PEAK TESTOSTERONE

Can't Sleep?

There are many men who struggle with getting good sleep and/or waking up prematurely from their sleep.  This can have devastating health consequences.  As I document in my link on Sleep and Testosterone, these sort of sleep disturbances can powerfully affect a number of key hormones.  The studies show that apnea, for example, lowers testosterone by about 30-35% on average (and about a couple dozen other nasty things as well)!

Plus, Sleep Issues Can Affect Your Bedroom Performance as well. Studies have shown that less sleep means higher insulin and inflammation levels. Sleep is also when your brain performs memory consolidation and replenishes those all important neurotransmitters. Lack of sleep will create dopamine dysfunction: see my link on Sleep and Dopamine for some of the research. So I don't need to go on and on - I'm sure you get the idea: yes, that time on the pillow is just as important to your long term health as the time when you are awake.

Now the medical profession has gotten their arms around some key things that can really disturb sleep and cause insomnia or nighttime wakefulness. Unfortunately, they also have ignored or missed many key issues that can plague men. These missing issues are what I want to cover here in what I call STEP 7 of the Peak Testosterone Program.  It is very common to be struggling with sleep issues and not understand the underlying root causes.

STEP 7:  First, let's cover how you can monitor your sleep and then below we will discuss easy solutions that can really make a difference.  Here are some key questions to ask yourself?  Some of them are obvious, but a lot of men are so busy that they never stop to evaluate:

  • Do you wake up feeling lousy no matter how long you sleep?
  • Does your wife/girlfriend tell you that you snore or are gasping for air?
  • Do you wake up with night sweats? shaking?
  • Do you have trouble falling asleep? staying asleep?
  • Are staying up late staring into some kind of a screen, TV or computer?
  • Do you wake up frequently during the night to urinate?
  • If the answers is 'yes' to any of these, read ahead: it is very likely that sleep issues are affecting your hormones and you need to get it under control asap.

    One more thing I want to mention: you can get a fairly decent idea of some sleep issues through new inexpensive oximeters sold on Amazon and other sites. They are cheap and give you some preliminary information about apnea and snoring, for example. (Your wife's/girlfriend's elbow into your rib cage may be another clue.) Of course, if you really think you might have apnea, go to your physician and request a sleep study

    Below I discuss some natural  and semi-natural solutions that often can get you past many other sleep issues.  These are solutions that, generally speaking, doctors do not know about or acknowledge:

    1. Low Testosterone. When I was low testosterone, sleeping was just miserable. I would sleep literally contorted and often wake with muscle cramps and other issues. And many sleep issues are reported on The Peak Testosterone Forum by hypogonadal posters.  And it is no wonder, since Testosterone is So Key to the Brain. Testosterone increases many neurotransmitters and hormones behind the blood brain barrier and without them, things just don't work right. Men with low testosterone often have "brain fog", depression, anxiety and memory issues. The bottom line is that if you have disturbed sleep and any Symptoms of Low Testosterone, get yourself checked.

    2. Hypothyroidism.  Several studies have shown a significant connection between snoring and hypothyroidism.  Of course, hypothyroidism can cause weight gain and weight gain can increase snoring.  However, one recent study found that this effect of hypothyroidism was independent of weight gain.

    "The hormonal stabilization in patients suffering from hypothyroidism causes improvement in snoring severity. Based on our investigation the relationship between hypothyroidism and severity of snoring and excessive daytime somnolence was confirmed. It indicates a possible connection between hypothyroidism and upper airway resistance syndrome." [1]

    Above all, notice that improving thyroid function helped solved the snoring issues.  For more information, see my page on Testosterone and Hypothyroidism.

    3.  Melatonin (Age 45+).  Most doctors do not understand the severe loss of melatonin that occurs as part of the aging process, particularly beyond the age of about 45.  By the time you are 60, you probably have about one third of your original melatonin levels and many studies have shown that this can negatively impact sleep.  One solution is to simply replace one's melatonin to youthful levels.  For many men over the age of 45-50, this can dramatically improve sleep, something I discuss in my link on Low Dose Melatonin Therapy for Men.  One key though, in my opinion, is to avoid all the megadose melatonin supplements out there.  Anything over about 300 micrograms (mcg) may raise your melatonin to unrealistically high levels.  In other words, the standard 1 and 3 mg melatonin supplements are much too big.

