Overview: Getting a good night’s rest is important, not only to your overall health but to your sexual health as well. Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia can cause or contribute to erectile dysfunction (ED). Fortunately, you can treat sleep-related ED with lifestyle changes and prescription lifestyle medications like Viagra. This article discusses the relationship between sleep disorders and ED, including best practices for improving both sleep and sexual function.
Are your sleep habits interfering with your sex life? Read on to learn more about the relationship between sleep and sexual function.
Which Sleep Disorders Cause ED?
Your sleep patterns and behaviors can be strong indicators of your overall health and well-being, including your sexual function. In fact, research has linked a number of sleep disorders and common sleep problems to sexual dysfunction. Poor sleep quality is most commonly associated with ED.
Specific sleep disorders linked to ED include:
- Circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are characterized by disruption of sleep timing. Those suffering from these disorders may have trouble falling or staying asleep at regular intervals. This continuous disruption of sleep patterns prevents you from getting proper sleep and can cause ED.
- Insomnia or chronic sleep deprivation.
Insomnia and chronic sleep deprivation are characterized by the inability to fall and stay asleep for a sufficient period of time. You are not likely to develop ED from a few days of poor sleep, but if insomnia or sleep deprivation are not addressed over an extended period of time, you are at risk for several health consequences, including ED.
- Narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a rare condition that causes daytime sleepiness and sudden sleep attacks. Narcolepsy results in poor sleep and can ultimately contribute to sexual dysfunction.
- Nocturia. Nocturia is characterized by waking up multiple times in the night to urinate. This condition results in poor sleep quality and has been linked to reduced energy, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and sexual dysfunction.
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is characterized by continuous episodes of upper airway obstruction during sleep. This has several consequences to your health and can induce neural, hormonal, and vascular regulation abnormalities. These abnormalities can both cause and contribute to ED.
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS). RLS is characterized by sensations of discomfort and the urge to move your legs. RLS is linked to low levels of dopamine and also disrupts sleep. Because of this, men with RLS are at an increased risk for developing ED.
The severity and duration of your sleep disorder can influence the severity and duration of your ED. Sleep disorder treatment plans vary from person to person. Your medical provider can help you to identify the best treatment option for your condition and your lifestyle.
How Does Poor Sleep Cause ED?
Insufficient sleep can negatively alter your brain, hormones, mood, and circulation. Each of these can negatively impact both your sex drive and ability to perform in the bedroom. High-quality sleep is necessary for a satisfying sex life.
Men who suffer from poor sleep may also be at risk for:
- Anxiety and depression
- Low testosterone
Each of these conditions can also complicate sexual function and worsen ED symptoms. For example, mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, can contribute to psychologically induced ED. Low testosterone can also severely reduce your sex drive.
Is Snoring Linked to ED and Sleep Disorders?
Some people believe that snoring is evidence of a sleep disorder. While snoring can signal a sleep disorder, specifically sleep apnea, snoring itself is not enough evidence to diagnose a sleep disorder or poor sleep quality. According to research, snoring is also not significantly linked to ED on its own.
If you are worried that you are getting poor sleep or that you might have a sleep disorder, you should document your symptoms and speak to your medical provider. They may wish to run further diagnostics, including a sleep study, to determine the best course of action.
How Can I Get a Better Night’s Sleep?
You can take simple steps at home to improve your sleep quality. You can also take a few steps to sleep your way to better sex. You will want to get at least eight hours of quality sleep to reduce your risk of ED.
Tools to help you improve your sleep quality include:
- Create a better sleep environment. Your sleep environment should be free of bright lights, loud noises, or distractions. You may want to identify your ideal sleep temperature, use light dimmers, and wear earplugs or an eye mask to bed to create a better sleep environment.
- Create a sleep routine. A sleep routine includes setting a consistent bedtime and wake time. It also includes any activities you engage in prior to falling asleep. These activities may include meditation, music, reading, or any other activity that helps you to wind down at the end of the night.
- Therapy and stress management. Therapy, sex therapy, and stress management may help to reduce insomnia and sleep deprivation. Therapy can also help to reduce anxiety and stress surrounding sexual performance and ED.
- Treat existing sleep disorders. Seeing a sleep specialist to treat any sleep disorders is essential to improving the quality of your sleep. This should also help to reduce ED symptoms.
- Watch what you eat and drink. If you find yourself reaching for an espresso after dinner or eating a large meal right before bed, you may want to switch up your pre-bed food and drink routine. Try to limit caffeine and alcohol in the evenings and eat an earlier dinner to get the best quality of sleep.
Can ED Drugs Help with Sleep-Related ED?
Luckily, ED drugs can effectively treat sleep-related ED. These oral medications, known as phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors, work by increasing blood flow to the penis. They are approved for use in most adult men with a prescription.
Examples of safe and effective ED drugs include:
- Cialis (tadalafil)
- Levitra (vardenafil)
- Stendra (avanafil – not yet available in a generic version)
- Viagra (sildenafil)
We make it easy for you to find treatment at eDrugstore.com. See our lifestyle medication guide or take advantage of our free online consultation to order medications at the click of a button or by calling 1-800-467-5146. Virtual health visits and shipping are always free.
Shelby is a public health professional with research and field experience in sexual and reproductive health. She holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) and is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).