Admit it – you likely are lacking sufficient sleep. Long hours on the job, living an overscheduled life, too many late nights watching TV or on social media, or having an enlarged prostate causing you to make several nighttime trips to pee, is taking a toll on getting a restful night of sleep. Your doctor has probably mentioned “eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise,” but do they also mention, “get a good night’s sleep?”
How much sleep do men need?
According to the National Sleep Foundation’s journal, Sleep Health, these are the recommendations broken down into age-specific categories with a time range for each:
- Older adults, sixty-five and up: seven to eight hours each night
- Adults, twenty-six to sixty-four: seven to nine hours each night
- Young adults, eighteen to twenty-five: seven to nine hours each night
Of course, depending on your genetics, behavioral and environmental factors will help determine how much sleep you require for your best health.
You may not consider being sleep deprived a health issue, but there are health ramifications. For instance, when you are short on shut-eye, it can negatively impact your health short-term:
- Lack of alertness
- Impaired memory
- Relationship stress
- Poorer quality of life
- Greater likelihood for car accidents
Even your appearance can suffer from lack of sleep leading to premature wrinkles, dark circles, and bags under your eyes.
Why adequate sleep is your best medicine
If you haven’t thought of sleep as one of your biggest health allies, it’s time you should.
If you need more convincing, here is how sleep plays a major role in your health and what happens when it’s lacking:
- Worsens heart health – Poor sleep quality is linked to heart health problems such as high blood pressure and heart attacks. In addition, shortchanging yourself on sleep can lead to a surge in stress hormones like cortisol. Stress affects everybody every day, but constant, long-term stress can increase blood cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure, all risk factors for heart disease. It also promotes plaque buildup in arteries, increasing the risk of stroke and heart attack.
- You’ll pack on pounds – If you wonder why losing weight is hard, ensure you’re getting enough sleep. Studies have found an association between sleep restriction and negative changes in metabolism. In adults, sleeping only four hours a night compared to ten hours can increase hunger and appetite – especially for calorie-dense foods high in carbohydrates. Sleeplessness ramps up production of a hormone called ghrelin, which boosts appetite, and reduces production of the hormone leptin, which signals feeling full. When you’re stressed, lack energy, and are sleep-deprived, it’s a perfect storm for craving junk food. Downing chips and sugary beverages causes your blood sugar to skyrocket and eventually crash, leaving you with a raging appetite.
- Weakens your immune system – High-quality rest can keep your immune cells and immune system proteins in fighting shape to help you resist colds, the flu, and other infections.
- Brain health suffers – Your brain on sleep deprivation is not a pretty sight. Too many sleepless nights set you up for unclear thinking, an inability to focus, and difficulty in memory recall. This can lead to potentially disastrous mistakes at work or at home. Conversely, proper sleep is linked to improved concentration and higher cognitive functioning.
- A fizzled sex life – Being too exhausted for sex is no way to live. But when you lack quality shut-eye, your testosterone levels can suffer. Men who sleep less than six hours nightly have lower levels of testosterone, which can quickly sink your sex life since low levels of this hormone can result in erectile dysfunction.
- Frequent headaches – A common headache trigger is inadequate sleep. People living with headaches have almost twice the rates of insomnia as those with infrequent headaches. So a good start to reducing headaches is to get regular sleep.
- Feeling pessimistic – Getting a well-rested night of sleep makes you feel optimistic. As a result, you have more energy and drive, and you’re less likely to let small challenges such as a heavy workload or traffic lead to frustration or anger. Conversely, sleepless nights make you cranky, irritable, and more vulnerable to stress and anxiety.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.