Yes, I’m harping on (lack of) sleep again – and I have studies to back me up. The article How Little Sleep Can You Get Away With? reports on studies that show we suffer loss of focus and function if we don’t get enough sleep. A single night of seven hours has a measurable effect on mental performance. Additional nights of seven hours make it worse. Even less sleep results in greater performance loses, and at a much faster cumulative rate. The truth is the vast majority of people need eight hours a night for full mental function. Other studies have shown health problems from not getting enough sleep.
Think you are the exception? Maybe, but not likely; it’s estimated less than 5% of people can function fully on lower levels of sleep. What’s more, you can’t train yourself to get by on less sleep – it’s genetic. You might find ways to cope, or to convince yourself you are doing okay, but unless you are one of the few who are genetically predisposed to less sleep, you are fooling, and harming yourself. You are also harming your marriage; when you are short on sleep you can’t be as loving and giving as you should be. A lack of sleep makes people irritable, short tempered, and less sympathetic. We become more focused on ourselves, less aware of the needs of others, and less willing to do things for others.
Need more to be convinced? Another study found that a week of five hours of sleep a night reduced testosterone levels by 10% to 15% in healthy young men. A decline in mood and vigour levels accompanied the drops in T levels. No doubt a similar drop is seen in men of all ages, and those who are less healthy to start with are likely affected even more. It will take follow up studies to see how much sleep loss is necessary for a change in T levels, but given the brain changes from losing even an hour of sleep, I would guess a guy running on six hours a night is going to have lower T levels than if he got a full eight.
Lower T levels means less energy, less muscle building, less fat burning, and poorer mood. Sexual desire and function can also be harmed. Another hour of sleep each night could have a very beneficial affect on a wide array of issues.
Does a lack of sleep lower T levels in women? I can’t find a good study on that, but human biology suggest that women would have lower T levels due to too little sleep, and given their lower levels to start with, the affects may be more significant for women. Beyond this, it’s no secret that being short on sleep kills a woman’s desire for sex. Even if she goes along, being short sleep means she is far less likely to enjoy it.
Bottom line: Regularly getting less than eight hours of sleep is harmful to your body, your mind, your marriage, and your sex life. If any of those are important to you, I suggest you need to change priorities to get the sleep you need.