Can Lack Of Sleep Cause Erectile Dysfunction And Libido Problems?

Inadequate sleep can indeed cause erectile dysfunction and libido problems. 

And not just in one way. Here are the 6 most common ways lack of sleep can cause erectile dysfunction and a low libido:

  • Reduced testosterone production
  • Weakened D2 dopamine receptors
  • Decreased nitric oxide production
  • Additional hormonal imbalances
  • Increased fatigue 
  • Increased mood swings and depression

But before we learn more about these factors, let’s look at why we sleep in the first place.

Lack of sleep can cause erectile dysfunction

Why Do We Sleep?

Why do we need sleep? Why – towards the end of the day, do our bodies start craving sleep? 

And why do we spend as much as one third of the day (and our lives) sleeping? 

These are questions that have left scientists pondering for centuries.

And you know what? Even today, our smartest scientists and researchers still don’t fully understand sleep. We still don’t have an exact and concise answer for why we need sleep. 🤔

Hei – wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to sleep?

Instead of spending all this time sleeping, we could have fun, be with friends or be productive. Or we could travel the world. All this instead of lying still under a blanket.

People travelling the world

But we need sleep. There is no way around it. You have probably learned this the hard way – if you have tried to not sleep for a night or two. It simply doesn’t turn out well. 

Let’s understand four of the key reasons why we need sleep:

  • To restore and repair our brains and bodies
  • To clean out toxins from our brains and muscles
  • To refill stockpiles of ‘stash’
  • To learn new skills and form memories

Sleep Is Necessary To Restore And Repair Your Brain And Body

Throughout the day, many of your functions and systems are used extensively. After a day of intense use, they often get worn down and exhausted.

Man worn down and exhausted

Therefore:

In order to be ready for a new day of intense use, your brain and body need to be maintained. They need to be repaired and restored.

For instance:

Some of the neural pathways and receptors in your brain are likely to be slightly damaged and torn. Sleep is their chance to get fixed.

Your muscles may also be worn out after a lot of walking, or perhaps a long hike. Some of your muscle fibers and ligaments have probably suffered small tears. 

To fix these, and to get your muscles ready for tomorrow, your body gets it repair while you sleep.

Brain gets fixed while you sleep

In addition, if you twisted your ankle on the hike, most of the job to get your ankle back in shape happens at night. In other words, you need sleep to recover from injuries.

Muscle repair, tissue regeneration, and many other forms of restoration, occur mostly during sleep. 

This is because cells are repaired and restored better during sleep, than when you are awake.

Sleep Is Necessary To Refill Stockpiles

Also, during a day of intense activity, many resources will be drawn upon or be depleted.

For instance, you will normally use a significant amount of your testosterone during the day. Therefore, as you go to bed, your testosterone levels are normally at a low point. However, when you sleep, your body will produce testosterone that you can use tomorrow.

Testosterone ED

This also happens for other hormones, such as ghrelin and leptin. These hormones play an important function in regulating appetite.

Protein synthesis also happens mostly at night. This means that while you sleep, your body takes amino acids that you have available, and put them together to form various proteins.

Your immune system is also maintained when you sleep. For instance, while you sleep your body makes a protein that targets infection and inflammation, called cytokines.

Sleep also restores your hydration balance. Your skin recovers moisture and excess water is processed and removed. That’s how lack of sleep can cause bag under your eyes and wrinkles.

Therefore, after a night of good sleep, you should refill stockpiles and be ready for another day. 😊 

Sleep restores your hydration balance

Sleep Is Necessary To Clean Toxins From Your Brain

While you are awake, thinking, processing, evaluating, making decisions, etc. your brain works hard.

And it creates waste products and toxins in the process. 

These waste products are left wayside in the brain.

However:

When you sleep, the space between your brain cells increases, allowing your brain to flush out toxins and waste products that were generated while you were awake.

Hence, sleep is when the waste crew gets to work to clean up your brain and gets it ready for a new day of intense use.

Sleep cleans your brain

If you don’t get enough sleep, these toxins and waste products will normally accumulate in your brain.

A similar process also happens in your muscles. Waste products are cleared from your muscles so that your muscles are ready tomorrow with a clean slate.

Sleep Is Necessary To Learn Skills And Form Memories

Let’s say you spent 3 hours yesterday on your golf swing. If you go back and try again today, you will probably see improvements.

Sleep facilitated this improvement.

Because sleep enables you to learn.

Man practicing golf swing

In fact, sleep is necessary for learning. Because as you sleep, your brain is organizing and consolidating the experiences you had during the day. 

Certain experiences will be discarded. Other experiences will be kept in short-term memory, and others will be stored in your long-term memory.

And since you spent a lot of time on your golf swing, this skill is likely to be strengthened during sleep.

During sleep, your brain forms, reinforces, moves, consolidates, links and discards memories and experiences.

Sleep does this both with cognitive tasks (such as learning algebra), and also with muscle and motor memory (such as learning a golf swing).  

What happens, is that you form new neural connections to reflect your learning and experiences.

Forming neural connections in the brain

So that next time you try the same skill, you are better at it. 👍

In other words, in order to learn, grow and progress – sleep is a must.

As you may understand by now:

Although our bodies might relax and be in a state of rest while we sleep, this is not the case for our brains. Sleep for the brain is a highly active time. 

In fact, your brain goes through 4 distinct sleep cycles while you sleep. 

The Sleep Cycle And Its Four Stages

Back in the days, we used to think that when we fell asleep, our bodies simply shut down into a passive mode, and that was it.

