Some effects of sleep deprivation are immediately obvious—like fatigue, difficulty focusing, reduced productivity, and increased appetite. Lack of sleep can also have much broader effects on the body—like the reduction of testosterone levels in men. A study conducted from 2003-2009 revealed that sleep deprivation decreased testosterone levels up to 15 percent among male study participants.
This study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and chronicled the impact of a week’s worth of sleep deprivation on testosterone levels in 28 men. Study participants slept for only 5 hours a night for a week, which resulted in the decrease of daytime testosterone levels. The 10-15 percent reduction in testosterone was much higher than typical decreases of 1-2 percent due to the normal aging process.
Men with low testosterone should consider meeting with an endocrinologist to identify any underlying conditions that could be causing low-t. One condition that often causes low testosterone in men is sleep apnea. Testosterone levels increase during sleep so disrupted sleep and sleep deprivation can reduce the levels of this hormone. Undergoing testosterone therapy alone, without treating sleep apnea, can make sleep apnea worse, which is why it’s important to check with a doctor about potential underlying conditions that could contribute to low testosterone levels.