Can lack of sleep reduce testosterone levels?

We’re taking a closer look at the relationship between testosterone and a good night’s sleep

Getting older comes with its fair share of challenges – from aches and pains to tiredness. Part of this is the result of a drop in key hormones, including testosterone. And contrary to popular belief, testosterone is a critical hormone for both men and women.

The relationship between ageing and testosterone has been widely studied and discussed. By the age of 30, testosterone levels begin to drop be around one per cent per year on average, meaning that by the time men and women reach their 40s and 50s, they may start to experience symptoms of low testosterone production like tiredness and a diminished sex drive.

But as well as age, there are other factors that can play a part in determining testosterone levels, including sleep. By exploring the connection between these two factors, you could improve your testosterone levels, and your wellbeing overall.

Sleep and testosterone production

It’s no secret that a good night’s sleep is important for your health, but many people aren’t aware of how sleep can impact your testosterone levels specifically.

Generally speaking, your testosterone levels increase as you sleep and decrease the longer you are awake. The highest levels of testosterone production occur during the REM stage of sleep. As a result, it doesn’t take long for poor sleep quality to cause lowering levels of testosterone.

In fact, one study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology found that after 8 days of 5.5 hours of sleep or less each night, participants in the study showed a 10-15 per cent drop in testosterone production on average.

The study concluded that these findings were the result of participants being unable to stay in deep sleep long enough to receive the natural benefits that come with it.

Why is testosterone important?

It’s clear that sleep can help to improve your testosterone levels, but that still doesn’t answer why you should be worrying about your testosterone levels in the first place.

Like many hormones, testosterone is key to your overall health. Some of the most prominent benefits of a healthy testosterone balance include:

  • Maintaining a healthy libido. This is what the hormone is most commonly associated with, as lower levels of testosterone can indeed lead to a reduced sex drive in men and women alike. A fraction of men suffering with erectile dysfunction can also trace the condition back to low testosterone levels.
  • Building muscle. The hormone has a part to play in developing strength and building muscle, as it assists with protein synthesis and increases neurotransmitters that help with muscle tissue growth.
  • Burning fat. Lower testosterone levels have been linked to an increase in body fat, meaning a good night’s sleep is key to effective weight management.
  • Injury prevention. One multi-year study of NBA players found that players who experienced a drop in testosterone levels showed a “statistically significant increase in injury risk.”
  • Brain health. As well as benefitting your body, testosterone is also important for keeping your brain healthy. One 2014 study found that increased testosterone levels had a profound effect on the brain’s ability to identify and react to threats.

Do women need testosterone too?

We often associate testosterone exclusively with men, but the reality is that low testosterone levels aren’t just a male problem. While women do have naturally lower testosterone levels than men, they still require a certain level of testosterone for their health and energy levels.

Women who suffer from low testosterone experience similar symptoms to men suffering from the condition, namely a diminished libido, increased tiredness and a loss of muscle mass and strength.

Taking the time to get the recommended seven to nine hours of quality sleep is key to maintaining a healthy level of testosterone, giving you the energy you need to get through your day.

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