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How Sleep Can Improve Testosterone Production

Imagine walking into your boss’ office and telling them that you want a pay rise. The boss considers it for a second and says that if you want a pay rise you will have to agree to have a two-hour nap at 3 pm every day. Good deal right? Well, if you want a testosterone rise, you are going to need to sleep more.

At some point in the last twenty years, it became fashionable for successful people to boast about how little sleep they got. Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, famously declared that he worked 18-20 hours per day, which means that he would get a maximum of 6 hours sleep per night, but probably far less.

Donald Trump claimed to only sleep 5 hours each night, while WWE Chairman Vince McMahon averages just 4 hours per night.

This has led to an almost fetishization of bad sleep practices. The idea being that while you’re sleeping your competitor is out-hustling you. That if you could only avoid sleeping for a few nights each week, you too could become President of the United States, or invent the next social media sensation.

But the truth is that sleeping poorly has no advantages and many negatives. Trump, McMahon, and Dorsey got success in spite of their poor sleeping habits, not because of them. In this article, we will be taking a look at how employing a sleep strategy can help you to boost your testosterone, increase energy, raise your libido, help lose weight, and build muscle.

What Causes Bad Sleep?

According to the Sleep Foundation, 35.2% of Americans sleep fewer than 7 hours each night. In the UK, 36% of adults struggle to fall asleep at least one night per week. So, why is this? What causes bad sleep?

The sad truth is that for a lot of people, bad sleep is due to poverty. Poorer people are more likely to work two jobs. They are also more likely to work night shifts and are much more likely to have a poor work/life balance.

That’s not to say that people with higher incomes are immune from long hours and stress. The point we are making is not about income and inequality, it’s that bad sleep is often not a choice. The celebrities mentioned above all had the option of how long they wanted to sleep. You may not. Here are some common causes of bad sleep:


We’ll be looking at stress in more detail later on, but stress, anxiety, and depression are often the most likely cause of bad sleep. Anyone who has ever spent a night tossing and turning over an unpaid bill or an argument they had with a friend, will know just how difficult it can be to get a good night’s sleep when stressed.


Overtraining provides a strong case for the maxim “you can have too much of a good thing”. Exercise has many health benefits and is a fantastic way to boost your testosterone levels. But an intense workout creates stress, and you need to properly recover from it. Failing to recover properly, and training too often can cause a number of side effects. Bad sleep is one of them.

High Body Fat

We’ve previously looked at how bad sleep can lead to increased body fat and low testosterone, but there also appears to be some evidence that high body fat can lead to bad sleep. Studies have shown that losing body fat can actually improve sleep quality [1].

According to researchers at Harvard University, the most likely cause of bad sleep amongst overweight and obese people is obstructive sleep apnea [2]. This is where your airways become blocked temporarily while you sleep, forcing your body to wake up so that you can breathe.

Reducing your body fat can reduce the risk of your airways becoming blocked while you sleep and improve the quality and duration of your sleep.


There are many ways in which your career can affect your sleep quality. Stress is a common issue, as is travel (for some). But the biggest issue is one that only affects around 20% of the workforce. Shift-work. Night shifts, very early morning shifts, and evening shifts, can all affect your sleep quality and duration. Particularly if your shifts change regularly.

Night shifts affect sleep really badly and are associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease [3]. This is because working at night and sleeping during the day can affect your circadian rhythms.

However, what is arguably worse is extreme shift changes. For example, having to wake up at 5 am for work on a Monday, then having to work the late shift (2 pm till 10 pm) on Tuesday. Meaning that your bedtime will change dramatically each day, and you will be forced to wake up at completely different times.

Of course, there are ways to deal with both of these issues, and we will be covering them in this article. But work can have the biggest influence on your sleep.


A 2019 study found that having a child can affect your sleep for up to six years [4]. The study also found that while women lost an average of an hour’s sleep each night, men lost just 13 minutes. Still, there is a lot of evidence that having a baby can seriously affect sleep quality in men.

Noise Pollution

Want to know what’s worse than a crying baby? Hearing your neighbour’s crying baby and being powerless to stop it. Or hearing loud drum and bass music at 4 am. Noise pollution is a huge issue when it comes to sleep, and it can lead to increased stress and anxiety, as you have to negotiate with sometimes hostile neighbours when things get out of hand.


Travelling across hemispheres is well-known for causing insomnia, it even has a name, “jet lag”. The term jet lag refers to a number of conditions that are associated with travelling across time zones: fatigue, depressive symptoms, loss of appetite, and digestive issues, but insomnia is the most well-known symptom [5]. As with shift work, travel can affect your circadian rhythms, making it harder to fall asleep and reducing sleep quality.