    CAUTION:  If you have any medical conditions or medications, discuss first with your doctor.

    4.  Magnesium.  Did you know that less than half of all Americans get their RDA of magnesium and up to 20% of seniors are deficient? [2][3] And contributing to all of this is soil depletion because modern agriculture methods are simply not replenishing this mineral adequately. The bottom line is that many men will get greatly improved sleep by simply taking a cheap magnesium supplement.  Magnesium can improve high blood pressure and help protect you from MetS (Metabolic Syndrome) and thus has the potential to improve one's bedroom performance a bit as well.

    A couple of men on the The Peak Testosterone Forum swear by magneisum-based formulas for sleep.  Check out these comments for example:

    "Hi..I usually just take one ZMA tab about 45 mins before bed and every time it works its magic of making me tired, a better sleep and hence more frequent nocturnals." [4]]

    "My chiropractor put me on some supplements - they include Glutamine and Glutathione and included is some magnesium and some other things. Once I take it, I have to be ready for bed soon, because once about 40 minutes have gone by, I better be in bed, or I'll be sleeping wherever I am :)" [5]

    I recently studied how magnesium can help with sleep and I summarized this in a page on 10 Ways Magnesium Can Help You Sleep Like a Baby.

    NOTE:  Find one of the more absorbable forms of magnesium and avoid magnesium oxide, which is poorly absorbed and can act as a laxative!  Remember that you have to have adequate Vitamin B6 levels to absorb magnesium

    5. Weight Gain.  Extra weight can play a huge factor in decreased sleep quality.  Of course, one reason is that those excess pounds increase the likelihood of snoring and/or apnea just because of the extra weight around the neck area.  However, the issues go well beyond that into the metabolic arena as well. For example, is well-known that obese individual often have reduced slow-wave sleep.  [6] This sleep stage is concerned the most restorative and is absolutely critical for human health. And obesity is often associated with fatigue the following day, which is called EDS (Excessive Daytime Sleepiness). 

    One of the root causes of these sleep changes are the fact that obesity negatively alters many key hormones:  it lowers testosterone - import for sleep - and raises cortisol for example.  This is exactly what you don't want.  Just the elevated cortisol alone can lead to short and/or restless sleep.

    6. Adrenal Fatigue. According to the theory of adrenal fatigue, the chronic stressors of modern life eventually catch up to us and will, especially in the beginning, lead to elevated cortisol levels. This excess cortisol can occur either in the morning, afternoon or evening (or any combination). If it happens to be in the evening, it can make falling asleep difficult and/or make sleep less deep and restorative as I mentioned above in my discussion of obesity and sleep. Cortisol may seem obscure to some, but I discuss how most adrenal fatigue practitioners measure and interpret this condition in my link on Adrenal Fatigue Testing.

    7. Alcohol.  Alcohol will help most of us go to sleep.  Unfortunately, a few hours later it will act as a stimulant and create lighter, less restful sleep. 

    REFERENCES:

    1)  J Physiol Pharmacol, 2007 Mar, 58 Suppl 1:77-85, "Sleep apnea syndrome and snoring in patients with hypothyroidism with relation to overweight"

    2) http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=15672

    3) Clin Chem, 1987 Apr, 33(4):518-23, "Prevalence of magnesium and potassium deficiencies in the elderly"

    4) http://peaktestosterone.com/forum/index.php?topic=621.msg6167#msg6167

    5) http://peaktestosterone.com/forum/index.php?topic=2069.msg22122#msg22122

    6) PNAS, Janu 22 2008, 105(3), "Slow-wave sleep and the risk of type 2 diabetes in humans"

    7) The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Aug 1 2005, 90(8):4510-4515, "Excessive Daytime Sleepiness in a General Population Sample: The Role of Sleep Apnea, Age, Obesity, Diabetes, and Depression"

    8) J Endocrinol, Dece 1 2008, 159:S59-S66, "Sleep and the epidemic of obesity in children and adults"