Life is busy, and you like it like that. With so much to do, and only so many hours a day, you want to optimize each minute. So why spend 6-8 perfectly good hours a day unconscious in bed when you could be hitting the gym or building the next business?
Back in the 1960s, adults self-reported about 8-8.5 hours of sleep per night. Nowadays, say researchers from the University of Chicago and Université Libre de Bruxelles, many spend only 5-6 hours in bed.
While the doctors at the Men’s T Clinic® in Texas are as busy as anyone else and understand the temptation to get more done by staying upright and active as long as possible, they caution against trading in sleep for “more” time. Sleep is necessary to regulate your hormones, including that all-important testosterone (T).
Sleep your way to more T
Guess what? Your body makes most of your T — the hormone that’s responsible for your male sexual characteristics, strong muscles, and a vibrant sex life — while you’re asleep.
Though it’s generally known that older men’s T levels decrease if they don’t get enough sleep, research has shown that even young men’s T levels plummet without their Zzzs. In one study, healthy young men who slept just 5 hours a night for just one week had a 10-15% decrease in their daytime T levels.
Your testes and your adrenal glands release the most T when you’re in the rapid-eye movement (REM) segment of your sleep cycle. You enter a REM stage about 90 minutes after falling asleep, but the first REM only lasts about 10 minutes.
During each 90-minute sleep cycle, your REM lasts longer and longer, giving your adrenals and testes more time to produce T. By the time you reach the 7th or 8th hour of sleep, your REM stage should last about an hour. Cut your sleep short, and you cut your REM, T-producing time short, too.
Why you need your T and Zzzs
By not getting enough sleep, you’re not just producing less T, you’re setting up a vicious cycle: Low T levels actually cause insomnia. When you cut back on sleep today, you’re making it harder to fall asleep and stay in restful sleep in the future — and that, of course, lowers your T levels even more.
When your T levels are low, your entire hormonal balance is off. You start producing more estrogens — the hormones responsible for female sexual characteristics — and begin accumulating body fat. Body fat, in turn, creates even more estrogens.
High levels of body fat make bulking up with muscle more difficult. And if you try to lose weight, you could lose muscle along with the fat.
Lack of sleep also impairs your production of healing growth hormones and raises your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol, in turn, leads to fat gain, which leads to …. well, you get the point.
Keep your T on track
Getting a good night’s sleep with deep, restorative rest and REM sleep is just as important to your health and muscle strength as weight training, eating well, and managing stress. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or if you wake up too early in the morning, let us know and we can test your T levels. We could also refer you to a sleep specialist, if necessary.
In the meantime, to increase your Zzzs and T, try these sleep hacks:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every night — even on weekends
- Avoid blue lights from lamps and devices by using amber glasses and night-screen apps
- Exercise every day, but not within a few hours of sleep
- Don’t eat heavy meals within a few hours of bedtime
- Wind down by turning off the TV and devices a few hours before bed
- Do something relaxing before bedtime, like an epsom bath, meditation, or yoga
- Keep your bedroom completely dark with blackout curtains and by blocking LED lights
- Keep the temperature of your bedroom at about 65°F
- Use ear plugs if necessary to block out disruptive noises
If you’ve noticed you’re gaining fat instead of muscle, or if you’re having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, call us today to test your T levels. We have offices in Dallas, Frisco, The Colony, Houston, Cypress, Pearland, Pasadena, Grapevine, and Spring, Texas. You can reach our offices by phone or just book an appointment online.