Your brain goes through 4 distinct sleep cycles while you sleep

But sleep is much more complicated than this. In fact, when you sleep you go through 4 stages of different kinds of sleep. 

Each stage has its defining characteristics and serves unique purposes. That said, we still don’t fully understand everything about the sleep stages. We still don’t understand all mechanics and purposes.

One complete sleep cycle consists of going through and completing all four stages. 

A complete sleep cycle typically lasts for about 90 minutes, and you normally go through 4 to 5 full sleep cycles during one night (assuming you get about 7 hours of sleep). 

The first three stages make up your non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, and the fourth stage is when rapid eye movement (REM) sleep occurs.

Let’s understand the four different sleep cycles: 

The Sleep Cycle And Its Four Stages

Sleep Cycle Stage One

Stage one is the very mild sleep you experience right after falling asleep. 

It’s gentle and if you are woken up from this stage, you often believe you weren’t even sleeping. 😄

The moment you fall into stage one sleep, it is common to experience sudden bodily jerks. 

During this sleep stage, your breathing typically slows down and your heartbeat becomes regular. Also, your blood pressure and body temperature decrease. Your muscles are still active during this sleep.

Normally you don’t have any dreams in stage one.

You typically spend 5-10% of your sleep in this stage.

Man sleeping sleep cycle one

Sleep Cycle Stage Two

Stage two is a deeper kind of sleep, and it is harder to wake you up in this stage.

Your muscle activity decreases, you are generally not able to understand sounds, and your conscious awareness of the external environment disappears.

In this stage, your brain produces sudden increases in brain wave frequency known as sleep spindles. These spikes come and go in this sleep stage.

Your muscles are still active during this sleep.

Dreaming is still quite rare during sleep stage two, but they can occur.

You typically spend 45-55% of your sleep in this stage.

Man sleeping sleep cycle twoMan sleeping sleep cycle two

Sleep Cycle Stage Three

This stage was formerly divided into stages 3 and 4, but is now classified as stage 3. 

Stage three is also called slow-wave sleep, or deep sleep. 

In this deep sleep stage, you are even less aware of the outside world, and very few outside events will produce any activity in you.

This sleep is thought to be the most restful form of sleep. It is where you restore the most, and best recover from sleepiness.

Brain temperature, breathing, heart rate and blood pressure are all at their lowest levels of your sleep during this stage. But your muscles are still active during this sleep.

This is the stage where dreaming normally starts. 

Dreaming starts in sleep cycle three

This is also the stage during which sleep-walking, sleep-talking and bed-wetting normally occur.

You typically spend 15-25% of your sleep in this stage.

Sleep Cycle Stage Four - REM Sleep

Stage four is what is called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. 

The amount of time we spend in REM sleep varies throughout our lives. A newborn baby may often be in REM sleep for 80% of it’s sleep, while for an adult, this is normally 20-25%. 

The REM portion of each sleep cycle typically increases as the night goes on, and REM sleep also becomes more prominent during the hours before waking.

Sleeping REM sleep

This sleep is associated with unregular, rapid side-to-side movements of the eyes. Scientists still don’t agree about the reason for this movement. 

The brain’s oxygen consumption is very high during REM sleep, and it is in fact often higher than when you are awake trying to solve a complex problem. 

Breathing, heart rate and blood pressure all increase during this stage, and are close to what they are at awake levels. 

Sexual arousal often also occurs during REM sleep, and the male penis (as well as the female clitoris) is normally erect for long periods during this stage. 

During REM sleep, muscles are normally paralyzed and unresponsive, perhaps to protect us from acting out vivid dreams. 

Because it is during REM sleep that you normally have vivid and memorable dreams.

Vivid dream REM sleep

It is also harder to wake you up from REM sleep, than from any of the other sleep cycles.

You typically spend 20-25% of your sleep in this stage.

As mentioned above, one sleep cycle consists of all these 4 stages, and you normally go through 4 to 5 sleep cycles, every night.

Now that we understand the sleep cycle, let’s take a look at what happens when we don’t sleep enough. And then we will investigate how sleep deprivation can cause ED and a low libido.

What Happens When We Don’t Sleep Enough?

You know how you feel after a night of amazing sleep, right? You feel fantastic!

Man feeling fantastic

And you know how you feel after a night of little or no sleep. Terrible!

We all recognize the difference in energy level and sharpness. 

And a good way to better understand why sleep is necessary, is to look at what happens to us when we don’t sleep enough. 

Here are some of the common consequences of not sleeping enough:

  • It’s often harder to learn new skills
  • You may get moody
  • Your immune system gets weaker
  • Muscle pains
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Brain damage
  • Death (when taken to the extreme)
Man feeling terrible due to lack of sleep

Lack Of Sleep Can Make It Harder To Learn New Skills

When you don’t sleep enough, it becomes harder to concentrate. Your mind is less focused. 

This sleep deficit can negatively impact both short-term and long-term memory, attention, alertness, reaction time, concentration, reasoning, creative thinking, decision making, problem solving, ability to speak and ability to carry out normal functions.

In fact, research has documented that you may remember very little of what you intend to learn, when you are significantly sleep deficient. 

Lack of sleep may also cause you to fall into short episodes of sleep, known as ‘microsleeps’.

By the way, these ‘microsleeps’ are probably responsible for a number of fatal traffic accidents.

