Testosterone Levels Impact Restful Sleep for Obese, Overweight Men

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A new factor in sleep and sleep apnea among obese and overweight men was introduced by researchers at a recent conference, pointing to the man's testosterone levels as helping determine sleep quality.

A new factor in sleep and sleep apnea among obese and overweight men was introduced by researchers at a recent conference, pointing to the man’s testosterone levels as helping determine sleep quality.

The presentation was made at the 2014 Joint Meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society: ICE/ENDO 2014 in Chicago by Eve Van Cauter, PHD, the senior investigator and director of the University of Chicago Sleep, Metabolism and Health Center.

Van Cauter’s team determined higher levels of testosterone resulted in poorer sleep for study subjects. “This finding could have clinical relevance in the contest of the recent increase in testosterone prescriptions in middle-aged men, as poor sleep quality has been linked to increased risk of diabetes and hypertension," he said in a news release that accompanied the presentation of study results at the conference.

Recent studies have shown that three out of four men in America are overweight or obese and the presented study looked at factors which contributed to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), where breathing can rapidly stop and start sleep disturbing the restful phases of the process. Van Cauter’s team used a group of 44 nonsmoking men between the ages of 20 and 50 who were overweight or obese but were otherwise healthy.

After undergoing a polysomnogram results showed that 66% of participants had OSA which was determined to be moderately severe in most of the 29 cases. The men were also asked to give a blood sample the morning after the study to measure testosterone level. Results were also attained by statistical analysis of subjects’ demographics including age and race to look at slow-wave activity. Body mass index and height and weight were also considered but showed no “significant” effect on slow-wave activity.

Van Cauter said looking at the results it showed that the total testosterone levels were tied to the shallow sleep of study participants. Looking beyond her study and at other conditions and treatments like testosterone replacement therapy she added, “Further studies are needed to clarify the impact of testosterone replacement on sleep quality,” especially sleep depth.”

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the ResMed Foundation and a grant from the Brussels Institute for Research and Innovation.

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