It’s a fact of life: we all need sleep. When we don’t get enough of it, we tend to feel irritated, drained, and fatigued the following day. The CDC even recommends that we spend at least 7 hours a day in an uninterrupted state of slumber—or a little under a third of our day.
However, for some people, the prospect of sleeping soundly doesn’t come easy. The presence of disorders like obstructive sleep apnea – a condition that obstructs breathing when you’re asleep – is incurable. This disease can disrupt your sleep, making it difficult to get the recommended amount of shut-eye.
Thankfully, the advancement of technology has allowed devices like CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines to aid patients with sleep disorders to doze off better at night.
But for those who’re predisposed with sleep disorders like sleep apnea, there’s always a fear that it could lead to other health problems down the line, such as erectile dysfunction (ED).
But the question remains: does sleep apnea cause erectile dysfunction?
Let’s find out more about obstructive sleep apnea and its connection with erectile dysfunction.
What is Sleep Apnea, Exactly?
Sleep apnea is a disorder that occurs during sleep where your breathing suddenly stops.
When this occurs, oxygen levels in the body drop quickly, which can give rise to sleep apnea symptoms in men such as the following:
- Waking up frequently during the night
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Hypersomnia or fatigue
- Difficulty falling asleep at night or insomnia
- Headaches in the morning
- Dry mouth
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
Apart from the above, loud snoring is often regarded as the hallmark symptom of severe sleep apnea.
If you or your loved one has noticed that you have a loud snore, on top of the aforementioned symptoms, it’s best to consult with a doctor for them to provide medical advice.
REM Sleep and Testosterone Development
Sleep is composed of four different stages. These stages follow a structured order, as seen below:
- Lightest sleep: Slowed breathing and heartbeat, slow eye movements, and sudden muscle spasms.
- Light sleep (NREM 1): Slower breathing and heartbeats; body temperature begins to cool.
- Deeper (NREM 2): Tissues begin to regrow and repair; heart rate and breathing are at their lowest.
- REM sleep: Heart rate and breathing increase, memories from dreams form, eye movements pick up.
REM sleep typically occurs at 1 hour and thirty minutes after you fall asleep. It also cycles every 90 minutes.
Testosterone levels are generally at their highest during REM sleep, according to a medical journal published in the National Institutes of Health.
This is why disrupted REM sleep – caused by conditions like sleep apnea – can hurt testosterone production, which could lead to hypogonadal symptoms and potentially erectile dysfunction.
Furthermore, medical experts have also discovered that fragmented sleep caused by obstructive sleep apnea is a major cause of sexual dysfunction.
This evidence proves one thing: being sleep deprived plays a significant role in testosterone production levels.
In other words, if you have sleep loss, you’ll be severely limiting the amount of testosterone your body will be able to produce, which consequently affects sexual function.
Does Low Testosterone Lead to Erectile Dysfunction?
With testosterone levels and sleep apnea interlinked, this begs the question: does low testosterone cause ED?
Testosterone is a hormone that’s responsible for the development of male sexual characteristics, such as a beard and deep voice. It is also responsible for producing seminal fluid that helps transport sperm from the testicles to the urethra during ejaculation.
If you’re experiencing low testosterone levels, you may have a decreased interest in sex and a loss of muscular strength. You’re also more likely to have erectile dysfunction if you have low T, although it should be stated that low testosterone doesn’t necessarily cause it.
Low testosterone, however, is often linked with diseases that can also be found in patients with erectile dysfunction. This includes:
- Endothelial dysfunction
- High blood pressure
- Metabolic syndrome
While there’s no immediate connection, there’s more than enough evidence to see that sexual health is often linked with the effectiveness of other body systems and organs.
Thus, it’s important to undergo lifestyle changes to ensure that you remain healthy and strong for years to come.
Home Remedies for Sleep Apnea and Erectile Dysfunction
If you’re diagnosed with sleep apnea or some other common sleep disorder, the good news is that you can treat sleep apnea.
However, you should ensure that you do, in fact, have sleep apnea and not just any other type of sleep problem.
If you take treatment for your sleep apnea but have undiagnosed erectile dysfunction, your sleep apnea treatment may not be the most beneficial. The same goes for the opposite case.
It’s best to consult with a medical doctor to get a proper diagnosis, especially since treatment plans for ED and sleep apnea don’t normally cross over.
Nonetheless, here are some changes you can implement to improve these conditions at home, in addition to consulting an ED specialist.
Get a CPAP machine
A CPAP machine can help to improve your poor sleep quality and reduce sleep deprivation and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. These sleep-disordered breathing machines host features that allow you to breathe better during sleep.
Many different medications can be prescribed to help improve erectile function, such as sildenafil, tadalafil, and vardenafil. Talk to your doctor to see if one of these medications could be a good fit for you.
If you’re experiencing insomnia or sleep deprivation, sleep medicine like Melatonin can also be useful to help you sleep better.
Eat a proper diet
Make sure to eat a well-balanced diet that includes all four food groups, and limit your alcohol intake. Fish rich in omega-3 fat and green, leafy vegetables are often some of the best foods to add to your diet to improve your sexual health.
Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight or obese can put stress on your body and lead to health consequences like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease – all of which can contribute to erectile dysfunction.
Losing weight through watching what you eat and exercising regularly can help improve your sexual health.
Final Words on Sleep Apnea and ED
Erectile dysfunction is a common disease that affects nearly half of all men over 40 years old. With a variety of disorders contributing to ED, it can be hard to imagine that sleep is in any way connected with a man’s sexual desire, compared to diabetes or heart disease.
However, that assumption couldn’t be further to the truth—as patients with sleep apnea can also be ED patients, especially if they have testosterone deficiency and live an unhealthy lifestyle.
Seek professional medical advice if your quality of life is diminishing due to decreased libido or sexual problems. If you’re having issues with erectile dysfunction, PE, or Low-T, call the team at Prestige Men’s Medical Center in Tampa now to schedule an appointment to have a consultation with their experienced and specially trained medical staff.