Competition with other guys is a great way to work on fixing your low T naturally. Guys – our brains are wired to compete, no matter how simple the game- racing, golfing, fishing or fighting. To your T levels, it’s all the same. That’s me in the green shirt as my buddies and I took 3rd in the men’s division of an off-road triathlon relay. There weren’t exactly a ton of men’s teams, but we still competed hard. That’s what it’s all about. So get out there and try to kick a buddy’s ass at something!
In a 2011 study, researchers determined that just a week of getting 5 hours per night of sleep can drop Testosterone levels 10-15%. In just one week!
“After 1 week of 8-hour bedtimes (from 11 PM to 7 AM) at home, the participants spent 11 days in the laboratory for 3 nights of 10-hour bedtimes (from 10 PM to 8 AM; rested condition) followed by 8 nights of 5-hour bedtimes (from 12:30 AM to 5:30 AM; sleep restriction).”
After measuring Testosterone levels in these guys, the study goes on to say: “Daytime testosterone levels were decreased by 10% to 15% in this small convenience sample of young healthy men who underwent 1 week of sleep restriction to 5 hours per night, a condition experienced by at least 15% of the US working population. By comparison, normal aging is associated with a decrease of testosterone levels by 1% to 2% per year.”
This means that if you are a guy in his 40’s to 50’s and you’re working your ass off, stressed to the gills, and sleeping 4-5 hours per night- you have a big problem. So before anything else, start figuring out how to get 7-8 hours per night at least 5 times per week. You might assume that you can bump your Low T levels up naturally by doing this.
Want the study reference?
One of the simplest fixes that I give to my clients who want to fix their Low T naturally is to turn off the computer, turn off the phone, turn off the TV and go outside.
This past weekend I was up in the mountains for an off-road triathlon race, Xterra Winter Park. It was pouring down rain and the organizers decided to postpone until next week. It would have been pretty easy to just hang around the hot tub, watch tv and stuff our faces all weekend. But that’s not my style.
I try to encourage all of my clients to get outside for long stretches on the weekend, whether it’s a high intensity activity like mountain biking or something less intense like fishing or golf doesn’t matter.
The point is to unplug from the stressors and get out side in to bigger spaces and away from the usual routine. This can really help lower those stress hormone levels that will drive testosterone levels down. Try it. You’ll see.
While I work with a lot of guys who seek me out for help with things like low sex drive, and fatigue, and weight gain, you’d be surprised that a lot of women are looking for help too.
While the fundamental approach is the same- reducing the impact of the various types of stress that screw up the balance between stress hormone and sex hormones, the specific changes can be a little different.
For instance, guys one of the central ideas is incorporating some intensity in the weight room to boost testosterone (along with cutting the crap out of their diets, fixing up digestive problems, and getting them to deal with stress). With women, we focus more on really cleaning up the diet and repairing their adrenal systems.
But one thing that both men and women almost always need to work on is consistency and quality of their sleep. As my mentor Dr. Daniel Kalish says, “Sleep is treatment.”
As I like to say to my patients when we start a program, let’s pick the low hanging fruit. That means we start with the things that are easiest to fix, and improving sleep can often be one of the easiest.
Sleep is the time when your body repairs the damage from the day, and sleep can be a significant antidote to stress. For instance if you’re get 5-6 hours of sleep because you’re up late working too hard, or worrying about money, or worrying about your kids it can further drive up your stress hormone levels and drive your sex hormone levels down. But how realistic is it to quit your job, abandon your debts and run away from your kids? It’s not. So instead of trying to quick-fix major issues, we flip the problem over and just work on sleep. Here are the most common suggestions that I use with patients
- Cut back on caffeine, and stop any caffeine after 2PM. Caffeine can metabolize slowly in some people, and can still affect you 8-10 hours after you consume it.
- Don’t drink alcohol on weeknights. Alcohol can really screw up your blood sugar, and can often cause people to wake up around 2AM and have a very hard time falling back to sleep.
- Avoid doing business or looking at your finances at night. These things almost always get people a little amped up and can make it really hard to get to sleep.
- Make sure your sleep environment is cool, dark, and quiet. Many people sleep better with some white noise, like from a fan. Also make sure you can make the room dark and cool. If the temp is too high, it can be hard to sleep.
- Avoid sleep drugs, including over the counter ones. These things create dependency an ultimately disrupt productive sleep.
- Figure out the cause. When we test our patients’ hormone levels, we can often uncover the reasons behind disrupted sleep. We can then use natural solutions to help you sleep better.
Just remember, fixing up your sleep habits can truly be a magical shortcut to restoring hormone balance and getting rid of symptoms like low sex drive.
photo courtesy of photostock via freedigitalphotos.net
Just remember this – guys over 40 need something to get away from the stress. The stress drives T down, the hobbies bring it back up. For me, it’s racing off-road triathlon (even if I’m not great at it). For you it can be whatever you want. But it does matter.
That’s me in the picture, running as fast as I ever have. You see, when I go in to these races, my main goal is to beat my time from the year before. And I knew it was going to be close this year.
Maybe getting up at 4:00 AM to drive up to the race was a mistake, but didn’t want to spend $400 for a hotel room I’d be in for just a few hours. Anyway, I had that 4:00 AM feeling the whole day and knew I was in trouble.
The swim went well, around 17:00 minutes to do my 800 meters, including the barefoot run to where the mountain bikes were. Then onto the bike, which felt steeper than it ever has before. 2200 feet of climbing in the first 3 miles. I finished the bike in 1 hour 23 minutes. Onto the trail run, where I knew it was going to be close. More steepness. I trudged up the 600ft climb as best I could and then ran as hard as I could on the downhill. Total time for 2016 2:24:56. Last year was 2:25:45. Very close, but I’ll take it. Next up is Xterra Winter Park on August 6.
That’s me yesterday, taking a break from riding my mountain bike in the 100 degree weather that we had in Denver this past weekend. The question is, “Why?”
For me mountain biking, and off-road triathlon are hobbies, and in the interest of full disclosure, I am not particularly good at either one. But I don’t care.
One of the biggest reasons that guys suffer from low T (testosterone) levels is stress. I see it all the time on the labs that I run on my patients. The stress hormone cortisol goes up, the testosterone levels go down.
Money, relationships, and work are the 3 big external stressors that drive this (we’ll talk about the internal stressors like diet later). Since most guys can’t just dump their jobs or trash their finances or fix their relationships to easily, the best thing to do is to find something to let you get away. Whether it’s fishing, mountain biking, hitting golf balls, brewing your own beer or collecting stamps, you need something to get away.
This is the quickest path to getting stress under control. So find something you like, even if it’s something you’re not good at, and do it.