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Dr. Matt Dorsey, DACM, LAc

How Does Sleep Affect Testosterone?

How much sleep does a man need each night for optimal testosterone levels?  Can melatonin lower your T?  Does sleeping naked really boost testosterone, or is that just a myth?  

If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, then this article is for you. 

Most men know intuitively that testosterone and sleep are connected.  When you’re tired, it’s obvious that you don’t have the same level of overall male vitality.  Is that just because your energy levels are lower, or is there a direct connection between sleep and reproductive hormones?  

Sleep and hormones are deeply intertwined in virtually all creatures, not just humans.  More than just a simple sleep chemical, melatonin is a potent hormone that–much like testosterone–has huge effects on the brain and is extremely important for your overall well-being.  

Testosterone levels have been declining by nearly 1% each year for the past few decades, which means a lot of men have half the T their granddad did at their same age.  On top of that, the fertility rate in the US recently hit an all-time low and sperm counts across the world are down a whopping 60% since the 1980s.  

Thus, we need all the tips we can get on how to optimize testosterone, as its decline has reached truly epidemic proportions.  

In this article, we’ll do our best to provide honest answers to some of the more commonly asked questions about how sleep impacts testosterone and fertility.  We’ll also give you a few suggestions for how to optimize sleep if you’re looking for extra support in that area.  

Less sleep equals less testosterone, even in healthy men 

It makes sense that going for long periods with poor sleep might lower your T, but what happens after getting a little less sleep for only a week? 

In one study, young, healthy men (with an average age of 24) were made to get only 5 hours of sleep each night for one week.  The researchers picked this number because that’s about how much approximately 15% of working Americans get each night.  

The participants’ daytime testosterone levels dropped by 10-15%.  They also got significantly lower scores on a questionnaire that assessed their mental states and included questions about enthusiasm, irritability, stress, and overall sense of well-being.  

Many hormones naturally fluctuate throughout the day.  This includes melatonin, cortisol, and testosterone.  In general, loss of sleep is associated not only with lower overall testosterone levels, but also a disruption in the daily T cycle.   

According to much of the research, men lacking sleep tend to have less testosterone in the morning and early afternoon but actually more than they should in the late afternoon and early evening.  

It’s interesting to consider how our natural hormonal fluctuations can influence the ways our mood states and our focus change throughout the day.  Testosterone tends to boost dopamine and vice-versa.  Thus, getting less sleep means not only less focus during the earlier part of the day when you want to be sharp, but possibly a harder time relaxing when you’re done with the days’ work.  

Notably, daily cortisol cycles also tend to be disrupted when you get less sleep.  

Consider that high levels of cortisol are antagonistic to reproductive hormones like testosterone and overall mood.  That’s one of the reasons that adaptogens like Ashwagandha and Tongkat Ali are so effective for boosting mood and energy–because they don’t only promote T directly but also help maintain healthy cortisol levels.

Can sleeping naked really boost testosterone, or is that just a myth?

Are men’s testosterone levels affected by whether or not they wear clothes to sleep, or is that just some random Reddit nonsense?  

To be clear, no studies to date have looked at this exact connection, so we can only speculate.  That being said, it’s reasonable to hypothesize that sleeping naked could not only affect your T levels, but also your fertility.  

This is more likely to be true under two conditions:

  1. If you wear briefs instead of boxer shorts to bed
  2. If it’s often warm in your room and you have trouble cooling down

A study at a fertility center looked at the connection between the type of underwear worn and different testicular function markers in men.  It found that men who reported typically wearing boxers instead of briefs had 25% higher sperm counts.  

While this study didn’t measure testosterone levels, it did measure FSH, the pituitary hormone that tells the testicles to manufacture both T and sperm.  

The authors concluded:

“Certain styles of male underwear may impair spermatogenesis and this may result in a compensatory increase in gonadotropin secretion, as reflected by higher serum FSH levels among men who reported most frequently wearing tight underwear. Confirmation of these findings, and in particular the findings on FSH levels suggesting a compensatory mechanism, is warranted.”

So, if you prefer to wear briefs, then it might be a good idea that you either wear boxers or nothing when you go to sleep.  Again, we can’t say for sure, but there’s at least some evidence that it could be helpful.  

