdotal evidence, evidence from remote tribes, and actual studies. This is a good summary:

"But don’t hide under the covers just yet, because there could be a better approach. It’s worth taking a look back at the work of sleep researcher Thomas A. Wehr, who subjected people to 14 hours of daily darkness for a month in the 1990s. And you thought the end of daylight saving time was harsh!

As Wehr’s study progressed, something odd happened. Instead of sleeping for several hours straight, subjects began sleeping in two blocks, each about four to five hours long. In between, they lay peacefully awake for up to a few hours — not quite what most of us experience these days when we jolt awake at 2 a.m. Follow-up research revealed why: Extended darkness triggered a release of the calming hormone prolactin and the sleep regulator melatonin; the perfect marriage for a meditative middle-of-the-night state.

What Wehr had “discovered” — the so-called biphasic pattern of sleep — was actually nothing new or revolutionary. As far back as 800 B.C., humans slept in two separate spans of time, between which wakefulness was considered perfectly normal. History is no stranger to segmented sleep: it’s relevant everywhere from The Odyssey to 16th-century prayer manuals. In fact, one historian has identified nearly 500 historical references to biphasic or “segmented” sleep."

Exactly what happened to me when I shifted my light/sleep patterns to more natural ones. (This may be more of a winter thing, summer you'll get longer days so biphasic sleeping may fade away then)

(Read full piece here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-can-the-evolution-of-our-sleep-habits-teach-us_us_56f2979be4b04c4c376097e8)

Anyway, getting to the point... several sleep researchers, like Jesse Gamble, have observed "a huge increase in prolactin in biphasic sleepers", at night, far more than us Westerners typically experience. And the effect of this is an overall net reduction in prolactin

"This prolactin surge in the first segment of the night can be regulatory of the entire day’s hormonal secretions. Having a high peak prolactin in the night, and repartitioning SWS into the first three hours of the night will mean there is less prolactin secreted throughout the day."

Given that quite a few folk, like Danny Roddy, believe that prolactin is a key baldness driver, could it simply be that our modern dysfunctional use of light is a primary factor behind so many slapheads? Here's more...

"Prolactin enhances the secretion of dopamine and hgh, which enhances the delta wave SWS. Prolactin also down-regulates sex hormones, so when the prolactin is high and blocking other hormones there effectively is a sex-hormone rebound when the prolactin secretion stops when you wake. When the prolactin stops and the rebound begins, the hypothalamus secretes gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). The GnRH will signal the pituitary gland to produce and secrete luteinizing hormone (LH) and FSH. LH orders the production of progesterone, DHEA kickstarts the production of testosterone (this is why most men get erections in the morning) and the DHEA combined with the progesterone raises body temperature and keeps the body warm at night.

This is all a very, very healthy process, as ideally testosterone is highest in the morning, and prolactin should not be produced in the day unless under very specific circumstances.

Monophasic sleepers will only produce a very small dose of midnight prolactin, or not get it at all, so the entire day’s hormone regulation becomes very sluggish, or doesn’t work at all! Testosterone does not get secreted until the later hours of the morning… some people will constantly produce small amounts of prolactin throughout both the night and the day to make up for lack of midnight surge which develops prolactin resistance and prolactinema…  prolactin interferes with other hormones which results in low testosterone, low estriol, low esterone, and high estradiol which results in fat gain… the dopamine system becomes exhausted and ineffective at producing GnRH resulting in low libido. Many doctors will attribute this to disease caused by general aging, but it could be a result of bad sleeping habits and forced monophasic sleep.

To reiterate, the result of no midnight prolactin surge is constantly secreted prolactin. Estradiol is needed to produce prolactin throughout the day. Estradiol is about 10 times as potent as estrone and about 80 times as potent as estriol in its estrogenic effect, so is there an estrogen-type imbalance and effective estrogen power to effective testosterone power becomes imbalanced. It is most noticeable in women as they age. Not only does high effective estrogen cause fat gain in the belly, and chest areas, but it is also related to many diseases."

https://www.polyphasicsociety.com/polyphasic-sleep/overviews/segmented-sleep/

So, was baldness as pronounced before electric lighting? (I have no idea how one would find out that sort of info)
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Columbo

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Re: Sleep, Circadian Rhythms, Prolactin Baldy Theory

Post  sanderson on Mon Jan 30, 2017 12:25 pm

good post, yeah it's a good point, light is huge, darkness is high stress... you can buy red light that you can use a few times a day if you dont get enough light
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