How Sleep Can Improve Your Sex Life

Hi!

I'm Dr. Anne Truong, MD

Dr. Anne Truong is a highly respected physician, best-selling author and internationally sought-after speaker on the topics of regenerative cell medicine, pain management, and applications for aesthetics and sexuality.

Most guys know that getting a good night's sleep is essential, but did you know that sleep can improve your sex life? You're not getting the sleep you need, and as a result, your sex life is suffering.

Many things can lead to sexual problems, but lack of sleep is one of the most common and easily ignored.

Many men don't realize that lack of sleep can cause erectile dysfunction. This episode will discuss how lack of sleep can cause ED and what happens during REM sleep.

Listen to this episode to learn more about shut-eye and say goodbye to ED. You will feel more alert and energized during the day, but you'll also be doing your sex life a favor.

How Sleep Can Improve Your Sex Life Episode Contents

How Sleep Can Improve Your Sex Life Episode Video

How Sleep Affects Your Sexual Function

How Sleep Affects Your Sexual Function
Photographer: bruce mars

Anne: We are here today and today we're going to talk about how sleep affects your sexual function. The first thing that we do when we're busy is we compromise our sleep, but do you know that if you don't have enough sleep it's going to affect how you perform in the bedroom? And it can take as early as within three weeks, and we're going to explore that today and have a discussion about it. For instance, you need at least seven hours of sleep particularly from 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM in the morning to get that adequate buildup of testosterone hormone that gets created in your testicles at nighttime because that's when you're in REM sleep.

When you're in REM sleep, your testicles make more testosterone. In the man, testosterone, 90% of it is made in the testicles and 10% of is made in the adrenal glands versus for a woman 50% of it's made in the ovaries and 50% in the adrenals. So getting rapid eye movement or REM sleep is critical for hormone and during REM sleep is when you actually have a morning or nighttime erection, so do you notice that?

Bao: I do, but what happens though if you sleep more than seven hours? Does that mean that you have more capability in getting the erection or it doesn't really make a difference?

Anne: Well, actually that's a good question. If you sleep more than seven hours, it doesn't help more, it just means that you're more rested. But if you sleep more than seven hours sometime your body would just wake up naturally. You ever sleep to a point where you so exhausted you sleep more than you need to? Your body just telling you need to sleep, but if you are well rested, you will wake up when your body's ready to wake up without an alarm.

The point is, your body heals physically from 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM and mentally from 2:00 AM to 6:00 AM.

So multiple studies have shown healing start at nighttime, not during the daytime so sleeping is essential for healing and sleeping is essential for healing particularly down there as well too and that's why a lot of us spend time in bed at nighttime with sexual activity.

How Sleep Depravation Affects your Hormones

Bao: Well, I know that if I don't get a good night's sleep of a minimum of seven hours that you say, the next day, next morning my morning erection is not as hard and also the next evening or even during the daytime I don't feel like I'm rested or have the libido or the urge to have intimacy. So sleeping or sleep deprivation plays a role is what you're saying, in ED, right?

Anne: Right. Absolutely. And to dive a little bit deeper into that and get a little bit nerdy which I love, about the hormones is that when you do not have enough sleep, your adrenal gland then secrets more cortisol because when you're not having enough sleep, your body senses stress so you release more cortisol so when you release more cortisol, your body feel that,

"Oh my goodness, I'm stressed. Well, the first thing I'm going to do is shut down my testosterone. I'm not going to make as much testosterone because I got to prepare my body to run away from the emergency and not be prepared to have sex."

So what happens is your testosterone level decreases and your cortisol level increases so they fight for each other and they fight for the receptors in the cells. So it's critical that you manage that stress level too and know that the cortisol level affect the testosterone level so too much of cortisol is not good but then again too little cortisol is not good as well and all of that cycle is called the hypo pituitary axis and what we call the adrenal fatigue.

Essentially, when you're stressed it's good that you have high cortisol so that way you can adapt, but then when you too much stressed you continue to be high, high, high, high and then your body says, "I can't handle this. I'm just going to decompensate." And then your cortisol level drop because you can't adapt anymore. You go drop, drop, drop, drop and then you hit rock bottom barrel and you can't adapt to stress. When you can't adapt to stress, you hit the bottom of the barrel and then what happens? You have no hormones left, you have no more thyroid hormone left and you have no more sex hormones left and you just become totally burnt out and that's what's called the adrenal fatigue stage three.

