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The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Low Testosterone

The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Low Testosterone

Low testosterone can do a job on you physically and emotionally. Men and women both produce testosterone, though men make more than women. This vital hormone regulates sex drive, muscle and bone health, energy levels, and mood. It even plays a role in fertility for both sexes. 

Many factors can disrupt your testosterone level, but one of the lesser-known culprits is sleep quality — so if you have sleep apnea, there may be a connection. Here, our hormone specialists at The Endocrine Center in Houston, Texas, explain the two-way relationship between low testosterone and sleep apnea.

How sleep apnea affects your sleep

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when something blocks your airways as you sleep. Your throat muscles and the surrounding tissues relax and collapse inward, interfering with your ability to breathe in and out. 

Eventually, your brain registers the disruption and startles you enough to correct the problem, but it happens repeatedly throughout the night — up to 30 times per hour in severe cases. Sleep apnea also causes loud snoring in some, thanks to the vibrating and rattling sound of your throat tissues when air struggles to pass through them. 

All this commotion interferes with your sleep quality, so even if you think you sleep through the night, your body doesn’t get the restorative rest it needs. Sleep apnea can explain daytime sleepiness, fatigue, low energy, increased blood pressure, and hormone deficiencies.

Your body needs to achieve the sleep stage called rapid eye movement (REM) to replenish the testosterone and other hormones you use during the day. If you never reach REM, your testosterone level drops.

How low testosterone affects your sleep

Testosterone plays a vital role in keeping your biological clock on schedule. Your body knows when to sleep and wake based on circadian rhythm, your internal clock that helps regulate your sleep cycle. 

When you're low on testosterone, it messes with your circadian rhythm, causing you to sleep less or poorly. The lack of sleep exacerbates your hormone problem, and the cycle continues.

How to break the low testosterone-sleep apnea cycle

Depending on the underlying cause of your sleep apnea, you may be able to resolve the issue by losing weight. To reduce sleep interruptions, you can wear a mandibular advancement device, a small appliance that keeps your lower in a forward position when you sleep, or use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine that ensures you keep breathing while sleeping. 

If low-T is the culprit behind your sleep issues, our team can make that diagnosis and restore your testosterone levels and production. We offer testosterone replacement therapy via injections, pills, nasal sprays, patches, gels, or pellets.

The Endocrine Center experts can help you break the link between low testosterone and sleep apnea. We have three offices in Houston, Texas, and you can request an appointment online or call us today to get started.

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