Media Release 05 March 2014
Why sleep is the new Viagra
World Sleep Day Friday March 13 2015
Feeling tired is something many New Zealanders can relate to - 55% of Kiwi’s say they never wake up refreshed1. Studies
have shown that sleep deprived men report lower libidos, erectile dysfunction and an overall lack of sex drive. For men,
getting less than eight hours of sleep can result in lower testosterone levels, equivalent to aging 10 -15 years and
ultimately affecting the quality of their sexual relationships.
Friday March 13 is World Sleep Day, an annual event organised by the World Association of Sleep Medicine (WASM) to raise awareness of sleep-related
problems. This year’s theme “When sleep is sound, health & happiness abound” aims to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through better prevention and management of sleep disorders,
enabling better relationships.
In recent studies by sleep experts, scientists looked for signs of sexual problems in 401 men who showed up at a clinic
for suspected sleep apnea. Of those who received the diagnosis, about 70 percent also had erectile dysfunction, compared
with 34 percent in those without sleep apnea2. Also, those with sleep disorders often display mood disturbances and
depression, which play an important factor in impacting sex drive3.
“Getting less than five hours of sleep can wreak havoc on your sex life and personal intimacy. Exhaustion resulting from
poor sleep reduces your libido and can leave long lasting effects on hormone levels. However, sleep, much like Viagra,
can improve both sexual function and sexual desire for men and women,” says Sleep Specialist Dr. Alex Bartle.
Currently 13% of New Zealanders aged 20-59 suffer from insomnia4 – symptoms include trouble falling asleep, staying
asleep and being unable to function properly throughout the day.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can also be a common cause of sleep deprivation for sufferers and their partners. OSA is a
sleep-related breathing disorder that causes your body to stop breathing during sleep. OSA occurs when the tissue in the
back of the throat collapses and blocks the airway keeping air from getting into the lungs. It is estimated that 25
percent of men and nine percent of women have OSA, and millions more remain undiagnosed.
Dr. Bartle says, “Sleep deprivation impacts all areas of our life including decreased concentration, energy,
irritability, moodiness, intimacy and depression. We spend nearly one third of our life sleeping and the number of
people in New Zealand affected by sleep deprivation or sleep disorders is growing. It’s important to recognise if you
have problems to start improving the quality of your life. “
1 Who reports insomnia? Relationships with age, sex, ethnicity, and socioeconomic deprivation. Sarah-Jane SJ Paine,
Philippa H PH Gander, Ricci R Harris, Papaarangi P Reid Sleep 27(6):1163-9 (2004), PMID 15532211
2 Sleep apnea is an independent correlate of erectile and sexual dysfunction. 2009 Budweiser S1, Enderlein S, Jörres RA,
Hitzl AP, Wieland WF, Pfeifer M, Arzt M.
3 Relationship Between Quality of Life and Mood or Depression in Patients With Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome.
3/09/2012. Akashiba T, Kawahara, Akahoshi T, Omori C, Osamu Saito O, Tohru Majima T, Horie T, FCCP
4 Insomnia treatment in New Zealand. New Zealand Medical Journal 10/02/2012 Vol. 125O’Keeffe; Gander; Scott; Scott