Sleep Deprivation and Erectile Dysfunction

by | Last updated Mar 1, 2022

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Men’s Health Month calls for self care, which requires reflection, honesty, and greater awareness. Did you know 44% of men suffering from erectile dysfunction can trace it to another health concern? For example, there’s a direct link between sleep deprivation and erectile dysfunction.

Both topics necessitate great attention because you deserve to be your best self, to be as healthy as possible. Some men assume they’re dealing as best they can, unknowing they jeopardize their health and intimate relationships.

Sleep deprivation and erectile dysfunction may be symptoms of one common sleep disorder. That means there may be one health solution for poor sleep and erectile dysfunction- in an unlikely place. No pills required.

Does Sleep Deprivation Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Nights of restlessness lead to sluggishness during the day, irritability with relationships, and lower cognitive functioning at work. Furthermore, getting less than 8 hours of sound sleep means poorer circulation and lower levels of testosterone, leading to erectile dysfunction and relationship issues.

Definition of Erectile Dysfunction:

  • Trouble getting an erection
  • Trouble keeping an erection
  • Reduced sexual desire

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?

As highlighted, sleep disorders, stress, and relationship issues are listed as common causes of erectile dysfunction, making it more important to self evaluate and empower yourself to seek proper medical attention.

– Heart disease
– High cholesterol
– High blood pressure
– Diabetes
– Obesity
– Tobacco use
– Alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse
– Sleep disorders
– Treatments for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate
– Surgeries or injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord
Low testosterone
– Depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions
– Stress

Male sexual arousal is connected to other parts of the body including the brain, nerves, and blood cells. As with sleep deprivation, lowered sexual arousal may have psychosomatic origins. Sexual dysfunction and poor sleep creates stress, which can result in less sexual arousal, worse sleep, and even greater stress.

The cycle continues. Poor sleepers remain active at night while partners want to get to sleep. Relationships sour because couples sleep in separate beds or rooms. And, intimacy is lost through less sexual contact.

A California State University professor of psychology and mood researcher recognizes the link between poor sleep and lowered libido. The low energy and increased tension caused by sleep deprivation, or “tense tiredness,” can lead to erectile dysfunction.

Some men are reluctant to seek medical attention for issues like lowered sexual performance, failed intimacy, and ensuing relationship troubles. But afterward, they are relieved to find others with sleep issues have similar “bedtime stories.”

  • Some men, not wanting to disturb sleeping partners, resort to watching television, doing activities, and midnight snacking until they feel tired enough to get back to bed. 
  • Others make the couch a temporary-to-permanent place to sleep until ‘they start a better sleep routine.’ 
  • In other cases, some men purchase larger beds. Taking the matter further, some couples decide on sleeping in entirely separate beds or bedrooms.
  • Some come to think they are the problem or their partner is losing interest, and relationships start to suffer due to guessing and assuming.

Actually, the link between sleep disorders and relationship issues is so undeniable that clinicians often inquire about sleep when providing medical attention for erectile dysfunction, especially since sleep disorders often go undiagnosed.

Phil Gehrman of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine program at the University of Pennsylvania agrees sleep loss can “snowball” into relationship issues. He often encourages partners to come in with patients for a better understanding and greater awareness.

Partners are encouraged to empower men to make great health decisions. In some cases, an awkward conversation related to snoring could result in a diagnosis that saves a life. Similarly, some men are reluctant to discuss ED-related issues like sleep apnea because of the associations with older men, snoring, and CPAP machines.

However, what’s sexier than being in good health, addressing health issues, and relieving related symptoms like ED? Isn’t facing health concerns, seeking help, and getting results better than living with the present alternative? Many partners would agree that a guy who uses a CPAP is way sexier and empowered than one who is reluctant about being in the best of health (in and out of the bedroom).

Sleep Apnea and Erectile Dysfunction: A Direct Relation

What if one issue was the cause of the sleep deprivation and erectile dysfunction? A sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, may be the cause. Sleep apnea creates cardiovascular issues linked to the very same vascular issues responsible for an inability to keep a firm erection. ED is directly related to building and maintaining vascular health, and you’re never too young to start paying greater attention to the connection.

Men with obstructive sleep apnea cannot breathe properly while sleeping, creating a multitude of related health issues. As stated above, a lack of sleep leads to poorer circulation and ED (erectile dysfunction) symptoms. A 2002 study found nearly half of men with severe sleep apnea also had lower levels of testosterone at night.

Some men and women think ED is defined as when you no longer get a firm erection or the penis is too flacid for sex. This should not be the initial sign of concern, for such symptoms signal a more advanced stage of ED and a chronic medical issue could go undiagnosed. The inability to keep an erection is a signal and opportunity for early detection and prevention of chronic medical diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. 

The direct relationship between obstructive sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction prompts ED patients to get a sleep study. Treating OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) involves accelerating oxygen levels that in turn improve blood flow to the sexual organs. In short, getting a sleep study can be a necessity in curing your erectile dysfunction.

Related: The Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Hormones

Sleep Deprivation, Erectile Dysfunction, or Sleep Study?

Once men who suffer from poor sleep and ED seek medical solutions, they learn theirs was not an uncommon bedtime story. They come to find they are not the only ones with partners who cannot rest. Moreover, men who seek clinical attention come to understand the intimate and marital relations of others are also pushed to the brink because of issues rooted in an inability to sleep well.

Furthermore, guys in their twenties and thirties may wrongly dismiss symptoms of ED due to their younger age. Similarly, as men age, they assume some aspects of their manhood should decline. This is a myth, and a man in good vascular health at age 40 can feel and perform like his much younger self.

Do you or a partner regularly experience two or more of the following symptoms?

  • You snore (often very loudly and often)
  • You stop breathing and/or gasp for air when you sleep
  • You experience morning headaches
  • You have a dry or sore throat in the morning
  • You sleep on your side more than any other position
  • You feel like you didn’t get a good night of sleep even when you’ve slept 7+ hours
  • You have pain in your shoulders, neck, hips, or knees when you wake up
  • You feel anxious or agitated when you wake up
  • You experience “brain fog” in the morning
  • You experience forgetfulness
  • You have lessened interest in sex

If so, the time is now.

Erectile Dysfunction Treatment 

Do you want to continue the cycle of poor sleep and sexual dysfunction or seek a solution? The staff members of Sleep Centers of Middle Tennessee are experienced and dedicated to improving your sleep and overall health.

A sleep study is an important step in addressing sleeping and sexual problems. Through proper diagnosis, you gain access to the best treatments available. Moreover, a sleep study and proper diagnosis is important in avoiding heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

The answer to the question is easy. We’re here and ready to help.


American Society For Technion – Israel Institute Of Technology. (2002, July 31). Sleep Apnea Linked To Decreased Libido, According To New Study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 11, 2020

ED Facts 2019-2020 – Erectile Dysfunction Statistics. (January 2020).

How Lack of Sleep Harms Circulation (May 2019).

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