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Get Lean Diet for Men

Last updated November 22, 2017, originally published November 15, 2015

By Susan Callahan,  Columnist

We all know that we need a good night’s sleep, but for
men, there is an added reason. Men need sleep for healthy
testosterone levels.  Scientists have learned that most of
your testosterone is released into your body while you are
asleep. Combine this fact with the chronic sleep
deprivation that most American men experience, and, as
astronauts would say, “Houston, there’s a problem”.  How
much sleep should men get to maintain
testosterone levels? Or, more to the point, how much sleep
can a man lose before his testosterone levels take a hit?

The Scale of The Problem

America is becoming Zombie Nation, with most of us
walking around chronically sleep-deprived. The Centers for
Disease Control conducted a survey in 2009 to assess the
sleep quality of Americans.

The survey, of 74,571 adults was, to use a pun, an eye-
opener.  A total of  35.3% reported  getting 7 hours or
less of sleep, 48.0% were snorers,  and an astonishing
37.9% reported that they unintentionally nodded off
during the day at least once in the preceding month.
Moreover, 4.7% actually fell asleep while driving at least
once in the preceding month.

What Happens to Your Testosterone Levels After Not
Getting Enough Sleep

When men go for a week without enough sleep, the
effects on testosterone levels are dramatic. In one 2011
study led by Dr. Rachel Leproult of the University of
Chicago, scientists examined how sleep deprivation
affected testosterone in 10 healthy young men with an
average age of  24 years old. The men all had a healthy
body weight and slept on average 8 hours 5 minutes per
night before the experiment began.

During the week
-long experiment, the men were allowed
to sleep an average of
only 4 hours 48 minutes a night.  
The shorte
ned sleep schedule approximates what men
people experience on a regular basis in America --about 5
hours sleep a night.
It also matches the reported average
amount of sleep some of our political leaders get. Hmmmm.

At the end of only 8 days, much had changed. The
testosterone levels  dropped from between 10% and

Your testosterone levels reach their peak during sleep,
raising by almost 40%, according to a 2005 study from the
National Institute for Psychosocial Medicine in Sweden.  

And, as you get older, you secrete less and less
testosterone. Your testosterone levels drop about 1% a
year from age 30 to age 40, several studies have found.
But after age 40, your testosterone drops off more sharply
-- off a cliff, really-- by 2.2% per year, according to a
2003 study from the Endocrine Institute, Haemek Medical
Center in Israel. There are individual differences among
men but, on average, the drop is 2.2% per year.

In addition to secreting less testosterone at night, the
scientists also found that older men (average age 47) also
starting releasing testosterone about an hour later at
night  than young men (average age 24).  The
testosterone secretion happens around 10:30 at night in
young men as opposed to 11:30
PM at night for middle-
aged men.  

So, losing sleep for a full week can drive your testosterone
levels down by 15%. How about losing sleep for shorter
periods? How many days of sleep deficit can you
experience before your testosterone levels drop?

In 2012, scientists from the Centre for Sleep Research of
the University of South Australia set out to find out how
losing sleep for 5 days would affect health profile of men,
including their testosterone levels.  Using the same
techniques the scientists from the University of Chicago
had used in the study of sleep deprivation over 8 days,
these scientists started with 14 healthy young men
(average age 27). The men were first observed having 2
consecutive solid night’s sleep of 10 hours. This was
followed by 5 days of  in which the men got only 4 hours
night’s sleep.

At the end of the experiment, the scientists discovered that
the levels of blood sugar (glucose) and insulin rose, as did
the stress hormone cortisol. However, there was no
appreciable change in testosterone levels.

So the answer to the question,
"how many days of sleep-
deficit can you experience before your testosterone levels
", is unclear. You experience a drop if you don’t get
enough sleep for a week but you can probably go for 5
days with little effect at all.  What about 6 days? More
studies would be needed but don’t push it.

Not Getting Enough Sleep Also Lowers Your Semen Quality

Not getting enough sleep not only lowers your
testosterone levels
. It also lowers the quality of your
semen, a study from Denmark has found. Men whose sleep
is greatly disturbed have a 29% lower sperm count.   
Looking at the sperm closely, the scientists also noticed
that sleep-disturbances also caused the number of normal
non-defective sperm to drop by 1.6%.

This study, from the University of Southern Denmark, was
the first study to show that losing sleep actually lowers a
man’s fertility. (Read more about
factors that decrease
your sperm quality.)

How to Improve Your Sleep Quality -Fast

1. Get Some Exercise  

Studies have found that exercise  improves the quality of
your sleep. A 2010 study from Northwestern University in
Chicago of people with chronic insomnia. The study
considered someone a chronic insomniac if they typically
got less than 6.5 hours sleep per night. After the
participants underwent a 16-week program of aerobic
exercise, they reported that they slept longer, didn’t fall
asleep as much during the day and experienced less

Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

The Northwestern University study also and that the
quality of your sleep is greatly affected by whether you
have good “sleep hygiene” ,using guidelines established
by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.  The Academy
recommends that you follow these tips to improve sleep

  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Get up at the same
    time every day, even on weekends or during
    vacations. You should go to bed early enough for you
    to get at least seven hours of sleep.

  • Don’t ever go to bed unless you are sleepy.

  • Don’t lay awake in your bed. If you don’t fall asleep
    after 20 minutes, get out of bed.

  • Establish relaxing bedtime rituals. If you a cup of
    warm milk relaxes you, drink it every night

  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex. Don’t, for
    example, watch TV or movies in bed.

  • Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing. Keep the
    room at a comfortable, cool temperature.

  • Limit exposure to light in the evenings.

  • Don’t eat a large meal before bedtime. Instead, if you
    are hungry at night, eat a light, healthy snack.

  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet.

  • Avoid having caffeine (coffee,certain teas, cola
    drinks) in the late afternoon or evening.

  • Avoid drinking alcohol before bedtime.

  • Cut down on the amount of fluid you drink before

3. S
trength Training Improves Sleep Quality

A 1997 study from researchers at Harvard Medical School
found a positive association between strength training and
sleep quality. The participants were 32 men and women
having an average age of 71, who underwent a 10 week
program of weight training 3 times a week.
participants experienced deeper, more relaxing sleep after
incorporating strength training into their lifestyles.

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Why Are Testosterone Levels Falling Around the World?

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Exercising can help to improve sleep
quality even in chronic insomniacs.
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