When you don’t sleep enough it becomes harder to concentrate

Lack Of Sleep Can Make You Moody

Sleep and your way of behaving are closely connected. And when you don’t get enough sleep, you tend to become more reactionary. Meaning, you often lose your sound judgement, and you instead react (or snap) almost instinctively.

A sleep deficit is also likely to make you more stressed, angry, sad, irritable, mentally exhausted, and you will often experience large mood swings.

It generally makes you a less kind person to be around. 🙄

Which can in turn make life more difficult for people around you.

Stress, anger and rapid mood changes may in the long-term also contribute to a number of negative health effects, such as cardiovascular diseases, cognitive disorders, cancers, etc. 

Sleep deficit makes you more stressed and angry

Inadequate Sleep Weakens Your Immune System

When you sleep, your immune system produces infection-fighting antibodies and defense cells, such as T cells

During sleep, your brain also maintains the immune system and ensures that it is ready for the next battle.

Sleep sharpens your internal knives.

When you don’t get enough sleep, what happens?

This maintenance and preparation of your immune system is halted or interrupted.

As a result, your defense is likely to be weaker, and hence it will be easier for intruders to invade you.

Lack of sleep weakens immune system

Lack Of Sleep Can Cause Muscle Pain

When you sleep, you clear out toxins and lactic acid from your muscles. You restore your muscles, and you get them ready for another day of intense use.

Hence, sleep is essential for proper muscle recovery.

If your muscles don’t get a chance to recover properly due to lack of sleep, this can cause chronic muscle fatigue and muscle pains.

This can end up restricting your movement, which in turn can have a number of health impacts.

By the way, do you have any muscle knots? Maybe in your back?

One theory is that these muscle knots may partially be a result of inadequate sleep. 

Lack Of Sleep Can Cause Muscle Pain

Inadequate Sleep Can Cause Hormonal Imbalances

Your hormones are incredibly important. If you don’t have your hormones in balance, all kinds of damage and dysfunctions may appear. 

This is particularly true if you have hormones out of balance for long periods.

Common consequences are: High blood pressure, over-eating, stress, insulin resistance, depression, cancers, and sexual dysfunctions.

Production and re-balancing of many hormones take place while you sleep. 

So if you don’t sleep as much as you should, this is likely to disturb the proper manufacturing of hormones such as cortisol, testosterone, insulin, thyroid-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, leptin, ghrelin, etc. 

Inadequate Sleep Can Cause Hormonal Imbalances

Lack Of Sleep Can Cause Brain Damage

I mentioned earlier that you need sleep to clear toxins and waste out of your brain, and that you organize your experiences while you sleep.

What happens to your brain if you don’t sleep enough?

Well, there will probably be leftover toxins and waste in your brain, and your experiences may not be recorded properly.

But even worse, sleep deprivation is also likely to lead to loss of brain tissue.

Yeah, your brain may shrink. Sleep may cause brain atrophy. 🙄

Lack Of Sleep Can Cause Brain Damage

Sleep Deprivation Will Eventually Kill You

Yup, if you stay awake for long enough, you will die. 😳

This has been confirmed by research on animals. In one research study, all rats died of sleep deprivation within 11-32 days.

Therefore, sleep is required to stay alive. Virtually every complex living organism sleeps.

In addition, lack of sleep can cause a number of problems, such as more wrinkled skin, genetic mutations, weight gain, headaches, poor vision, increase in risk taking, increased sensitivity to pain, etc.

Now that we know what can happen when you don’t sleep enough, let’s understand how lack of sleep can cause erectile dysfunction and a loss of sex drive.

Sleep Deprivation Will Eventually Kill You

How Can Lack Of Sleep Cause Erectile Dysfunction And A Weak Libido?

If you don’t sleep enough, or the quality of your sleep is poor, you are very likely to start struggling with erectile dysfunction and a low libido.

Your sexual functions are very delicate, and therefore they very often start to suffer when your body and mind are out of balance. 

And poor sleep very quickly kicks your body and mind out of balance.

These are six common reasons for how lack of sleep can cause erectile dysfunction and a weak libido:

  • Reduced testosterone production
  • Weaker D2 dopamine receptors 
  • Decreased nitric oxide production
  • Additional hormonal imbalances
  • Increased fatigue 
  • Increased mood swings and depression
Couple sleep deficient erectile dysfunction

Lack Of Sleep Can Reduce Testosterone Production

Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, and its job is to control and regulate anything sexual that goes on your body. 

Therefore, in order to function optimally sexually, you simply need to have enough testosterone.

Should you on the other hand have inadequate testosterone in your blood, you will probably find it almost impossible to get erections. And your sex drive is likely to disappear.

The thing is: You make testosterone when you sleep.

In other words, in order to ensure you produce enough testosterone, you need to sleep enough. And you particularly need enough REM sleep (the last sleep stage).

Lack Of Sleep Can Reduce Testosterone Production

Since you produce testosterone while you sleep, testosterone levels normally peak in the morning when you wake up, and are at the lowest point before you fall asleep at night.

How much sleep do you need in order to produce enough testosterone:

At least 7 hours. But if you can get 8, even better. 

What do you think happens if you sleep 5 hours a night, instead of 7?

Yup, you are likely to have low testosterone. 

This has been confirmed by several research studies.

For instance, one study demonstrated a very significant correlation between sleep apnea and testosterone levels, as well as between sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction.

Sleep apnea can cause erectile dysfunction

Research also demonstrated that the men with the most severe sleep apnea, had the most severe erectile dysfunction, and the lowest testosterone levels.

