May 15, 2010
Testosterone Decline Reduces Sleep Quality?

Do guys get poorer sleep with age due to declining testosterone?

Montreal, May 14, 2010 At 30 years old, male testosterone levels drop by one to two percent annually. By age 40, men's quality of sleep begins to diminish. Could there be a link between decreased testosterone and reduced sleep? Absolutely according to Zoran Sekerovic, a graduate student from the University of Montreal Department of Psychology, who presented his findings at the annual conference of the Association francophone pour le savoir (ACFAS).

Sekerovic discovered a link between testosterone levels in men over 50 and their quality of sleep specifically less deep sleep i.e. Phases III and IV of the slumber cycle. "Deep sleep is when the recuperation of body and mind is optimal," says Sekerovic, adding his is the first study to find this correlation.

Anyone know ways to increase the amount of deep sleep? You get less deep sleep as you age. That seems like a change we should want to avoid.

In young men, deep sleep represents 10 to 20 percent of total sleep. By age 50, it decreases to five to seven percent. For men over 60, it can disappear altogether. The study didn't find any correlation with other parts of the sleep cycle: falling asleep, Phases I and II, or paradoxical sleep, when most of dreaming occurs.

Other changes to the brain decrease sleep quality and even these researchers find only 20% of reduced deep sleep is down to lower testosterone.

The University of Montreal researcher explains that men in their 20s don't have such a correlation because their neuronal circuits are intact. "With age, there is neuronal loss and the synchronization of cerebral activity isn't as good, which is why there is a loss of deep sleep. Because deep sleep requires great synchronization," says Sekerovic. "Low levels of testosterone intensify the lack of synchronization and can explain 20 percent of men's inability to experience deep sleep."

So how to increase the amount of deep sleep one gets?

Update: The study above is in need of an obvious follow-up: an interventional trial that tests whether testosterone injections improve quantity of deep sleep. What I also wonder: Is it the testosterone or the dihydrotestosterone that boosts deep sleep? To put it another way: Do dutasteride and finasteride (which block the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone) boost or lower the amount of deep sleep that guys get?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 May 15 05:11 PM  Aging Brain Studies

James Bowery said at May 15, 2010 7:45 PM:

These guys may or may not know how to do it but they sure as hell are gathering the required data.

I suspect that they don't actually know how nearly as well as they could if they'd admit their ignorance and actually test a variety of alternate hypotheses in some large scale _controlled_ experiments with their customer base.

Full disclosure: I bought one of these.

AC1 said at May 16, 2010 11:35 AM:

Depression in Males is also linked to low testosterone, I wonder if less good sleep is the cause?

Tom Billings said at May 16, 2010 12:44 PM:

Hmmmm,...Odd that a research team would not mention what was reported in their own field nearly 50 years ago, or perhaps not. In the early 1960s I was reading reports that noted several things about testosterone's effects on primates. First, for levels within the normal range of male testosterone levels, a temporarily boosted testosterone level in humans and other primates actually resulted in greater calmness, more focus, and better muscle tone, along with more sexual arousal reported in the humans. The monkeys weren't asked about that. It is notable that orgasm, as well as successful dominance behavior, in humans and other primates increases testosterone levels. If the calmness reported at those higher levels still within normal human ranges is regarded as a reward, then we have this testosterone boost as a reward cycle, that trains people to like certain behaviors, like sex and dominating others. There were also reports that unethical "doctor feel-goods" would provide injected cocktails of hormones and vitamins that included testosterone. Testosterone as a "feel good" hormone would make sense.

It may be no accident at all that sex and dominance are often linked, if their reward mechanism is the same-higher testosterone levels. BDSM games would both make a dominant partner feel better, by providing two superpositioned boosts to testosterone, and possibly reward the "bottom" involved with more sex, because the "top" got their higher rewards.

By the late 1960s I would already see the occasional report that artificially super high testosterone levels far above the normal human range were inducing rages all too often. By the early 1970s I was wondering if testosterone was enhancing endorphin activity the way salt enhances the taste of food. Also, it may be similar, in that, just like salt, when the levels go beyond the normal human range, the effect is reversed. Too much salt, and food can become grossly inedible. Too much testosterone substitute for weightlifting success, and calmness is replaced by rage? Seems logical, but about then I found this interest displaced as other things took my time ever more.

If the inverse of these early indicators also takes place, where lower testosterone levels make for less calmness, less focus, etc., then we would have a good reason for believing the above observations would be in line with previous research. This is reinforced by other early reports on research into human male behavior, in which it was noted that when a male was rested and refreshed, and had an orgasm, then he was more relaxed and more aroused, and often the arousal was expressed in further behavior when with a partner. However, as many women complain about, men would often fall asleep after a single orgasm, if they were not rested and refreshed before beginning sex, at least to the extent those early logs of behavior and rest could accurately gauge that. This would indicate that a higher testosterone level may have been the reason men fall asleep when really exhausted after sex, at the same time it suggests the article's research may be seeing the inverse of that pattern.

I have not followed the field for decades now. Has anyone seen anything on such behaviors, and any link between improved sleep and testoterone levels that is more recent than the early 1970s?

billcat said at May 16, 2010 12:55 PM:

Could it also be connected with decreased growth hormone secretion with age? These hormones are cross correlated every which way, and hgh production is also decreasing markedly from the late twenties/early thirties. Hgh is secreted in pulses throughout the day, but characteristic for males is that most of the hgh is secreted in the pulse after you fall asleep at night. Women have more even-sized pulses throughout the day.
Anyhow, I have read on discussion board that lifters who are using growth hormone releasing peptides like ghrp-6 and grf1-29 in combination report much better sleep when these are administered before bedtime.
It would have been interesting if they had included hgh levels into the study.

As far as I understand nerve cells have very few androgen receptors, and hence are not very sensitive to the direct influence of testosterone or dht. (Hence, the testosterone=aggression myth is just that, a myth. It's like studies on homeopathy, the better and more rigorous the study, the smaller the effect becomes)
Of course, testosterone and it's derivatives have all sorts of effects throughout the body, so secondary effects influencing sleep are probably likely.

Tom Billings said at May 21, 2010 10:44 AM:

As known for many years, testoterone has effects on women, though apparently not the sleep inducing one. If the cartoon at today's "Questionable Content" comic site (number 1670) is correct, then it might have the opposite effect on sleep for at least some women, but the same linkage to self-assertion/dominance. ;-)

Have Fun!

James Bowery said at May 24, 2010 8:48 AM:

After gaining regular access to my own sleep stage data, and adjust my daytime behavior accordingly, I've been able to get my REM up to 2 and 3/4 hours and deep sleep up to 3/4 hour. I'm 56 years old. No testosterone supplements.

John Doe said at May 15, 2011 10:23 AM:

hmmm I think the quality of sleep can be improved using some simple tricks. Age does have an influence yet there is much to be done to counter the decline in quality, read the following link and you will see:

Post a comment
Name (not anon or anonymous):
Email Address:
Remember info?

Go Read More Posts On FuturePundit
Site Traffic Info
The contents of this site are copyright