What Lack Of Sleep Does To Your Body

What Lack Of Sleep Does To Your Body
Photographer: Annie Spratt

Anne: That's why I'm always stressing, we will try to go to bed at least seven hours and at least between seven… I mean, 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM. And we're not the best at it either. We're night owls. We go to bed at midnight and crawl out of bed around 7:00 AM. We need to do a better job at trying to go to bed earlier because our body needs that physical rest more than anything and… More so, if you don't have enough sleep… What happens when you don't have enough sleep?

Bao: Well, you get grouchy, you're tired. Your whole day is spent really drinking 10 cup of coffee which is not good for you so I mean sleeping well is the key to health and most importantly for ED, to help prevent ED, right? So let me ask you this, what's the frequency though? How long can I go without sleeping the seven hours and not have it affect the ED? Is it something that if I don't sleep within two days, I get ED right away or is it over time?

How Long It Takes To Get Back To Normal Levels Of Hormones

Anne: Well, it is actually cumulative over time. Probably would take about three to six weeks or so until your body senses an imbalance.

I would just probably say about six weeks until you start seeing a little dip in the levels and that will compound with the fact that I talk about with cortisol as well too.

You'll see cortisol level rising and then you also will see on top of that changes and fluctuation in your blood sugar level, because cortisol will also raise your blood sugar level as well then you become a little bit insulin resistant and then you start putting a little bit of fat around the belly. Do you know that for men that when your testosterone level is low, when you have less hair on your legs, when you start losing hair on your legs or that you start gaining a little bit of fat around the love handles and the belly or you start to have a little bit of fat around the breast area?

Bao: So that's hormone imbalance?

Anne: Right. Right. What happen is that the testosterone gets converted to female hormone, estrogen in that fat, so it takes away your total testosterone which make you a male. And then again, it all ties back to men make their testosterone in their testicles and the testosterone are replenished in the testicles and that's where the production is made, all right? And when is it made? It's made when you are asleep during REM sleep. That's when you have nighttime erection or morning erection. And in fact, studies have shown that actually men can have up to five to eight spontaneous erection at nighttime. Do you know that?

Bao: No, I definitely see that. I mean, I know that in the middle of the night I get that, and then early morning and then when I get up. So for me it's about three to four time erection throughout the whole night.

Anne: That you know of.
Bao: That I know of, yeah.

Anne: At morning time the average is about three to eight times according to a study but many men will probably report maybe the same or less, right? Because you sometimes you don't know. Probably when you're younger, you probably have a lot more as well too. Because you're younger, your testosterone level is the highest when you're in your twenties. That makes sense, right? In your twenties and it start declining when you're around 35 and decline about 1% every year.

Getting Your Body Back To Normal

Bao: So what happens if… so if you don't sleep a whole lot, sleep deprivation, less than seven hours, and you correct that over time, how long does it take for you to get back on track again in having ED? Is it something that you can recover in one weeks of sleep of seven hours or it just takes more time once you've fallen into the pit hole of having ED because of sleep deprivation? How is it?

Anne: Right. Yeah. Now that's a good question because let's just say you have a project and you've been staying up late and trying to finish that project and… Well, your body is very plastic, meaning it's very adaptable so it will probably take you, again, probably about three to six weeks again to normalize your-

Bao: To reset.

Anne: Yes. To reset again, to get back on schedule again. About three to six weeks is what the timeframe is for healing and reestablishing homeostasis. Again, it's not overnight. It's around that time because that's when we see changes in hormone levels and when we see… For instance, if you change your diet, if you eat a low fat diet, a low carb diet, within four to six weeks we see a change in your cholesterol, your blood sugar in your blood, but you don't see it right away. It takes some time for your body to get to that homeostasis and cellular changes levels. I would say probably between… more optimally around four to six weeks timeframe.

Why Sleep Can Improve Your Sex Life

Why Sleep Can Improve Your Sex Life
Photographer: Kinga Cichewicz

Bao: So it sounds like it's by not sleeping a whole lot that's hormonal or chemistry imbalance, how much of that is also… plays a role into the mind? How does that affect the mind besides the physical, what you've explained, the chemistry. What about the mind? The psychology?

Anne: Well, of course. You mean… you're talking about lack of sleep?

Bao: Yeah. Lack of sleep.

Anne: Yeah. Well, lack of sleep, as you know, when you have lack of sleep, your mind is not as sharp and you don't have… your memory is impaired, you have lack of focus on what you need to do and lack of energy, more fatigue, so certainly sleep is essential for mental and physical resetting. Okay?