Also, research has found that sleep is a significant independent predictor of morning testosterone levels (free and total).

If you want to learn how to increase testosterone naturally, check out this guide.

Lack Of Sleep Weakens Your D2 Dopamine Receptors

Dopamine is a messenger molecule that has a message to convey.

In order for dopamine to communicate its message, it needs to connect to a dopamine receptor. When connected, dopamine communicates the message to the receptor. The receptor then passes the message on, and an action can be taken.

But what if you have faulty dopamine receptors..?

Lack Of Sleep Weakens Your D2 Dopamine Receptors

In that case, your dopamine would simply be less effective.

And guess what?

Research shows that sleep is in fact paramount for keeping your D2 dopamine receptors healthy and fully functioning. 

Lack of sleep not only makes you tired, it also makes these receptors tired. And when they get tired, they become less responsive to dopamine. Less good at processing messages from dopamine. 

So when your dopamine receptors become exhausted, the messages from dopamine may be communicated slower or weaker,  or may not even be received. 

Therefore, even if there is enough dopamine floating around in your brain, it may be ineffective.

Exercise Can Improve Your Dopamine Production

You may think: ‘So what?’

Well, the problem is that you need dopamine for two critical tasks: 1) To get erections, and 2) to have a sex drive.

Therefore, little sleep = slow dopamine receptors = dopamine struggles to transmit instructions = erectile dysfunction and low libido.

Lack Of Sleep Decreases Nitric Oxide Production

Nitric oxide is a gas that enables your blood vessels to expand. 

And in order to get an erection, this gas needs to be produced in the blood vessels in your penis, because this expands these blood vessels and allows blood to flow into your penis.

Lack Of Sleep Decreases Nitric Oxide Production In Rats

Research shows that when rats don’t get enough REM sleep for 5 days, they produce less nitric oxide. It is likely that this also applies to you and me.

And if you happen to be constantly sleep deprived, it is fair to assume that you will also be constantly nitric oxide deficient.

The reason this nitric oxide reduction happens, is because sleep deprivation causes impaired endothelial function. And it is your endothelium that produces nitric oxide.

But lack of sleep didn’t just cause the rat’s nitric oxide production to fall. It also caused increased blood pressure and decreased body weight

Lack Of Sleep Causes Imbalance Of Hormone Levels

Not only does production of the hormone testosterone go down if you don’t get enough sleep, but the same happens to many other hormones as well. 

Lack Of Sleep Can Cause Imbalance Of Hormone Levels

Such as cortisol, insulin, thyroid-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, leptin, ghrelin and others.

And when these hormones get out of balance, all kinds of problems can happen. Including erectile dysfunction and a lower sex drive. Let’s take a look at some of these hormones.

Cortisol

Sleep deprivation normally makes you produce more of the stress hormone cortisol

The problem with this?

Elevated levels of cortisol can decrease testosterone levels, increase visceral fat, increase insulin resistance, cause endothelial dysfunction, increase blood pressure, and more. 

Any of these factors can cause erectile dysfunction and a tepid sex drive.

Sleep deprivation makes you produce more cortisol

Insulin

When you don’t sleep enough you are likely to become insulin resistant.

Why is this an issue?

The cells in your body need insulin in order to absorb glucose and use it as energy. 

Without this energy, your cells cannot operate.  

When you become insulin resistant, the cells in your body become resistant to the effect of insulin. Therefore, your cells can no longer absorb glucose like they should. 

The result? 

You will have excess glucose in your blood.

Glucose is a sugar

Excess glucose is no good. 

This will often be stored as fat, which means you are likely to gain weight. When you gain weight, your testosterone levels are likely to decrease.

This excess glucose can also get stuck to the inner lining of your blood vessels, causing atherosclerosis. 

Excess glucose will also normally make your blood thicker. Which will slow your bloodflow. And it can also cause high blood blood pressure

Also, excess glucose will often cause your body to produce a free radical called superoxide. This superoxide eliminates nitric oxide, and therefore your nitric oxide level is likely to be depressed.

Any of the above factors can cause erectile dysfunction and a lower sex drive.   

Erectile dysfunction and low sex drive can be difficult to deal with

Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone

Lack of sleep will also normally reduce your production of thyroid-stimulating hormone. 

Which in turn will normally cause you to produce less of the hormone thyroid. 

Research has found that men with thyroid problems, either hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) or hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), are significantly more likely to struggle with erectile dysfunction than other men.

It is not yet understood why this is so, but thyroid problems are often associated with low testosterone, high cortisol levels, weight gain, depression and insomnia.

All of which can contribute to or cause erectile dysfunction, as well as a reduced libido

High blood pressure can cause erectile dysfunction

Luteinizing Hormone

95% of your testosterone is produced in your testicles by certain cells called leydig cells. The rest is produced in your adrenal glands which sit above your kidneys.

The leydig cells in your testicles get their instructions to produce testosterone by luteinizing hormone.

Therefore you need luteinizing hormone in order to produce testosterone.

Should you have little luteinizing hormone, you will produce less testosterone. And with less testosterone, you are more likely to struggle with erectile dysfunction and a weak libido.

Where does sleep play into this? Research has demonstrated that if you don’t sleep enough, your luteinizing hormone is likely to fall.  

If you don’t sleep enough luteinizing hormone will decrease

Leptin And Ghrelin

Leptin is a hormone that signals to your brain that you have eaten enough food. Therefore, when leptin is released, it slams the breaks on your desire to eat more food. 

