Many factors can impact testosterone levels in men, including lifestyle habits like diet and exercise, and underlying health conditions like diabetes and obesity. However, one factor that is often overlooked is poor sleep.
Testosterone is primarily produced during sleep, and disruptions in sleep patterns can interfere with the production of this hormone. Here are some ways in which poor sleep can impact testosterone levels:
Disruption of the circadian rhythm
The circadian rhythm is the body's natural internal clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Disruptions to this rhythm, such as irregular sleep patterns or shift work, can interfere with the production of testosterone and other hormones.1
Increased stress hormone levels
Poor sleep can lead to an increase in stress hormone levels such as cortisol, which can suppress testosterone production. When cortisol levels are high, the body may prioritize the production of cortisol over testosterone, leading to a decrease in testosterone levels.2,3
Decreased slow wave sleep
Slow wave sleep, also known as deep sleep, is the stage of sleep that is most important for testosterone production. Poor sleep can decrease the amount of slow wave sleep, which can negatively impact testosterone levels. Studies have found that men who get less than five hours of sleep per night have lower testosterone levels than men who get adequate sleep.4,5
Poor sleep has been linked to an increased risk of insulin resistance, which can interfere with testosterone production. Insulin resistance occurs when the body becomes less responsive to insulin, leading to higher levels of insulin in the blood. High insulin levels can inhibit testosterone production, leading to lower testosterone levels.6
Overall, getting adequate and good quality sleep is important for maintaining healthy testosterone levels in men. If you're experiencing sleep disturbances or other symptoms of low testosterone, it's best to consult with a healthcare provider for evaluation and treatment options.
To improve sleep quality, try to establish a regular sleep schedule, avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed, and create a comfortable sleep environment. Other strategies such as mindfulness meditation and relaxation techniques can also be helpful for improving sleep quality.