Lack of sleep not only disrupts your day; it also affects your night. Not getting enough sleep could be ruining sex for you. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is affecting more relationships than you think. Here, we explore the link between sleep and erectile dysfunction, and share what you can do to get your willie to rise again.
A sleep deprived nation with an erection problem
Our generation is getting more and more sleep deprived.
In the context of Singapore, we scored as the third most sleep-deprived country, according to a 2014 report. On average, Singaporeans are sleeping only six hours and 32 minutes every night.
That’s below the healthy range set by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, which recommends getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
More younger people are beginning to struggle with ED. Almost half of Singaporean men in their 30s to 40s are silently having bedroom troubles.
Yet, our hard working men hardly ever consider slowing down and getting more rest.
So before you pull yet another all nighter – let us explain how poor sleep can cause ED and hurt your sex life.
Lack of sleep is associated with low testosterone
Testosterone is the fuel for sexual performance.
It is crucial in every step of the male sexual response – from sexual desire to erections.
When our body makes testosterone, there is a fine, natural rhythm to it. Testosterone starts to rise when we sleep. It continues to rise to its peak, which is usually 8am in the morning.
But that is assuming if you had a full night’s rest.
Each time you sleep less, you are not giving your body the chance to produce testosterone.
Over time, your overall testosterone levels would be much lower than expected in otherwise fit healthy men.
Wondering if your testosterone is low due to sleep? Apart from having ED, there are other hints.
Feeling moody, lacking energy, gaining weight, or even having lesser facial hair growth – The signs of reduced levels of testosterone can be subtle.
You can check your testosterone level at any local general practitioner. In Singapore, even your local heartland clinics have that service.
As a first step, it might be a lot easier to try getting more sleep. Because testosterone levels tend to improve, as long as your body gets enough rest.
Diurnal pattern of testosterone secretion
Source: Bremner, WJ, Vitiello, MV, Prinz, PN, J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1983; 56:1278.
Brain fogs prevents arousal needed for an erection
Brain fog. It describes a state whereby you are awake, but lack the ability to think clearly or focus.
When you get less than 7 hours of sleep a day, the mind is yearning for recovery.
Your mind drifts into a dream-like state, where it is difficult to create memories and form meaningful connections with people.
And when it comes to getting an erection, arousal is key.
Even if your wildest fantasy stands before you (no pun intended), your mind may not receive the emotional triggers needed to cause an erection.
But if you think getting an erection is instinctive, then you are mistaken.
Our body naturally prioritizes survival over love-making. In the case of chronic fatigue, Instinct is going to ask you to sleep – So that your body can recover and escape the brain fog. Getting laid becomes secondary.
Poor sleep causes emotional and relationship stress
When you are not well-rested, you tend to be more anxious, tensed up, and even irritable.
Studies have shown that people make poorer judgement and are less compassionate when they sleep less.
Burned out individuals struggle to hold a meaningful conversation. Missing out on the opportunity to build bonds with their partners.
Things may first begin as a small misunderstanding. But that eventually escalates out of proportion into a disastrous quarrel.
The reduced sex drive could be misinterpreted as a lack of interest in the opposite sex.
As each unpleasant encounter compounds, it eventually snowballs into a “dead bedroom” scenario.
In this relationship deadlock, men experience a form of psychological ED. They find it difficult to get an erection with their spouse, even though they are otherwise healthy.
Sleep deprivation causes an invisible stress
Apart from causing low testosterone, poor sleep also disrupts other hormones in your body.
When you do not get enough sleep, your body produces a hormone called “cortisol”.
Because cortisol and testosterone both require the same “ingredients”, more cortisol means the body can make lesser testosterone.
Overworking is also another cause of raised cortisol levels. And when you burn midnight oil to rush for a deadline, sleep is inevertently sacrificed.
The state that you put your body through creates a pressure cooker of rising cortisol. This further contributes to lesser testosterone and a poorer erection.
The cheapest and simplest solution to ED: Sleep more
Start with learning about sleep
“Give a man a fish, and you feed him a day. Teach him to fish, and you feed him for life.”
In order to find a solution, you must identify the root problem.
Understanding the factors in your environment can help you make these adjustments.
Dr Matthew Walker, neuroscientist and sleep researcher, summarized the importance of sleep in his popular science International bestseller Why We Sleep.
In this book, Dr Walker shares with us how we can be so bad at something we do every day.
Thankfully, he also shares many potential solutions in the second half of the book.
Many of these interventions are simple. They can be done without purchasing any fancy gadgets.
Cultivate good sleep hygiene
“Keep the bedroom for only two things – Sleep or sex”
Sleep hygiene refers to creating a good environment and before-bedtime routine to cultivate your body into the mood for sleep.
For example, when you keep the bedroom only for sleep or sex, your mind recognizes this routine. So each time you head into the bedroom, your body thinks it going to get either one, and gets you in the mood.
The sleep foundation put together 12 simple steps that you can do everyday to help promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep.
There are the do’s – Do some light exercise daily, get out in the sun more, make your bedroom dark and quiet. These factors help to regulate your circadian rhythm. Your body would be more ready for sleep when night falls.
And there are the don’ts (or do less) – No coffee after 2pm, no alcohol or smoking before bed, avoid electronic devices at night, no late night heavy meals. Mostly because these are stimulants that make your mind more awake.
Monitor and customize your sleep
In the end, sleep is a very personal experience.
We all have our preferences. We all may have different circumstances.
Getting started on optimizing your sleep can be difficult. It involves making new habits or kicking the old ones.
Monitoring your sleep duration and quality with sleep trackers apps such as SleepScore and SleepCycle can help you experiment with how different factors may affect your sleep.
If you are a little more committed, getting a physical sleep tracker like Oura or Fitbit provides more accurate sleep data points.
Prince Harry wearing Oura, a sleep tracker ring
The positive thing about “sleep experimentation” is that most people feel the results relatively quickly.
So it’s easy to try different methods and advice that you may come across on the internet.
Eventually, you will have to find what works for you – As long as you know the importance of sleep
Breaking out of the vicious cycle of fatigue and ED
While sleep is important for a healthy erection – the vice versa is true too.
Not being able to sustain an erection can be stressful and the cause of many sleepless nights.
The vicious cycle of stress caused by poor sexual gratification then leads to a worsening ED.
In such a case, you need to break out of the loop.
Try finding a professional who is empathetic and well-versed in treating erectile dysfunction.
Discreet customized packaging delivered to your doorstep
At Sire, you can get access to licensed medical professionals who are experienced with dealing with sensitive issues like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
Consultations are hassle-free as they are done virtually. You get to speak to a doctor based in Singapore, who understands the local culture and stigma revolving around ED.
Everything can be done in your home and in privacy. Because after your consult, the treatments are even shipped discreetly to your home.
With proper treatment and habits in place, you, too, can now get your well deserved hard on.
- Hirshkowitz M, Whiton K, Albert SM, et al. National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. Sleep Health. 2015;1(1):40-43. doi:10.1016/j.sleh.2014.12.010
- Cho JW, Duffy JF. Sleep, Sleep Disorders, and Sexual Dysfunction. World J Mens Health. 2019;37(3):261-275. doi:10.5534/wjmh.180045
- Sleep hygiene. Sleep Foundation. Updated August 14, 2020. Accessed February 28, 2021. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene
- Bremner WJ, Vitiello MV, Prinz PN. Loss of circadian rhythmicity in blood testosterone levels with aging in normal men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1983;56(6):1278-1281. doi:10.1210/jcem-56-6-1278