Research has found that the levels of leptin production are significantly reduced by sleep loss.

The result? A stronger appetite which in turn causes you to eat more.

Similarly, research has also found that levels of ghrelin, a hormone that signals to your brain that you are hungry and should eat more, are increased by sleep loss.

Hence, you are likely to eat even more.

Eating more can lead to excess glucose in your blood, increased weight, insulin resistance, etc. All of which can cause erectile dysfunction and a reduced libido.

Overweight can cause erectile dysfunction and a reduced libido

Lack Of Sleep Causes Increased Fatigue

With little or no sleep, you normally get tired, fatigued and you have less energy. 

Your mind is typically sluggish and slow, and you are generally less excited about almost anything.

You just want to sleep.

When you are fatigued, you typically also have a lower sex drive and you think less about sex. Because when you are tired, sex has normally fallen down the pecking order of your desires.

Our sex drive is normally low when our basic needs are not met.

In addition to craving less sex when you are tired, your body is less compliant and you will normally also find it more difficult to get erections.

Lack Of Sleep Causes Increased Fatigue

Lack Of Sleep Can Lead To An Increase In Mood Swings And Depression

Lack of sleep is also likely to make you grumpy, moody and irritable. Your fuse is shorter. It takes less to push you over the edge. 

Taken to the extreme, sleep deprivation can cause emotional imbalances and even depression.

In fact, sleep loss and depression are two highly correlated variables. Research has found that sleep deprived persons are more likely to report psychological distress and depression. 

And both depression and emotional imbalances can have a dampening effect on your libido. And it can cause erectile dysfunction.

Let’s switch gears. Let me tell you about my experience with lack of sleep.

Lack Of Sleep Can Lead To Depression

My Experience With Lack Of Sleep

I have gone through periods of my life where I have gotten minimal sleep. Not just for a day or two. But for months. 

And this has had a profound effect on my libido and my ability to get erections.

Let me tell you about my sleep deficit shock. 

It started right after I graduated from university. 

I took a job at a financial company in NYC. It was one of those jobs where you work endlessly, and where you are expected to not have a life outside of work.

Open office landscape stressful

I found myself working non-stop, often staying in the office past midnight. Many times, I also pulled ‘all-nighters’. Meaning I worked all night until the next morning, and then kept on working the next day as normal.

Typically, I also worked weekends and bank holidays. 

During a normal week, I often worked around 100 hours. There are only 168 hours in a week, so needless to say, there wasn’t much time left for other ‘things’. Including sleep.

This lasted for about three years. Therefore, I was running a more or less constant sleep deficit for three years.

On average, I probably got about 5 hours of sleep at night. Although I was young and my body could handle the lack of sleep and still get the job done, it was a very strange period of my life.

Tired man almost falling asleep at work

First of all, my memory of these years is blurry. And I remember feeling overall a little out of it. Like something was more or less constantly off.

And I also got sick more often. Throughout these three years, I got a few colds and flus each year. 

Neither did I look particularly good. I was pale, skinny, had a fatigued look on my face, and bags under my eyes. I also got my first grey hair. 🤔 

And also, during this period my desire for sex declined significantly. I should have been in my sexual peak, but my sex drive plummeted. 

Sex wasn’t something I was thinking much about.. or really craving.

But even worse than my libido fading away: I also had my first encounter with ED. At 26.

Young man suffers from erectile dysfunction

I recall it vividly. Being butt naked with an amazing woman, but not being able to ‘get it up’.

26 and not able to have sex!

And it wasn’t just a one-time ‘thing’. After it happened the first time, it was there seemingly for good.

I need to add however, that during this period, I put both my body and mind through rough times. Not only didn’t I sleep enough, I didn’t exercise much, ate poorly, stressed a lot and didn’t get much sun.

There is a good chance that all of these factors contributed to my erectile dysfunction and libido problems. 

But I am still quite certain that lack of sleep was a very important contributor. 

By the way, if you want to learn how to cure ED naturally and permanently, check out this guide.

Man at work until late night

Let me tell you how I sleep today.

How Do I Sleep Today

Although I work less today than I did back then, and therefore get more sleep, I am also more sensitive to lack of sleep now. Now, being older, I feel an immediate hit to my energy levels if I don’t get enough.

As a result, sleep has also become a big factor in my life. Sleep is something I prioritize, and I try to get at least 7 hours every night. 

How do I get my 7 hours of sleep?

The first key principle for me, to get at least 7 hours consistently every night, is to go to bed at the same time every day. No matter whether it’s Tuesday or Saturday.

Clock showing 23:25

For me, it is also important that the room I sleep in is completely dark. If it is not, I sleep with a mask covering my eyes. I also try to avoid very bright lights the last hour or so before bedtime.

To get good sleep, I also need to sleep in a very quiet place. If there are noises, I wake up. If the place I sleep in is not quiet, I sleep with earplugs.

And also, I make sure the temperature is good, so that I am neither freezing nor sweating.

Lastly, I try to not eat chocolate (I eat dark chocolate every day 😊) or drink caffeinated teas after about 13:00.

However, there is one ‘thing’ I do struggle with: 

Every night, I wake up at least once but normally more often, normally because I have to urinate.

Dark chocolate

This fragments my sleep and sometimes means less sleep, because I don’t always fall asleep right away again. This is something I manage as best as I can.

How Can You Sleep Better?

If you currently don’t sleep well, I would try to incorporate the principles I follow. They work really well for me.

