Men’s Health Week: What happens when men don’t sleep well

mens health week logoToday begins Men’s Health Week (from June 12 to June 18).

The American Sleep Apnea Association is inspired to join the Men’s Health Network in speaking up about the health risks that men assume when they don’t get enough sleep on a nightly basis.

Interruptions to sleep could be caused by lifestyle choices related to employment or a busy social life.

Poor sleep is also caused by unidentified (and, therefore, untreated) sleep disordersinsomnia, sleep-disordered breathing, circadian rhythm dysfunction, or restless legs.

Some of the most common sleep issues among men relate to sleep-disordered breathing, especially snoring and sleep apnea.

In any event, it matters less what causes the disruption to one’s sleep cycles than how to fix those problems. Practicing better sleep hygiene and treating all medical concerns are a positive move forward. The goal? To prioritize sleep to repair and/or prevent these problems altogether. After all, many of these problems can be reversed simply by getting enough sleep.

Sleep is not an optional biological process; our brains, bodies, even our cells, require a third of our days be spent in sleep mode. Men must sleep well if they want to stay healthy, perform well in all facets of their lives, and enjoy longevity.

Recent research suggests that men who work night shift (starting after 6pm and/or ending at 7am) risk developing a multitude of health issues. While not all men work night shift, many lose sleep at night for a variety of other reasons. Untreated sleep disorders, anxiety, or pain are commonly blamed for lost sleep.

Let’s take a look at the risks men face when they face sleep deprivation.

4 reasons men should try to get adequate sleep

Low testosterone

Hypogonadal symptoms (which emerge due to low levels of testosterone) are a side effect of sleep loss over time. Men with so-called “low T” experience a range of hypogonadal symptoms. These include erectile dysfunction (see below), decreased muscle mass, reduced libido, and problems with sleep.


As a consequence of low testosterone, men who have poor sleep for whatever reason may also face problems with infertility. Low measures of semen density and “motility” count (which describes the level of activity of sperm once released) can lead to future problems in sleep-deprived men who wish to father children.

Erectile dysfunction

An inability to maintain proper testosterone levels can lead to problems with erectile dysfunction (also referred to as ED). Getting less than 8 hours a sleep nightly changes the hormonal balance in the blood stream, and without the circulation of normal levels of testosterone, blood may not be available to the reproductive organs, leading to ED.

Depression/suicide wear blue mens health poster

Granted, mental health concerns are linked to poor sleep, regardless of gender. However, over the last week, research presented at the annual SLEEP meeting this year shows a connection between poor sleep, depression, even suicidal thoughts among men who are sleep deprived.

The statistics are alarming:

“13 percent of those who struggled with insomnia reported at least one type of suicidal ideation—thoughts of killing yourself, having a plan to commit suicide, intentions of killing yourself, wishing you were dead, or telling people you want to commit suicide. That’s compared to 2 percent of those who slept soundly.” (via Men’s Health magazine)

It’s time for men to acknowledge good sleep as a critical part of good overall health. Try making it a goal to achieve 8 hours of solid sleep per night. This will do more than just make the doctor happy… it will lead to better overall health and wellness, a stable mood, and a better outlook on life.

To quote Congressman Bill Richardson (Congressional Record, H3905-H3906, May 24, 1994):

“Recognizing and preventing men’s health problems is not just a man’s issue.
Because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, men’s health is truly a family issue.”

Many thanks to Sleep Review magazine for their comprehensive reporting on sleep issues and men’s health following the annual meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA) last spring, where this latest research was unveiled (Shift Work Linked with Low-T, Lower Sperm Density, Increased Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms,” May 15, 2017).