But it isn’t just long-distance travel. Shorter journeys can affect your sleep, due to increased stress, unfamiliar locations, and differing temperatures.


What you eat and drink, and when, can make a big difference to your sleep quality. Eating a giant steak 30 minutes before bed is going to keep you up for hours as your body attempts to digest it. A large black coffee at 6 pm could also affect your sleep, as caffeine can stay in your system for up to 8 hours.

A 2013 study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that consuming caffeine six hours before your bedtime could negatively affect your sleep [6]. A good rule of thumb is to avoid caffeine after 4 pm, but this can vary depending on what time you usually go to bed.


Many people consciously choose how long they sleep. This could be because they enjoy staying up late or because they feel the need to get up early and be productive. They may mistakenly believe that they don’t need much sleep and will get more things done by being awake for longer. As we will discover in this article, they couldn’t be more wrong.

How Sleep Affects Testosterone and Health

Sleep affects testosterone both directly and indirectly. There is a lot of evidence that a single bad night can immediately lead to inhibited testosterone production. With testosterone production down 10-15% after just one week of restricted sleep [7].

Perhaps 15% doesn’t sound too bad but considering the fact that men usually only lose around 1% testosterone per year as they age, a 15% loss in just one week is astounding. It is unlikely that you would continue to lose 15% more each week, but unless you improve your sleep, you would continue to produce 15% less testosterone than you would normally.

But bad sleep can indirectly affect testosterone as well, and the results can be just as costly. Bad sleep has been shown to increase cortisol levels [8] which can lower testosterone production by inhibiting luteinizing hormone (LH) [9]. LH is responsible for stimulating your testes into making testosterone, so anything that inhibits LH will lead to lower testosterone production.

Sleep can also affect your weight. It does in a number of ways. Studies have found that a lack of sleep can lead to an increase in ghrelin production and a reduction in leptin [10]. Ghrelin is a hormone that is responsible for making you feel hungry. Increasing your ghrelin production will cause you to feel hungrier during the day.

Leptin is a hormone that is responsible for helping you feel full (sated) after eating. High leptin levels will help you to feel full after a meal, while low leptin levels will mean that you have to eat more food to feel full.

As you can imagine, this fateful combination of increased appetite and reduced satiety often leads to overeating, and inevitably weight gain. But it isn’t just the effect that bad sleep has on appetite; bad sleep can also affect the choices that you make.

Bad sleep has been found to stimulate the endocannabinoid (eCB) system. This is the system that is stimulated by cannabis use and is responsible for that well-known sensation “the munchies” where you seek out high-calorie snacks.

A 2016 study tested this out, splitting participants into two groups [11]. One group had disrupted sleep, while the other group had a normal night’s sleep. The next day, both groups were allowed to choose what foods they ate, and in what quantities.

Interestingly, the sleep-deprived group did not consume more calories, but what researchers noted was that the sleep-deprived group consistently chose the higher calorie, less nutritious foods (i.e., junk food).

Increased appetite and seeking out higher-calorie junk food quite clearly lead to weight gain in the long term. As we have already discussed, increasing your body fat can significantly lower testosterone.

Bad sleep can also increase the likelihood of several other health issues:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes (Type II)

It can also increase your risk of becoming dependent on alcohol and it can increase your risk of accidents by affecting reaction time and slowing cognition.

Bottom Line: Increasing the duration and quality of your sleep will help to support healthy testosterone levels, improve your health, and reduce your risk of certain diseases.

How to Improve Your Sleep and Increase Testosterone

After reading about the many downsides to having poor sleep, we can now look at ways to improve your sleep and deal with the benefits.

The benefits of sleeping well are basically the opposites of each negative. Improved energy, mood, and cognition. Increased libido, higher testosterone levels, healthy blood pressure levels. All the good things! Here are seven steps that you can take to improve your sleep quality and duration:

Step One: Create a Sleep Schedule

This is quite an easy step to do, but it requires you to take control of your lifestyle. You know how beneficial sleeping 7 or 8 hours per night can be, so all you have to do is schedule those hours into your day.

If you wake up at 7 am every morning to get ready for work, then you are going to need to go to bed at 11 pm each night to ensure you get 7-8 hours of sleep. Or more accurately, you need to begin your pre-bed routine (see step two) at 10:30 pm.

For the first week or two, you may struggle to set this schedule up, but once you do your whole life will begin to fit around your sleep schedule. Rather than the other way around.