Firstly, I would try to go to bed at the same time every night. By having a set sleeping pattern, it normally becomes easier to fall asleep and to keep a good sleep rhythm.

Secondly, I would try to sleep in complete darkness. You could block out any light from your room with curtains or blinds. Or you could sleep with a mask. Your body is programmed to wake up when the daylight arrives.

Man sleeping with mask

Thirdly, I would sleep in a place that is completely quiet. If it’s not quiet, you could sleep with earplugs. 

Fourthly, I would ensure that you are not too hot or too cold when you sleep. But comfortable. If it’s too hot in the summers, you could get a fan. If it’s too cold in the winter, perhaps get a thick pyjama.

Fifthly, I would stop drinking coffee and consuming caffeinated drinks and foods in the very early afternoon.

And lastly, if you still struggle falling asleep, I have had great success using a herbal remedy called valerian root. This puts me to sleep when I need help. 😴 You can get valerian root here

Is It OK To Have A Sleepless Night Every Now And Then?

Yeah it’s OK. No need to panic. 😊

Man after sleepless night

It happens to all of us every now and then.

Sometimes you only get 4 hours of sleep. Or you may lay awake all night.

It’s not great of course, because chances are that you will be slow and lethargic the next day, but your body will normally recover quickly.

After a good night’s sleep the following day, you are typically back to normal.

As long as this is something that only happens infrequently, it’s normally OK. If it on the other hand starts to happen every week, or relatively frequently, it can start to have more serious consequences.

Have you ever wondered what exactly makes us fall asleep?

Man has fallen asleep

How Do We Fall Asleep?

Before we finish, let’s understand exactly what makes us fall asleep.

What is the trigger?

The trigger and key to your sleep is a hormone called melatonin.

Your body has an internal clock following a certain rhythm, called the circadian rhythm. One key regulator of your rhythm is a hormone called melatonin.

When the sun is shining, you normally don’t produce much (or any) melatonin.

But when the sun fades and it gets darker, a gland in your brain called the pineal gland, starts  to produce melatonin.

Man falling asleep

This melatonin then starts making you tired. 

And as you produce more and more melatonin, you get more and more tired. And eventually you go from awake state, and step into sleep stage one. The very mild form of sleep. 😊

Now you also understand better why it’s smart to not expose yourself to bright lights before bedtime.

Let’s finish off with some final words on sleep. 

Final Words On Sleep

We need sleep. There is no way around it. We need sleep in order to restore and reset our bodies and minds, so that we can handle yet another day of intense use.

Man feeling fantastic after good nights sleep

Sleep is also essential in order to function well sexually, and if you don’t get adequate sleep, you are much more likely to struggle with erectile dysfunction and a low libido.

When you sleep, you go through 4 different sleep stages. And if you get your 7 hours of sleep at night, you will normally go through 4 or 5 full sleep cycles.

If you don’t get enough sleep, you are not only more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction and libido problems, but a host of problems may occur: Cardiovascular diseases, cancers, overweight, depression and dementia, just to mention a few.

And if you currently don’t sleep enough, there are steps you can take to manage your sleep.

Sleep well tonight. 😊

Couple sleeping peacefully

Research Studies

Alvarenga TA, Andersen ML, Velázquez-Moctezuma J, Tufik S. Food restriction or sleep deprivation: which exerts a greater influence on the sexual behaviour of male rats? Behav Brain Res. 2009 Sep 14; 202(2):266-71. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2009.04.002.

Andersen ML, Alvarenga TF, Mazaro-Costa R, Hachul HC, Tufik S. The association of testosterone, sleep, and sexual function in men and women. Brain Res. 2011 Oct 6;1416:80-104. DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2011.07.060.

Andersen ML, Santos-Silva R, Bittencourt LR, Tufik S. Prevalence of erectile dysfunction complaints associated with sleep disturbances in Sao Paulo, Brazil: a population-based survey. Sleep Med. 2010 Dec; 11(10):1019-24. DOI: 10.1016/j.sleep.2009.08.016.

Besedovsky L, Lange T, Born J. Sleep and immune function. Pflugers Arch. 2012 Jan; 463(1): 121–137.

Baumgartner A, Dietzel M, Saletu B, Wolf R, Campos-Barros A, Gräf KJ, Kürten I, Mannsmann U. Influence of partial sleep deprivation on the secretion of thyrotropin, thyroid hormones, growth hormone, prolactin, luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, and estradiol in healthy young women. Psychiatry Res. 1993 Aug;48(2):153-78.

Budweiser S, Enderlein S, Jörres RA, Hitzl AP, Wieland WF, Pfeifer M, Arzt M. Sleep apnea is an independent correlate of erectile and sexual dysfunction. J Sex Med. 2009; 6:3147-3157.

Sleep experiment on rats

Budweiser S, Luigart R, Jörres RA, Kollert F, Kleemann Y, Wieland WF, Pfeifer M, Arzt M. Long-term changes of sexual function in men with obstructive sleep apnea after initiation of continuous positive airway pressure. J Sex Med. 2013; 10:524-531.

Dinges DF, Pack F, Williams K, Gillen KA, Powell JW, Ott GE, Aptowicz C, Pack AI. Cumulative Sleepiness, Mood Disturbance, and Psychomotor Vigilance Decrements During a Week of Sleep Restricted to 4 – 5 Hours Per Night, Sleep. 1997 Apr; 20 (4): 267–277.