Bao: So also not put you in the mood, right?

Anne: Oh, definitely. I mean, when you have lack of sleep, who's in the mood to have… to be in the mood for sexual activity? So that's why the most preferred way to have sexual activity because you want to encourage sleeping as mentioned. One of the reason why after you have sex there are hundred hormone that are released in your body and in your brain that actually promotes sleep. Hormones such as oxytocin and various hormone that is released that actually make you go to sleep. So after the effect of sex, what happen? You get sleepy.

Bao: You get tired. Spend a lot of energy.

Anne: Yes. Not only spend energy for… Just FYI, men at spend about 150 calories during sex and women's about a hundred calories, so it does consider moderate exercise when you have sex and the longer you go, the more energy you spend. So sex is moderate exercise.

Bao: But on a side note with that, you guys out there in the audience, wear your watch, your iWatch.

Anne: Your apple watch, right. Yeah.

Bao: Your Apple watch. Yeah. Because we've done it just out of curiosity to measure heart rate and calories burn and what she said is very true. You do burn calories and your heart rate do go up, especially when reach your orgasm which is very interesting stuff.

Anne: Right. It's a good metric to follow and it definitely is accurate in about a hundred calories for women and 150 for men but that's on an average. But getting back to my point was I was saying that the sleepiness that you get after orgasm is promoting sleep, and good sleep.

And there's a hundred hormones and substances that are being released but you get this peace, the sense of peacefulness, the sense of connection and relaxation that you get and calmness that you get after sexual activity and why? To promote sleep. And sleep is essential.

So you should not be considering taking a medication for sleep because sleep is like blinking your eye. It should be natural and if you aren't able to sleep, you should really look at the cause of why you're not sleeping and treat that cause instead of trying to take a medication to induce you to sleep. Maybe you should have more sexual activity, either with a partner or maybe solo.

Bao: I vote for more sexual activity.

Anne: And try to induce that natural hormonal release in your body to induce that calmness and we know the frequency… What's the optimal frequency? It's about three times a week sexual activities optimally, exercise three times a week as well, every day if you can, but at the least three times week. And I tell my patients this, so when your body doesn't tell difference whether you have orgasm or ejaculation with a partner or with solo and it's still the mechanism of erection and orgasm and ejaculation, and I tell my patient when you have that it's clearing the pipes. You need to exercise your penis muscles and you need to clear the pipe, clear the plumbing three times a week so that way you exercise those muscles. You don't use it, you lose it.

Anne And Bao’s Recent Experience

Anne: So if you don't use your penis muscle guys, it's going to start atrophying, it's going to get scarred down. It's going to get smaller, and then when you try to use it, you are surprised, "Oh, it's not working as well." Well, of course you're not using it as you should. It's like you're not going to the gym and after six months or nine months of not going to the gym you're going to expect to go in the gym and try to do that shoulder curl of a hundred pounds like you used to do? No, you're going to have to work your way into it. It's the same thing. Your penis is also a muscle itself and it needs to be worked out.

Bao: Well, I mean, I think it also helps to reduce stress and also I do know that if you have intimacy frequently per week, at least maybe three, four times a week that I feel less tense, more relaxed and now I know why from what you're saying because it's true. When you have intimacy throughout the whole week, you just feel a lot more comfortable. It's like your pipe's unclogged, your water's now running through and you feel so much better, so I can see how that's happening.

Anne: Clear the pipes. Clear the pipe. Those of you that are my patient know.

Bao: So message today is clear the pipes.

Anne: Yeah. Clear the pipes, exercise the muscles, use it or lose it. Same thing with your biceps. Your biceps curls, use it or lose it because don't expect your penis to perform if you don't train it to perform because you have to train it and there are ways that… there are penis pumps that are available and that you can exercise with. In my past episode I talk about the penis pump and how to use it and how to optimize it, and the penis pump can bring in more blood flow to the muscle. They'll help you get an erection as well and get you started as well and to help you exercise the muscle, clear the pipe and get it started.

And there's nothing wrong with doing solo if there's no partner available. Of course with a partner would be optimal situation but sometimes that is not available at the time so… To end with, sleep is critical but it's the number one thing that we give up with our busy life and running around. I have to say that we're probably at fault with that to ourselves-

Bao: We know better.

Anne: Yeah. And I know that a few weeks ago we were moving and we had maybe five hours of sleep, right?

Bao: Yeah.

Anne: We were cranky, we were not clear in our thinking and certainly not up to par at three times a week for sure.

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