Men of Sleepless La Mancha

Sleep deprivation reduces a young man's testosterone levels

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) "Sleep is the current coin that purchases all the pleasures of the world cheap, and the balance that sets the king and the shepherd, the fool and the wise man, even." ~Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, 1605. The importance of sleep was so eloquently expressed at the height of the Renaissance.

A new study indicates that men who are sleep-deprived also have their testosterone levels lowered. Maybe Don Quixote was onto something.

"Get plenty of sleep to keep your testosterone levels up."

Eve Van Cauter, PhD, University of Chicago professor in medicine and director of this study, reports that young, healthy men who slept less than five hours a night for seven consecutive days in a lab had significantly lower levels of testosterone than when they had a full night's sleep.

It is known that low testosterone levels has been associated with many negative consequences for young men, including but not limited to sexual behavior and reproduction. Testosterone levels are critical for building strength, muscle mass, and bone density.

Van Cauters continues to inform that both the low testosterone levels and sleep deprivation are associated with reduced quality of life and vigor. As sleep research keeps building, all studies are recognizing that low sleep duration and poor sleep quality are recognized as endocrine disrupters. Endorphins are that feel good chemical naturally released after exercise in the brain.

Participants in the study were healthy men with no psychiatric issues or sleep problems. They averaged 24 years of age and were healthy and lean. The first part of the study allowed them to spend three nights in the lab sleeping for up to ten hours a night.

The second part of the study lasted for eight nights where they were allowed only less than five hours of sleep. Blood samples were taken intermittently during the more than adequate sleep phase and the less than adequate sleep phase.

The effects of sleep loss on testosterone levels were apparent after just one week of short sleep. Five hours of sleep decreased their testosterone levels by 10 to 15 percent. Lowest testosterone levels in the afternoons on their sleep restricted days were recorded between 2 pm and 10 pm.

More than 15 percent of the working population in the US gets less than 5 hours of sleep a night.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 31, 2011
Last Updated:
June 1, 2011