The symptoms of sleep apnea aren’t ones that are unexpected with a condition that causes interrupted and inconsistent sleep. Problems such as daytime sleepiness, fatigue, a lack of energy, and restlessness all seem to fit with a condition that negatively impacts our sleeping patterns. However, with more studies we realize the impact can be more serious and less intuitive than we thought. There’s a problem, though. The research is not always consistent in its findings. Consider the research about how short sleep affects testosterone.
It makes sense that sleep problems could impact men’s testosterone level. The body regulates testosterone throughout the day, but the sleep cycle seems particularly important. Men need at least three hours of an uninterrupted normal sleep cycle to maintain proper testosterone levels. So short sleep and sleep apnea, which interrupts sleep and disrupts the normal sleep cycle, could impact testosterone.
Short Sleep Could Impact Testosterone
A study published in 2011 claims that short sleep lowers the testosterone levels of men. The study looked at 10 young men. Researchers gave the men three nights of sleeping 10 hours. Then they restricted their sleep to just five hours for eight days. They found that during the short sleep period, men had reduced testosterone levels. They also had increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Since about 10-15% of people today have a sleep schedule that includes 5 or less hours of sleep each night, this finding would be highly significant. If we were confident in it.
Short Sleep Might Not Impact Testosterone Levels
Why don’t we have confidence in these study results? Several other studies seem to contradict its findings. First, a study performed a similar study. Researchers gave men two 10-hour sleep periods for a baseline, followed by five nights of four-hour sleep periods. In this study, there was some impact on metabolic hormones, but no impact on testosterone. While it’s possible that the impacts on testosterone only occur after more than five nights of short sleep, the results of the two studies seem at odds with one another.
A 2014 review suggests that the relationship between sleep disorders and testosterone is complex. Some sleep disruption may reduce testosterone, but it’s more likely that reduced testosterone is linked to other causes, such as obesity, that can also contribute to sleep apnea. In addition, the study says that men with sleep apnea can safely get testosterone treatment.
Treat Sleep Apnea for Better Vigor
While sleep apnea might not directly impact your testosterone level, it can mimic the symptoms of low testosterone. In fact, some people with sleep apnea are misdiagnosed with low testosterone. That’s because effects such as low energy, poor sexual function, and lack of sexual interest are associated with both conditions. Treating sleep apnea might not improve your testosterone levels. However, it might improve the symptoms you (or your doctor) think are related to low testosterone levels.
Before you start testosterone treatments, get screened for sleep apnea and see if that’s the true cause of your symptoms. You will get better results if you treat the true cause of your symptoms. To learn whether sleep apnea is responsible for your lack of vigor, please call (303) 691-0267 today for an appointment with a Denver sleep dentist at the TMJ Therapy and Sleep Center of Colorado.