June is for the guys: with Father’s Day just a few days away, and Men’s Health Week in the works, this month is the prime time to think about all the men in your life and be sure your loved ones are prioritizing their health. Let’s have a conversation about sleep deprivation in men.
Do the men in your life hesitate to see a doctor if they’re not feeling well? Men face specific challenges when it comes to all aspects of health-just as women do- but due to fear of seeming weak and thanks to some outdated stereotypes, there is more of a delay. Societal pressures have resulted in men feeling as though they need to ‘tough it out and play down any mental or physical pain they feel. We must encourage the men in our lives to take these mental and physical ‘red flags’ seriously. One of those troubles is lack of sleep.
There has been an attitude surrounding sleep as something that takes last priority in our days. If there is more work to be done, we take hours away from precious sleep instead of managing our time in more efficient and effective ways. We have social and cultural expectations to thank for the glorification of pushing past healthy limits to live up to so-called high performer “standards”. Yes, there should always be a great emphasis on work ethic and productivity, but high performance is a result of optimal sleep every night.
There is a time and place to work despite drowsiness. Those nights we have all been there-staying up later than we know we should to accomplish tasks, leave us irritable and in a mental fog for the entirety of the next day. In fact, studies show being awake for at least 18 hours is the same as someone having a blood content (BAC) of 0.05%. Being awake for at least 24 hours is equal to having a blood alcohol content of 0.10%.
We don’t want that.
Not Sleeping? Say Goodbye to your sex drive.
Sleep deprivation isn’t the only culprit behind low libido. It is linked to testosterone levels and sleep.
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is a critical hormone for both men and women
In men, it’s produced in the testicles in response to signals from the pituitary gland and adrenal glands. It is responsible for the physical changes that happen to males during puberty, muscle growth, and sperm production. It is a key hormone in several bodily processes for both men and women.
Without adequate sleep, men are missing out on the optimal production of one of the most important hormones for men, testosterone. It is the key to several bodily processes for men and women. However, if men routinely sleep 4-5 hours a night, they will have a level of testosterone which is that of someone 10 years their senior.
Signs of Low Testosterone in Men
- Low Sex Drive
- Hair Loss
- Low Energy
- Low Mental Capacity
- Loss of Muscle Mass
- Increased Body Fat
- Memory Loss
- Decreased Bone Mass
Less Sleep = Weight Gain?
It’s all about the hormones and the endocrine system, a complex system indeed. Although testosterone isn’t the only hormone that is negatively affected by lack of sleep, it’s a pretty big deal for men, especially. Having less testosterone makes it more difficult for men to maintain a healthy weight. It can lead to an increased BMI, low energy levels, and therefore, a lack of motivation.
On top of this, metabolic risk factors are contributors to having a higher risk for diabetes and serious sleep disorders.
Emotional health takes a toll on no sleep
Sleep deprivation will impact your thoughts, emotions, and ability to have clarity. Just one night of little sleep produces a foggy inner state. Just imagine how over time this might impact one’s mental health and well-being with always being in a state of fog. Prolonged periods of sleep deprivation can lead to depression and anxiety.
Imagine functioning daily with a brain that thinks it’s intoxicated!
Sleep deprivation leads to a weakened immune system
This holds true for everyone, but men have statistically been shown to attempt to ‘tough out illnesses at home instead of visiting a doctor. Add this on top of constant sleep deprivation, it becomes a recipe for disaster.
Insomnia has a startling link to cancers more likely to affect men
Studies and research are just beginning to realize how sleep health impacts our cancer risk as a whole, but we do know that men who do shift work without napping during the day are 43% more likely to be diagnosed with cancer.
Another study that followed over 400,000 American men over three decades found that men who reported getting three to five hours of sleep consistently were over 50% more likely to die of prostate cancer when compared to men who reported getting seven hours or more a night.
Sleep deprivation leads to immediate physical risks in Men
Remember how we mentioned a sleep-deprived brain resembling that of an intoxicated brain?
Well, imagine the potential dangers of allowing a sleep-deprived person to drive a car, operate heavy machinery, or lead a business meeting. Although leading a business meeting doesn’t present immediate life or death risks, it can potentially make or break one’s future in their career. Fatal industrial accidents are 70% more likely to occur when one of the involved parties is sleep-deprived.
This Sunday, we will celebrate all of the awesome fathers in our lives and families, so it’s a perfect time to reflect on the health of the men we know and love.
If you’re the one that’s going to be king for a day, maybe you should start with a nice sleep-in or a midday nap, and then give yourself the gift of committing to healthy sleep.