Guys, It's Time to Get Serious About Sleep. Here's Why
Can we talk, man to man?
We men need a good night's sleep, plain and simple. None of us wants what can happen without it. I'm talking low-T, infertility, erectile dysfunction, and depression, among other negative effects. Here's what science has to say:
- A University of Chicago study found that healthy young men lost 10% to 15% of their testosterone when they got only five hours of sleep. Lower testosterone can lead to decreased muscle mass, the aforementioned erectile dysfunction, and (for men who want to become dads) low semen density and lazy (low "motility") sperm.
- A study published in Fertility & Sterility reported that couples in which the man slept less than six hours a night were nearly a third less likely to conceive than those who got the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. (Learn more about the connection between male fertility and sleep.)
- Sleep loss can also trigger depression, which can lead to even worse effects on your health, such as a weakened immune system, lower sex drive, and increased sensitivity to pain. While mental health issues can happen to people of any gender, a study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found a link between poor sleep, depression, and even suicidal thoughts among the male participants.
And yet, studies show that men resist getting enough sleep, seeing it as a sign of weakness. "Getting adequate sleep may require an early bedtime, an action seen as childish, cautious, weak, or incompatible with masculine uses of discretionary time," write the authors of a study published in the American Sociological Review.
Easy ways for men to get more sleep
Unfortunately, sleeping in on the weekends is not the most effective way to recover from a week of work demands and overstuffed schedules that make you shove snooze time far down the to-do list.
The most obvious thing you can do if you feel tired during the day is get to bed earlier. Other things you can do to clean up your sleep hygiene—a fancy way of saying your sleep habits—include:
- Get serious about work-life balance and set boundaries between work and non-work. Relax your body and mind. Balance your time. It will get done, and you don't have to do it all.
- If you're going through life changes, do not—I repeat, do not—stuff it down. Talk about it with someone, whether a friend, partner, doctor, or therapist.
- Don't drink coffee or alcohol within six hours of bedtime.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends and holidays.
- Don't depend on sleeping aids to help you sleep on a regular basis.
- Create a restful sleeping environment—and yes, this means no electronics before bed.
- Talk to your doctor, or a sleep specialist, if you snore—it could be a sign of sleep apnea. Losing weight and side-sleeping can help with mild cases. Severe ones require medical treatment, most commonly the CPAP mask worn over the nose during sleep to keep the airway open.
An Adjustable Base Can Also Help with Snoring. See What Saatva Offers
The bottom line: Making sleep a priority instead of an option will pay dividends. You will have more energy, focus, a clearer mind, and a stronger libido. What man in his right mind wouldn't want that?
Sleep well, gentlemen.
Father's Day is the perfect time to help yourself—or the men in your life—prioritize sleep. Here are our picks for the best sleep-enhancing gifts for dads.