The other commonly cited reason that sleeping naked might boost testosterone is extremely simple.  The logic goes like this: being too warm can make it harder to sleep, and less sleep means less testosterone, thus sleeping naked might help your T levels.  

So, let’s say you’re someone who runs hot, lives in a very hot climate, and sleeps with a shirt and shorts on.  Maybe on top of that, your AC either isn’t that great or your girlfriend doesn’t like it too cold, so it’s always a little hotter than you’d like it.  

It’s widely known that body temperature affects sleep quality, whether you’re too hot or too cold.  So, if you’re in this kind of situation and you’re having a hard time getting good sleep, then sleeping naked might be worth a try, as it’s one of the easiest ways of cooling your body down. 

If you and your wife are trying to conceive, then all of this goes doubly, since heat and sperm are obviously enemies.  

Is melatonin bad for your testosterone?

A while back, we wrote an article titled ‘Why Andrew Huberman’s Wrong About Melatonin’.  In it, we discussed this question in a fair amount of detail, but here we’ll give a quick overview of why we don’t think that melatonin is actually a bad thing for male vitality.  

First, it’s important to know that melatonin serves a number of critical roles in physiology.  It boosts detoxification by helping your body make glutathione, it’s a master antioxidant, regulates the immune system, and even helps you burn fat.  It’s also extremely helpful for fertility, as sperm are highly susceptible to free radical damage.  

Multiple studies have looked at men who took melatonin regularly and none of them found that their testosterone levels were lower.  Therefore, based on the current research, we can conclude that–if melatonin helps you get better sleep–it’s more likely to boost your testosterone than lower it.  

Some people do feel groggier in the morning if they take melatonin the night before, though.  Some folks seem to be more sensitive to it than others, so in that case they might either need to take less of it or maybe not take it at all if it’s really not agreeing with them.  Everyone’s different, and sometimes it’s best just to listen to your body and respond accordingly.  

Everything is connected and sleep is the lynchpin 

Sleep is one of the cornerstones of health, next to exercise and nutrition.  Pretty much everyone knows this, but it never hurts to have another reminder. 

The world seems to be speeding up.  Technology is accelerating, there’s always something epically stressful happening on the news, and reality seems to get more and more unpredictable.  Many of us are working more hours than we’d like to pay the bills.  

After you get home from a long day of work, it’s way too easy to stay up too late in order to maximize your free time.  Whether you’re out with friends or just binge watching Youtube videos, it can be really hard to make time to properly wind down.  

If you want to optimize your testosterone and overall vitality though, it’s really important to have good sleep hygiene and follow a good nightly routine.  Here are a few tips:

  • Avoid caffeine or other stimulants after 2pm
  • Don’t eat anything for at least 4-5 hours before you go to sleep 
  • Get as much time outside during the earlier part of the day as possible 
  • Try reading for the last 1-2 hours instead of looking at a screen 
  • Make sure you’re not too hot or cold
  • Dim the lights as much as possible after it gets dark

The right supplements can also take you a long way.  Adaptogens like Tongkat Ali and Ashwagandha have been shown in research to support both healthy sleep and testosterone levels.  CHOQ Ashwagandha, which has the highest number of withanolides of any ashwagandha on the market, is great for reducing cortisol and boosting energy.  This is a great article if you’d like to learn more about the research behind this legendary herb.  

The extract in CHOQ Tongkat 100, which is backed by over 20 different clinical studies, has also been shown to improve cortisol, sleep quality, and provide a healthy boost in free testosterone testosterone.  

Both of them (and also CHOQ Daily) are in our top-selling Male Vitality STAQ, which thousands of men use to decrease stress, boost energy, and get that extra edge in performance.

Whether or not you take supplements to help with sleep and stress levels, do what you can to study all the ways that you can get better sleep and try each tip out to see which ones work for you.  Your future self with thank you. 


Dr. Matt Dorsey, DACM, LAc

CHOQ Chief Product Officer

Matt Dorsey is a Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, medical herbalist, clinical nutritionist, and supplement industry veteran. As our Chief Product Officer, he heads product development and relies on his extensive training to ensure that our supplements are safe and effective.