The night has been lost to what it’s designed to be, the time to recharge, recover, and replenish, and I’m not just talking about your energy levels or your health, but your testosterone levels as well. Yes, a quality sleep will help you increase your testosterone levels as much as anything else, diet and exercise and effective supplementation included.
What follows isn’t just an article about why sleep is so important to your testosterone levels, but how a chronic insomniac (me) discovered how to get a great sleep all on his own after doctors prescribed some pretty useless and unreasonable solutions.
Testosterone and Sleep
Sleep is one of the biggest factors in having high or at least optimal testosterone levels. Two of the main studies that looked at healthy men - important, as many studies on testosterone look at unhealthy men, which won’t necessarily apply to healthy men - and how their testosterone levels will change depending on how much sleep they get.
Both studies found that the 8 hour of sleep group had dramatically higher testosterone levels than the 4 hour of sleep group.
In this study, the group that had 4 hours of sleep averaged around 200-300 ng/dl of testosterone.
In this study, the 4 hours of sleep group had 60% lower testosterone levels than the 8 hours of sleep group.
Of course, not all sleep is considered equal, and when it comes to your testosterone levels, REM sleep is most important.
it’s nice to know that sleep can dramatically increase your testosterone levels, but it’s another thing all-together to actually get a full night’s sleep, which is where I come in as your personal guineapig.
I’ve been to sleep doctors or whatever the hell they call themselves for years. As a wee one - well, later in high school and up until my mid twenties I had a horrible case of insomnia, a lovely word that just means I couldn’t sleep.
Calming Your Active Mind
There are virtually no sleep specialists that’ll tell you to read Meditations or On Living Well or On the Shortness of Life or Proverbs, but more than any other thing, reading and learning Stoicism or Stoic-like philosophies helped me sleep.
Most people I talk to suffer from the same issue, in one part it’s an inability to get to sleep, but a deeper issue is an inability to shut off their mind. It’s the hyper-active mind late at night that keeps most of us awake, and we typically think incredibly illogically when we’re tired and trying to fall asleep.
In fact, when we’re tired is when the fear part of our brain lights up and becomes hyper-active. Maybe in ancient times we needed this as the predators that would hunt us down would come out at night. Whatever the reason, we worry about things we have no control over and create imaginative stories about future outcomes that are incredibly unlikely to occur.
When I had insomnia I’d also dream, actively, and I love to dream but it’s not the best use of time when you ought to be sleeping.
Shutting down your mind is one of the most effective tactics for improving sleep that you’ll never come across in an article about sleep, in part, because there isn’t really a quick fix.
Sure, you don’t have to follow those lines of thought that seem to never end, but that’s easier said than done. At its core it’s a simply choice. You don’t think about that stuff. Simple. But it takes a lot of work to be able to make that choice.
And thought they’re not about sleep, reading books like Meditations, Art of Living, and other books about or by Stoics will help you shut your brain off. They will help you focus on what you can control and leave what you cannot control to God or fate or whatever you believe in.
The best ‘sleep books’ on the planet are books about stoicism and other ancient wisdoms, when they had fewer distractions today, when they thought more clearly and when they praised what worked, not what made sense.
Don’t think about things that you cannot control.
Don’t worry about things that you cannot control.
Don’t worry about the future.
Don’t regret the past.
The Un-Human Evening
In his book, The Depression Cure, Stephen Illardi argues that we’re not living human lives. Just like a lion needs to hunt, to struggle, to have a hunting party, a pride, to carry on his name and so forth, we need certain things that we’re just not getting, and many of them will actually help you sleep.
Humans are designed for endurance, for example. We used to hunt by running animals down, we’re talking deer and animals that can outrun almost every human on the planet now, and when they’d get tired, we’d kill them and eat them.
We’re one of the few animals that ‘sweat’, most animals sweat by panting, which they have to stop to do.
We also have a human diet, one high in monounsaturated fats, proteins, animals, and fruits and so forth, but much of the food we eat now is not what we’re designed to eat.
Screens are obviously not a part of a ‘natural’ evening. They emit a blue light that can hurt your sleep. Getting blue light glasses may help, but avoiding any kind of screen for at least an hour before bed will help you sleep better.
This is the second most powerful ‘tactic’ I found when improving my sleep.
You can literally train yourself to get to sleep and to sleep better. Just like your testosterone production follows a circadian rhythm, your energy and sleep do as well. The most important thing you can do for your sleep and your circadian rhythms is to have a routine.
Namely, wake up at the same time every day - especially when you’re trying to figure out how to fall asleep. Have a pre-bed routine (I’ll tell you a couple things to include in that in a sec). Have a morning routine.
Wake up early, it feels better, it allows you to get more done before everyone else wakes up, including exercise, which has also been shown to improve sleep - especially morning exercise.
One thing I did add to my routine before bed was calmomile tea. It’s been shown to reduce inflammation, helps with digestion, and helps with sleep.
It’s All About Performance
There’s this idea that by cutting sleep short you can have more time to ‘live’, to work, to create. Some say that by sleeping one hour less you have 7 hours more each week to produce, to live, and that adds up.
But - at least in my experience - both the output and the quality of output is far less when I sleep less, and far greater when I sleep better and longer.
7-8 hours of sleep every night, real sleep, not in bed sleep, but real sleep time helps me get so much more work done it’s ridiculous.
And that’s what it’s about.
It’s about performance.
By also having a massive impact on your testosterone levels, sleeping more helps you think more clearly, you have a greater sense of well-being, which helps you do better work, focus better, and focus for longer periods.
You’re a more productive and effective man when you get your sleep. So do what you’ve gotta do.
Read those books on Stoicism. Get your rhythm right. Shut down your screens. Avoid alcohol before bed, caffeine and nicotine too, and be more efficient and productive in your life.