Men may believe working out or eating a healthy diet is the most important thing they can do for their health. They’re wrong. The most valuable activity men should be investing their time and energy towards is quality sleep. Sleep is a precious health commodity. Unfortunately, men often fail to obtain adequate sleep not realizing its critical role in their health.
Men, here’s the deal. A good night’s sleep is a priority well worth your time and attention. Adequate sleep will bring a bigger health and well-being return in everything else you do each day. That’s because your body is busy recharging itself preparing for the next day. Men with sufficient, quality sleep will think better, perform better, look better, and feel better. Not bad for something that sounds so simple yet in reality, is easier said than done.
How inadequate sleep affects men’s health
A large number of studies have shown that poor sleep is associated with worse health outcomes for men. An optimal amount of sleep as recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society suggests 7 to 9 hours each night for adults. However, most Americans are not meeting this amount, especially men. In fact, a 2012 survey showed that 29.2% of men have less than 6 hours of sleep on average per night.
Besides the number of hours of sleep lacking, sleep quality has also taken a hit. A significant factor hitting sleep quality hard is the invasion of technology into the bedroom – laptops, cell phones, tablets – keeps us up late into the night in an “always-on” lifestyle significantly affecting sleep duration and quality.
For men, the impact of inadequate sleep has many health ramifications which include an increase in erectile dysfunction, lower urinary tract symptoms, hypogonadism or lowered testosterone levels, and even male infertility. Poor sleep and short sleep duration are also associated with other health conditions including coronary heart disease, worsened diabetes and hypertension, stroke, and myocardial infarctions.
What keeps men from getting enough sleep?
There are numerous reasons men often lack adequate sleep. Lack of shut-eye will lead lack of energy and concentration affecting their work and home life. Here are some signs of men not getting enough sleep negatively affecting their lives:
- Feeling tired and lacking energy during the day
- Struggles with paying attention at work or in meetings
- Feeling unmotivated
- Feeling irritable, grouchy, or losing their temper easily
- Needing an alarm to wake up on time
- Dozing off while driving a car
The reason for lack of sleep in men varies widely. These are not excuses but rather circumstances hindering men the needed sleep they require. The good news is there are steps in each situation men can take making adjustments to obtain the sleep they deserve.
Here are primary reasons of what keeps men from reaching their sleep needs:
Men work hard and many jobs men do often leave little time for sleep. Long commutes, working on weekends, nightshift work, and putting in extra hours all take away from much-needed hours for recharging themselves with sleep.
How to fix this: First start by not bringing homework. Set boundaries protecting your personal time at home. When working many hours, it’s vital to set aside time to relax both your mind and body. Carve out time to exercise and do other enjoyable activities permitting yourself a break from your job. Have a set bedtime and avoid bringing any electronics into the bedroom.
Too full of a schedule
Besides work hours, many men have other commitments they’ve taken on. From being on community committees to attending kid’s sporting events or working on projects around the house, a full schedule eats away time from necessary sleep.
How to fix this: The trick is to prioritize. Review your current schedule and be honest about how much time is spent in these activities. What can you scale back on or adjust? Which activities can wait or be worked on at a later date? If you feel like you’re burning the candle at both ends, it’s time to step back from activities that are not as meaningful to allow more time for meeting your own sleep and health needs.
Life changes impacting sleep
Living life is all about change. Changes can be either good or bad but even positive changes can be a sleep disrupter. Positive changes may include becoming a dad, starting a new job, or getting married. Not-so-happy changes could be losing a job, getting divorced, or having a major illness. Either way, changes in life can be a game-changer in getting adequate sleep.
How to fix this: Not all changes can be easily “fixed.” It’s best to learn to expect and accept certain changes in life. No matter what is thrown at you, maintaining a positive attitude with a sense of humor will result in the more restful sleep you’ll need during these changes. Keep exercising, choosing healthy foods, practicing stress reduction techniques, and always have a mindset that this too shall pass.
Bad health habits can greatly impact sleep. Eating big meals just before bed, irregular sleep habits, not exercising, or using much alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine at bedtime, all can be major sleep disruptors.
How to fix this: Depending on which bad habits to fix, will determine how to approach the solution. For starters, try eating your biggest meal at lunch instead of dinner. Fit in time for exercise throughout the day – walk during your lunch break or take a 10-minute walk after getting off work. Stop any use of alcohol, nicotine or caffeine at least 3 hours before bedtime. Have and maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up time each day, even on weekends.
Major contributors to poor sleep are medical conditions. Whether temporary or long-term, their impact has ramifications for a poor night’s sleep. Pain from osteoarthritis or a sprained ankle, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, respiratory diseases, or even medications making you jittery, can significantly disrupt sleep.
How to fix this: Depending on the medical condition, will determine how to treat the situation. If it’s a medication impacting sleep, talk to your doctor looking for other solutions or medications to try. If the condition is temporary, like a sprained ankle, your doctor can prescribe pain medication to block the pain until it’s healed. If the medical condition is long-term, depending on what it is, will determine appropriate treatments for better sleep. For instance, if diagnosed with sleep apnea, using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, is the most common and reliable method of treating this condition. The CPAP machine helps keep airways open lessening snoring resulting in better sleep. Working with your doctor to develop a sleep plan when diagnosed with a chronic condition, can help improve this situation.
It’s time to sleep better
Men, the time is now for working on getting better sleep.
Adequate sleep is necessary for good health including our skin health and appearance. The average adult requires between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. If you are lacking on the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep each day, here are tips on achieving that:
- Stick to a sleep schedule. As much as you can, go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on the weekends.
- Always make your bed every day. Yes, this makes a difference. There appears to be a correlation between a clean sleeping environment and how well we sleep throughout the night. Clean your bedsheets often and tidy up the bed before going out for the day.
- Resist afternoon naps. As tempting as they are, taking a snooze mid-afternoon, can disrupt your ability to fall asleep at night. If you must rest during the day, make it no longer than 20 minutes.
- Avoid heavy meals and caffeine before bedtime. Eating a big meal right before falling asleep can cause discomfort with indigestion making it harder to fall asleep. Eat at least 2 to 3 hours before crawling into bed for the night.
- Keep all electronics out of your bedroom. This even includes the TV. Having a habit of watching TV or browsing through social media can make it hard to fall asleep due to the particular type of light emanating from the screens.
- Each day, get in some exercise. Vigorous activity is best but even light exercise can be helpful.
- Keep your bedroom set at a cool, comfortable temperature. When drowsy, your body temperature goes down and then rises again once morning comes. To avoid restlessness throughout the night, it is recommended to set your thermostat to 65 degrees in your bedroom.
- Sleep in light clothing. Wear comfortable, lightweight clothing to bed. Bundling up too warm will only make it harder to fall asleep.
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.