After a couple of weeks, your circadian rhythms will adjust, and you’ll find that you can fall asleep quicker (called sleep onset latency) and wake up feeling fresher. Your body will have adapted to your sleep schedule. This can be hugely beneficial.

Obviously, if your shifts at work are constantly changing, you can’t have the same bedtime each night. But you can still mitigate the problem, by planning out your sleep schedule in advance. You won’t get quite the same benefits, but you will be much better off than you would be without a schedule.

Step Two: Create a Routine

Creating a sleep routine is essential for your sleep schedule to work properly. All of the steps on this list feed into your routine. Put simply, your sleep routine should start around 30-60 minutes before you plan on falling asleep. It can look something like this:

  • Brush teeth
  • Lie in bed, reading a book or listening to a podcast for 30 minutes
  • Meditate for 5-10 minutes
  • Close your eyes and drift off to sleep

Pretty simple huh? It’s just the execution that people struggle with. Setting an alarm ten minutes before you have to brush your teeth is a good idea, as it can help you to stop what you are doing and get started on your sleep routine.

The example above is a simple one, and you can add stuff to it if you want. For example, you may find that drinking chamomile and lavender tea helps you to relax and fall asleep quicker. If this is the case, then you can add it in before brushing your teeth and adjust the times to create your own routine.

Step Three: Avoid Caffeine After 4 pm

Caffeine can stay in your system for 6-8 hours (sometimes longer) and can make it difficult to fall asleep. Avoiding caffeine after 4 pm can ensure that you aren’t affected by its stimulating properties when lying in bed. This step might be worth experimenting with, if you go to bed earlier than most people then adjust the time that you have your last coffee or tea.

Step Four: Meditate

There is a common misconception about what meditation involves. Many people assume it requires a lot of time spent in the lotus position while the sounds of clinking bells accompany the smell of incense. While all of that can be a part of certain types of meditation, it is not what we are talking about here.

Meditation is about focusing on your breathing and trying to relax. Spending 10 minutes listening to your breathing and concentrating on just that is all you need to do, and the results can be amazing. While not fixing every issue that can affect sleep, mindfulness/meditation has been shown to be very effective at improving sleep quality [12].

Ten minutes before you want to fall asleep, put down your book, lie back on your pillow, close your eyes and just listen to the sound of your breathing. That’s all you have to do, and it can really help you to drift off to sleep quicker.

Step Five: Avoid Electrical Stimulation

Turn your phone off, put your kindle down, turn the TV off, and avoid electronic devices for 20-30 minutes before you start your meditation. Instead, try reading, which has been shown to help you fall asleep.

There is some evidence that television shows and films that are comforting rather than stimulating can help in this regard (i.e., watch a film that you have seen 20 times before and is unlikely to stimulate your mind). But for some people, any form of television watching is just going to make sleep more difficult. Podcasts or audiobooks are acceptable, provided they aren’t too exciting, loud, or mentally stimulating.

Step Six: Create a Comfortable Environment

Put it this way, which do you think would be easier to fall asleep on, a mountain of fluffy pillows and a brand new mattress, or a pile of jagged rocks? The pillows right? Exactly. That may have been an exaggerated example, but getting yourself more comfortable pillows, a sturdy mattress, and soft sheets can actually improve your sleep quality quite a lot.

Step Seven: Make Dietary Changes

While it is often a good idea to avoid food before bed as digestion can interfere with sleep, there are some foods and drinks that can help with improving sleep quality. Foods that are high in the amino acid l-tryptophan are a great example of this. L-tryptophan has been shown to increase melatonin production, which helps to make sleep easier and higher in quality [13].

Foods that are high in L-tryptophan include dairy products, lean meats such as turkey, bananas, oats, seeds, tuna, and nuts. Finding foods that are high in vitamin D can also help, or you can of course use a testosterone booster that contains vitamin D!

Finding foods and drinks that reduce stress and anxiety can also be helpful, lavender tea, chamomile tea, supplements that contain ashwagandha, Rhodiola Rosea, and similar ingredients can also help you to fall asleep quicker.

An example of making dietary changes to improve sleep quality could look something like this. One hour before you plan on falling asleep drink a lavender and chamomile tea and heat a handful of nuts. The lavender and chamomile will help to relax you, while the l-tryptophan in the nuts will help to boost melatonin.

Final Thoughts

By now you should have a good idea of why sleeping longer (and better) will help you to support healthy testosterone production. You should also have a good idea as to how to achieve that. All you need to do now is create your own sleep strategy and routine, and start following them immediately, after two weeks you should start to see amazing results, and your testosterone levels will soar.