Dombrowsky J, Lettieri C, McCarthy JG, Shah A, Holley A. The prevalence of erectile dysfunction and impact of CPAP therapy: a prospective analysis. Sleep. 2012; 35:A0574.

Drummond SP, Brown GG, Gillin JC, Stricker JL, Wong EC, Buxton RB. Altered brain response to verbal learning following sleep deprivation. Nature. 2000 Feb 10; 403(6770):655-7.

Dzirasa K, Ribeiro S, Costa R, Santos LM, Lin SC, Grosmark A, Sotnikova TD, Gainetdinov RR, Caron MG, Nicolelis MA. Dopaminergic control of sleep-wake states. J Neurosci. 2006 Oct 11; 26(41):10577-89.

Epel EE, Moyer AE, Martin CD, Macary S, Cummings N, Rodin J, Rebuffe-Scrive M. Stress-induced cortisol, mood, and fat distribution in men. Obes Res. 1999 Jan; 7(1):9-15.

Scientist sleep research

Faraut B, Boudjeltia KZ, Vanhamme L, Kerkhofs M. Immune, inflammatory and cardiovascular consequences of sleep restriction and recovery. Sleep Med Rev. 2012 Apr; 16(2):137-49. DOI: 10.1016/j.smrv.2011.05.001.

Filipski E, King VM, Li X, Granda TG, Mormont MC, Claustrat B, Hastings MH, Lévi F. Disruption of circadian coordination accelerates malignant growth in mice. Pathol Biol (Paris). 2003 Jun; 51(4):216-9.

Goel N, Rao H, Durmer JS, Dinges DF. Neurocognitive Consequences of Sleep Deprivation. Semin Neurol. 2009 Sep; 29(4): 320–339.

Goh VH, Tong TY. Sleep, sex steroid hormones, sexual activities, and aging in Asian men. J Androl. 2010 Mar-Apr; 31(2):131-7. DOI: 10.2164/jandrol.109.007856.

Havekes R, Park AJ, Tudor JC, Luczak VG, Hansen RT, Ferri SL, Bruinenberg VM, Poplawski SG, Day JP, Aton SJ, Radwańska K, Meerlo P, Houslay MD, Baillie GS, Abel T. Sleep deprivation causes memory deficits by negatively impacting neuronal connectivity in hippocampal area CA1. eLife. 2016; 5: e13424. Published online 2016 Aug 23. doi: 10.7554/eLife.13424.

Test tubes scientific research

Havekes R, Vecsey CG, Abel T. The impact of sleep deprivation on neuronal and glial signalling pathways important for memory and synaptic plasticity. Cell Signal. 2012 Jun; 24(6): 1251–1260. DOI: 10.1016/j.cellsig.2012.02.010.

Heruti R, Shochat T, Tekes-Manova D, Ashkenazi I, Justo D. Association between erectile dysfunction and sleep disorders measured by self-assessment questionnaires in adult men. J Sex Med. 2005 Jul; 2(4):543-50.

Hirshkowitz M, Karacan I, Arcasoy MO, Acik G, Narter EM, Williams RL. Prevalence of sleep apnea in men with erectile dysfunction. Urology. 1990; 36:232-234.

Hoekema A, Stel AL, Stegenga B, van der Hoeven JH, Wijkstra PJ, van Driel MF, de Bont LG. Sexual function and obstructive sleep apnea-hypopnea: a randomized clinical trial evaluating the effects of oral-appliance and continuous positive airway pressure therapy. J Sex Med. 2007 Jul; 4(4 Pt 2):1153-62.

Jeon YJ, Yoon DW, Han DH, Won TB, Kim DY, Shin HW. Low Quality of Life and Depressive Symptoms as an Independent Risk Factor for Erectile Dysfunction in Patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea. J Sex Med. 2015 Nov;12(11):2168-77. DOI: 10.1111/jsm.13021. Epub 2015 Oct 19.

Jiang J, Gan Z, Li Y, Zhao W, Li H, Zheng JP, Ke Y. REM sleep deprivation induces endothelial dysfunction and hypertension in middle-aged rats: Roles of the eNOS/NO/cGMP pathway and supplementation with L-arginine. PLoS One. 2017 Aug 15;12(8):e0182746. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0182746. eCollection 2017.

Kalejaiye O, Raheem AA, Moubasher A, Capece M, McNeillis S, Muneer A, Christopher AN, Garaffa G, Ralph DJ. Sleep disorders in patients with erectile dysfunction. BJU Int. 2017 Dec;120(6):855-860. DOI: 10.1111/bju.13961. Epub 2017 Aug 8.

Kim SD, Cho KS. Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Testosterone Deficiency. World J Mens Health. 2019 Jan;37(1):12-18. English. Published online May 16, 2018. https://doi.org/10.5534/wjmh.180017

Doctors analyzing sleep stages

Kellesarian SV, Malignaggi VR, Feng C, Javed F. Association between obstructive sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Impot Res. 2018 Jun;30(3):129-140. DOI: 10.1038/s41443-018-0017-7. Epub 2018 May 25.

Leproult R, Cauter EV. Effect of 1 Week of Sleep Restriction on Testosterone Levels in Young Healthy Men. JAMA. 2011; 305(21):2173-2174. DOI:10.1001/jama.2011.710.

Leproult R, Copinschi G, Buxton O, Van Cauter E. Sleep loss results in an elevation of cortisol levels the next evening. Sleep. 1997 Oct; 20(10):865-70.

Leproult R, Van Cauter E. Role of sleep and sleep loss in hormonal release and metabolism. Endocr Dev. 2010; 17:11-21. DOI: 10.1159/000262524.

