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Does sleep (or lack of it) affect testosterone levels?

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It can be difficult to pack enough sleeping hours into the night, but not doing so may lead to lower testosterone levels according to new studies. You might be asking what sleep has to do with testosterone levels in the first place. Many of us know that testosterone is vital for healthy sexual function, energy levels and muscle building. What we might not have heard though is that testosterone and sleep are also connected.

Testosterone and sleep

Interestingly, our testosterone levels naturally change when we’re asleep. During our REM sleep, our testosterone levels are the highest. Testosterone levels decrease during waking hours. Sleep disorders, or simply not getting enough sleep, can disrupt the amount of REM sleep we get. In turn, this leads to lower testosterone levels in both men and women. One study tested healthy young men with an average age of 24. They slept three nights up to 10 hours and then eight nights sleeping less than 5 hours. The results showed that after one week of sleeping for 5 hours every night, their testosterone levels dropped by 10% to 15%. They also reported a decline in their mood and vigor. Additionally, studies have shown that there is in fact a strong correlation between sleep apnea and testosterone levels. Men suffering from sleep apnea are said to have lower levels of T. And these men are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction or libido problems as a result. Research has also indicated that men suffering from sleep apnea and ED have more disturbed sleep, and therefore less REM sleep. Men are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than women are. Having said that, researchers believe that there are many undiagnosed cases of women who suffer from sleep apnea. Testosterone deficiencies are likely to play a role. It is estimated that about 15% of the working adult population sleep for less than 5 hours a night. Adverse health effects including testosterone falling is attributed to not sleeping enough. Missing out on those precious hours at night can decrease testosterone levels by the same amount as aging between 10 and 15 years.

Other side effects

In general, sleep deprivation can have a negative effect on health in many ways. Sleeping well keeps our immune system stronger, boosts general well being, prevents heart disease and can even improve fertility. Not getting enough sleep can affect us mentally as well as physically. It can become difficult to concentrate and you’re more at risk of injury and accidents. Prolonged sleep deprivation can lead to more serious health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and heart disease. Click here to read our article on stress and erectile dysfunction

How can you catch up on sleep?

It’s impossible to catch up on months of lost sleep in a single night, but you can slowly start to gain more sleep each night over a period of time. It might take several weeks to catch up. You could try with starting on the weekend by adding an extra hour or two. Or you could choose the weekend to not set an alarm clock and let your body wake up naturally. It’s always a good idea to get checked out by a physician if you think you are suffering from low testosterone. Your sleep needs to be evaluated if you are suffering from any issues with sexual function. Similarly, if you are suffering from a sleep disorder you also should get your testosterone levels checked. Everyone goes through periods where sleep is elusive. Students, new parents, busy career men and women all find that there are not enough hours in the day. Even in these situations, trying to squeeze in a few more hours a week will help you both physically and mentally.
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