Are you letting your t-zone down in the bedroom?
Since 1993, sales of prescription testosterone have swelled by 500%, creating an entire industry around helping men feel younger and healthier. While most of us think of testosterone as the essence of what makes a man, the male sex hormone, it might actually be the unsung hero in men’s health, including sleep health. If you’re skimping on sleep, it’s time to learn how sleep affects your testosterone levels – and what happens when those levels dip.
This is part one in a three part series featuring Dr. John La Puma, M.D. Read the other two:
Dr. La Puma specializes in helping people take control of their health and weight. He’s a New York Times best-selling author, taught the first nutrition and cooking course for medical students in the US with Dr. Michael Roizen and has appeared on Dr. Oz, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Oprah.com, Martha Stewart radio to name just a few.
Testosterone, sleep and weight
Testosterone, in men and women, helps build strength, muscle mass and bone density, as well as revving up your sex drive. During the day testosterone levels naturally drop and they’re replenished at night while we sleep.
“Testosterone is manufactured in short bursts at night,” says Dr. La Puma. Research shows levels peak during REM sleep, our deepest restorative sleep. When we don’t get enough sleep, by choice or because of a sleep disorder, our ability to manufacture testosterone is affected. Recent studies suggest that skimping on sleep – even for just one week – can significantly reduce testosterone levels. “For men, sleeping less than 6 hours a night reduces testosterone levels by 10-15%.”
Lower testosterone levels can affect much more than just your libido though. Reduced energy, poor concentration, fatigue and diminished strength – not to mention weight gain. If you’re not sleeping well and your weight increases, you’ll produce more of an enzyme (found in body fat) that converts testosterone into estrogen (the female sex hormone), which slows production of testosterone even further.
The heavier you are, the more estrogen you produce. Talk about a depressing, emasculating circle.
Not sure if your testosterone levels are low? The New England Research Institutes (NERI) says a man’s waist size is the strongest predictor of low testosterone levels.
Why sleep is so important
What if you could increase testosterone levels by simply eating healthier and getting a good night’s sleep? Dr. La Puma says men need 7-9 hours of sleep – regularly – but most of us are so accustomed to sleep deprivation that we no longer understand our body’s natural “tired” cues.
“People mistake tiredness for hunger and reach for a snack when they should be taking a nap instead,” says Dr. La Puma. “Even though it seems to make no sense, people snack instead of sleep – something they can easily satisfy. But when you eat more, you weigh more.”
Launching your day on the right nutritional foot will prevent runway eating at night. “Many people start with a light breakfast and lunch and then eat from dinnertime to bed, snacking on foods higher in fats and sugars,” he says. “Start your morning with a balanced mix of carbs, protein and fat. You should have some protein at every meal so you’re full and satisfied after eating.”
Before opting for testosterone replacement medication, Dr. La Puma says to try everything else first. “Cut out coffee, start exercising, standardize your sleep times, reserve the bedroom for sleep and sex only and keep your room cool, dark and quiet.”
If you’re eager to learn more about Dr. La Puma, visit him online at DrLaPuma.com or catch up with him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. If you’re concerned you suffer from low testosterone, take the 5-minute Self-Assessment T-Test.
Dr. La Puma, founder of ChefMD believes food can be the strongest of medicine. He says this sexy salsa and black bean omelet is jam-packed with lycopene, which can help prevent prostate cancer. Zesty chilies contain capsaicin which boosts your metabolism and helps the body burn more calories, even while sleeping!
Salsa, Black Bean and Avocado Omelet for Two
Reprinted with permission from ChefMD.com.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 8 minutes
Don’t be afraid to make an omelet at home. Use a flat round pan with a slight edge. Make sure to coat the pan lightly with olive oil after heating it to prevent sticking. Once the center of the omelet has cooked (approx.. 3 min), use a heat-resistant spatula to loosen it all around the edge and carefully fold over. Voila!
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2/3 cup jalapeno cilantro salsa, such as Frontera brand, divided
- 2 large omega 3 eggs
- 2 large omega 3 egg whites
- ½ cup rinsed and drained canned black beans
- ½ ripe avocado, peeled, seeded, diced
- ¼ cup crumbled queso fresco cheese
- ¼ cup sliced green onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped epazote
Heat oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add 1/3 cup of the salsa to the oil; simmer 1 minute or until thickened. Beat eggs and egg whites until well blended; stir into salsa mixture. Cook 1 to 2 minutes or until eggs begin to set. Gently lift edges of omelet with a large spatula to allow uncooked portion of eggs to flow to edges and set. Continue cooking 1 to 2 minutes or until center is almost set (top of eggs will be wet).
Combine beans, avocado, cheese and green onion; spread down center of omelet. Use spatula to fold omelette in half over filling; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until filling is hot and eggs are set in center. Cut in half; transfer to two serving plates and garnish with epazote and remaining 1/3 cup salsa.
Farmer’s cheese or queso anejo cheese may replace the queso fresco cheese and flat leaf parsley or cilantro may replace the epazote.
Culinary Taste Tip
Fresh eggs always taste best. Older eggs slosh around in their shells. So give one a gentle shake against your ear and choose the carton with eggs that don’t slosh.
Total fat (g): 15.18. Fat calories (kc): 135.65. Cholesterol (mg): 224.97. Trans fatty acids (g): 0. Saturated fat (g): 4.29. Polyunsaturated fat (g): 1.2. Monounsaturated fat (g): 6.11. Fiber (g): 6.28. Carbohydrates (g): 19.53. Sugars (g): 2.32. Protein (g): 17.85. Sodium (mg): 350.21. Calcium (mg) 128.66.