Liu L, Kang R, Zhao S, Zhang T, Zhu W, Li E, Li F, Wan S, Zhao Z. Sexual Dysfunction in Patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Sex Med. 2015 Sep 22. DOI: 10.1111/jsm.12983

M Irwin, J McClintick, C Costlow, M Fortner, J White and J C Gillin. Partial night sleep deprivation reduces natural killer and cellular immune responses in humans. FASEB J. 1996 Apr; 10(5):643-53.

Maddox WT, Glass BD, Wolosin SM, Savarie ZR, Bowen C, Matthews MD, Schnyer DM. The effects of sleep deprivation on information-integration categorization performance. Sleep. 2009 Nov; 32(11):1439-48.

Doctor sleep analysis

Matthews KA, Dahl RE, Owens JF, Lee L, Hall M. Sleep Duration and Insulin Resistance in Healthy Black and White Adolescents. Sleep. 2012 Oct 1; 35(10): 1353–1358.

Nutt D, Wilson S, Paterson L. Sleep disorders as core symptoms of depression. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2008 Sep; 10(3): 329–336.

Pascual M, Batlle JD, Barbé F, Castro-Grattoni AL, Auguet JM, Pascual L, Vilà M, Cortijo A, Sánchez-de-la-Torre M. Erectile Dysfunction in Obstructive Sleep Apnea Patients: A Randomized Trial on the Effects of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). PLoS One. 2018 Aug 8;13(8):e0201930. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0201930. eCollection 2018.

Penev PD. Association between sleep and morning testosterone levels in older men. Sleep. 2007 Apr; 30(4):427-32.

Rechtschaffen A, Bergmann BM, Everson CA, Kushida CA, Gilliland MA. Sleep deprivation in the rat: X. Integration and discussion of the findings. 1989. Sleep. 2002 Feb 1; 25(1):68-87.

Reilly T, Edwards B. Altered sleep–wake cycles and physical performance in athletes. Physiol Behav. 2007 Feb 28; 90(2-3):274-84.

Sleep patterns investigation

Santos T, Drummond M, Botelho F. Erectile dysfunction in obstructive sleep apnea syndrome–prevalence and determinants. Rev Port Pneumol. 2012; 18:64-71.

Schernhammer ES, Laden F, Speizer FE, Willett WC, Hunter DJ, Kawachi I, Fuchs CS, Colditz GA. Night-shift work and risk of colorectal cancer in the nurses’ health study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2003 Jun 4; 95(11):825-8.

Schmid SM, Hallschmid M, Jauch-Chara K, Born J, Schultes B. A Single Night of Sleep Deprivation Increases Ghrelin Levels and Feelings of Hunger in Normal-Weight Healthy Men. J Sleep Res. 2008 Sep;17(3):331-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00662.x. Epub 2008 Jun 28.

Seftel AD, Strohl KP, Loye TL, Bayard D, Kress J, Netzer NC. Erectile dysfunction and symptoms of sleep disorders. Sleep. 2002; 25:643-647.

Shin HW, Rha YC, Han DH, Chung S, Yoon IY, Rhee CS, Lee CH, Min YG, Kim DY. Erectile dysfunction and disease-specific quality of life in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. Int J Impot Res. 2008 Nov-Dec; 20(6):549-53. DOI: 10.1038/ijir.2008.39.

Spiegel K, Leproult R, Van Cauter E. Impact of sleep debt on metabolic and endocrine function. Lancet. 1999; 354:1435-1439.

Research how erection process works

Strassman RJ, Qualls CR, Lisansky EJ, Peake GT. Sleep Deprivation Reduces LH Secretion in Men Independently of Melatonin. Acta Endocrinol (Copenh). 1991 Jun;124(6):646-51. doi: 10.1530/acta.0.1240646.

Taheri M, Arabameri E. The Effect of Sleep Deprivation on Choice Reaction Time and Anaerobic Power of College Student Athletes. Asian J Sports Med. 2012 Mar; 3(1): 15–20.

Taheri S, Lin L, Austin D, Young T, Mignot E. Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index. PLoS Med. 2004 Dec; 1(3):e62.

Taken K, Ekin S, Arısoy A, Günes M, Dönmez Mİ. Erectile dysfunction is a marker for obstructive sleep apnea. Aging Male. 2016 Jun; 19(2):102-5. DOI: 10.3109/13685538.2015.1131259. Epub 2016 Jan 13.

Taskin U, Yigit O, Acioglu E, Aricigil M, Toktas G, Guzelhan Y. Erectile dysfunction in severe sleep apnea patients and response to CPAP. Int J Impot Res. 2010; 22:134-139.

Volkow ND, Tomasi D, Wang GJ, Telang F, Fowler JS, Logan J, Benveniste H, Kim R, Thanos PK, Ferré S. Evidence That Sleep Deprivation Downregulates Dopamine D2R in Ventral Striatumin the Human Brain. J Neurosci. 2012 May 9; 32(19):6711-7. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0045-12.2012.

Wittert G. The relationship between sleep disorders and testosterone in men. Asian J Androl. 2014 Mar-Apr; 16(2):262-5. DOI: 10.4103/1008-682X.122586.

Zhang XB, Lin QC, Zeng HQ, Jiang XT, Chen B, Chen X. Erectile Dysfunction and Sexual Hormone Levels in Men With Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Efficacy of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. Arch Sex Behav. 2015 Sep 14.

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