How Sleep Deprivation Affects Sex
Sleep deprivation can greatly affect a male’s sexual drive. Specifically, it can quickly result in Erectile Dysfunction (ED). Men who may be suffering from ED, but can't find out why may just be getting too little sleep.
Sleep deprivation is caused when you get less than your optimal sleep period, which for adults is 7-9 hours per day. A couple nights of sleep deprivation is not likely to cause ED, though you may have a lower sex drive in that time period.
However, chronic sleep deprivation, which can be caused by sleep disorders, can cause ED in men.
Why Sleep is Important for Sex Drive
Sleep is important for sex drive because testosterone is mostly produced when you sleep. Testosterone is a hormone that is absolutely essential for having a strong libido, as well as for general sexual health and erectile function. With diminished levels of testosterone, a man will experience reduced sexual desire and sexual performance.
Testosterone levels normally peak in the morning and are at the lowest point before we fall asleep. In other words, sleep is like filling up your testosterone gas tank to be used throughout the day. A few extra hours of sleep can double your testosterone, and for every X hours of sleep you gain 15% more testosterone.
Reduced sex drive isn't all you have to worry about with sleep deprivation - there are many other health concerns
Reduced testosterone can cause:
- Reduced your sex drive (reduced libido)
- Inability to get an erection
- Inability to maintain an erection
For men, these things are rather important for sexual intercourse.
Examples of Sleep Time and Testosterone Levels
Let’s look at some examples of testosterone levels and sleep time.
First, a recent study examined erectile dysfunction and testosterone levels in 207 men with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition that causes you to repeatedly stop breathing and then wake yourself up to begin breathing many times throughout the night, causing moderate to severe sleep deprivation. Here are the main findings of these studies:
- 61% of men in the study suffered from ED
- 72% of men with severe sleep apnea has ED
- Persons with severe sleep apnea had significantly lower testosterone levels than men with mild sleep apnea
In support of the last point, another study found that in 531 men, patients who slept 4 hours or less had half as much testosterone as patients who sleep 8+ hours.
Other studies have been remarkably consistent with their findings, with several other studies citing the ED sleep apnea link at 40%, 46%, 61% (referenced above), 64%, and 69%
Tips for Sleeping and Restoring Healthy Sex Life
Here are a bunch of tips to get you back on track for sleeping:
- Using light therapy during winter
- Maintaining pre-sleep ritual every night, such as reading, meditating, etc.
- Having consistent exercise
- No blue light in the hour before bed
- No alcohol in the hour before bed
- No food in the hour before bed
- Having a bedtime that you commit to as often as possible
- Taking hot baths before bed, as when you get out of the bath, it simulate a core temperature drop (i.e. night time is coming!) that is a cue for sleep
- Have blackout curtains in your room
- Try and use your bedroom for only sleeping as much as possible (don’t work out, do work, etc.)
- Keep your room cooler at night
- Use essential oils, candles, and/or plants to make your room smell comforting/fresh
- Invest in a comfortable pillow for your head and legs
- Invest in a comfortable mattress (they are often on sale and they last a long time, after all)
- Use white noise machines (i.e. a fan) or ear plugs if needed
Sleep Disorders That Can Affect Sex Life
Sleep disorders can lead to chronic sleep deprivation and, in turn, cause ED in men. Here are common sleep disorders that you might deal with:
- Sleep apnea
- Circadian rhythm disorders
- Restless leg syndrome (more common in older people)
If you believe you are struggling with a sleeping disorder and it’s affecting your sex life, please contact us right away.