Loss of Libido
My Sex Drive is Gone. Anybody Seen It?
Sleep deficiencies are impairing your sex life.
Sleep is essential to every organism's health. Sleep allows us to function. It maintains our body’s internal processes, including our heart health and immune system. This also goes for our sex drive. Researchers have found key links between poor sleep health and a poor sex drive.
Mental Health, Libido, and Sleep
According to Harvard Health Publishing, sleep problems affect 50-80% of patients in a “typical psychiatric practice” compared to 10-18% of adults in the general public. Why is this? Well, because mental health and sleep are closely linked. In fact, it’s theorized that a portion of the population suffers from mental health ailments due to their inability to receive adequate sleep. This is because when the sleep cycle is disrupted, so are the processes that help us deal with our emotions, memory, learning, and decision making.
As noted by Resources to Recovery, an organization that helps connect people to mental health treatment and services, intimacy is incredibly beneficial to those who deal with mental health ailments; but these ailments also make it much more difficult for these individuals to be intimate. Particular mental health issues, and their accompanying medications, can lower libido and/or cause sexual dysfunction. This is worsened by inefficient sleep.
Testosterone and Sleep
Testosterone has a direct impact on libido. Low testosterone levels equal a low sex drive – of which a lack of sleep can often be the main aggitator. Poor sleep health will lead to testosterone imbalances which will lead to a lack of desire to have sex, impotence, and related disorders.
While much of the research we have available today is on sleep’s impact on testosterone levels in men, women also suffer from sexual dysfunction due to imbalanced testosterone levels caused by poor sleep.
One particular 2017 study addressed this issue. Researchers found that women are likely to experience sexual dysfunction from poor sleep, but with a unique twist: their symptoms were dependent on their natural testosterone levels. For women who sleep poorly, not on oral contraceptives, and with naturally higher testosterone levels, they found themselves having sex, and wanting to have sex, infrequently when sleep deprived. For women who sleep poorly and have naturally low testosterone levels, they found themselves experiencing greater sexual dissatisfaction when consistently receiving inadequate sleep.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Libido
In 2012, a study was conducted on 92 non-diabetic men under the age of 60 who had recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea. At the beginning of the study, 46% of the men reported that they were suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED) and 27% of the men reported having a low libido. The study had the men undergo CPAP therapy for their sleep apnea. By the end of the study, the researchers were absolutely impressed with the results – as a result of their treatment, the men’s sexual function and satisfaction improved, particularly for the men who suffer from ED.
One study conducted on the topic of sleep apnea and testosterone levels found that nearly one-third of men in the study who had severe sleep apnea also had reduced levels of testerone.
Here’s the thing: Sleep apnea directly impacts testerone levels. While researchers are still figuring out why exactly this is, a 2019 study provides some additional insight into this phenomenon. According to the authors of the study, OSA contributes to low testosterone because it limits an individual’s oxygen intake and disrupts their sleep cycle multiple times throughout the night; and as discussed above, when you receive inadequate sleep, your testosterone levels are naturally going to decrease. Quality sleep of an adequate quantity is essential to hormone production, including testosterone.
To guarantee a healthy libido, you need to live a healthy lifestyle and healthy sleep. Eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet. Manage your stress. Exercise and get your heart pumping regularly, and most notably, focus on getting the best sleep you can.
Regaining control over your sleep starts with speaking to a doctor. By expressing to your general practitioner or physician the difficulties you’ve been experiencing, they will be able to refer you to a sleep specialist that can diagnose and treat you.. If you are suffering from sleep apnea, an oral appliance may be just what you need to get back on track.
Oral appliances may not be the sexiest thing in the world, but they are definitely sexier (and much more comfortable than) a CPAP machine. Learn more about oral appliance therapy by clicking here.
Ready to take control of your sleep apnea? Click here to schedule a consultation.