Do you need an excuse to lay in?

Experts in assisted reproduction gathered last week in Philadelphia for the annual American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) Congress. This interesting presentation examines the need for quality sleep to obtain quality sperm.

Good quality sleep is something to which we all aspire

But for men, there is an added benefit, optimal testosterone levels are associated with good sleep patterns.

Researchers from Denver, USA studied the sleep patterns of 2,296 males between the ages of 16 and 80 years of age. They compared these sleep patterns with their testosterone levels.

The men slept from two to 12 hours per night, averaging around 7 hours. There was a wide variation in their testosterone levels, from 43ng to 779ng per 100ml of serum. A nanogram (ng) is only one billionth of a gram, this indicates the potency of the male hormone!

In conducting this research, the investigators were also able to look at other factors, as well as sleep that affect testosterone levels. From the data they calculated the likely level of negative impact on testosterone levels (per 100 ml of serum).

They found the following correlations:

  • Every lost hour of sleep decreases testosterone by 5.85ng
  • Each additional year of age decreases the level of testosterone by 0.49ng
  • Each additional BMI unit decreases the level of testosterone by 6.18ng
  • Each unit of alcohol intake decreases the level of testosterone by 2.99ng

Dr. Robert Brannigan, ASRM Board of Directors, said “Reduction in testosterone level can have deleterious effects on a man’s health beyond his fertility and sexual function. Testosterone is essential for good metabolic function and decreased levels of the hormone are associated with metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. Low testosterone can contribute to fatigue and depression, as well. A balanced diet and a healthy sleep routine are interventions a man can take on his own to help keep his testosterone levels stable.”

Previous research has also found a link to quality of sleep and the health of sperm

It was observed that the men who slept for less than 6 hours were 31% less likely to impregnate their partners than men who slept between 7-8 hours.

That study also found that men who reported trouble staying asleep throughout the night were 28% less likely to get their partner pregnant than those who had no problems.

However, the 2017 study did not take into account other factors, problematic for sperm health that also affect sleep patterns. These factors include smoking or drinking too much or carrying too much extra weight. So, the new study is very useful in potentially quantifying the additional negative impacts of these factors.

Advice for men

The best advice therefore seems to be to aim for 7-8 hours of solid sleep if you’re looking to become a father in the near future.

It’s also a good idea for men to start working on their sleep habits about three months before they want to start trying to conceive with their partner. This is because sperm cells mature in around 72 days, so it might take around two months or so to experience a fertility boost due to better sleep patterns.