Is low testosterone keeping you up at night?

11-11-2014

The simple answer: no. Low testosterone is the result of poor sleeping habits – not the cause of them.

While low testosterone, which affects approximately 5 million American men, can decrease libido, lower sperm count and increase male breast size, it is not to blame for sleeplessness.

About 30 percent of the general population complains of sleep disruption, according to the National Institutes of Health. Insomnia – trouble falling asleep or staying asleep – can lead to several other problems including fatigue, reduced insulin sensitivity and high cortisol levels.

Cortisol, the stress hormone, increases with prolonged insomnia because of the stress it takes on the body. Constant high levels of cortisol can create a hormone pattern that reduces testosterone production. Low testosterone can lead to adrenal fatigue, which often worsens insomnia. This creates a vicious cycle resulting in some of the most common patient complaints – abdominal weight gain, inability to lose weight, fatigue, memory loss and difficulty concentrating – and more permanent problems such as heart disease and sleep apnea can be exacerbated.

Insomnia, in addition to a poor diet and other bad habits, causes low testosterone – not the other way around. But don’t reach for that sleeping pill just yet.

While it may be tempting to try a quick-fix to get a good night’s rest, many sleep aides do not produce REM sleep necessary for proper hormone maintenance.

So how can you prevent sleep-related low testosterone? Start by following these tips.

  • A good night’s sleep begins with waking up. It has been shown that getting up every morning at the same time improves sleep patterns.
  • Limit naps to 15 minutes per day if you are tired – doing so won’t adversely impact sleep.
  • Exercise! A good amount of physical activity during the day will help with sleep.
  • Avoid overeating at night.
  • Get comfortable before bed and avoid using smartphones, laptops or watching TV before bed.

The best treatment for insomnia, low testosterone and resulting problems is eating a proper diet, getting sufficient exercise, losing weight and avoiding caffeine and alcohol.

Kenneth Adessa, MD is board certified in both internal medicine and palliative care. Trained to address a comprehensive range of health conditions, his clinical areas of focus include men’s health and wellness and primary care. Dr. Adessa earned a medical degree from University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), New Jersey Medical School in Newark, N.J. He completed an internship and residency at UMDNJ’s University Hospital. After graduating from West Essex High School, Dr. Adessa went on to graduate with honors from Rutgers University. Dr. Adessa currently resides in Parsippany with his family.

Categories: Healthy Living Blog