Bedrooms are many things to many people. Usually, we view it as a place of rest, sleep and possibly sex. Lady Gaga called it her “stage,” albeit one that others aren’t allowed to see. Moby sees himself as a “weird, bald musician who makes records in the bedroom.” In many businesses, bedrooms are also boardrooms or, according to Theo Paphitis, a place where “you can have a worldwide shop.” Will Durst considers it a “place to laugh, so long as you don’t point.” Moon Unit Zappa thought of her bedroom as where she could be “miserable about my raging acne.” Andy Warhol idealized the bedroom as the spot from which he could “watch every party that I’d been invited to on a monitor” instead of attending. Martha Tingey finds it a space “to talk things over with Heavenly Father.” Rodney Dangerfield discovered that the bedroom was where “my dog learned how to beg by watching me through the bedroom door.” And oh so poetically, Robert Breault considers the bedroom “the place where a loving touch so completely compensates for an unskilled hand.”
Sex Organs Need Sleep
But let’s get back to the most basic functions of the bedroom: a place to sleep and reproduce. In fact, as you may know these paired bedroom roles are remarkably complementary. Reproduction is hormonally governed, and there is clear evidence that sleep deprivation and poor-quality sleep contribute to endocrine disruption. This was recently demonstrated in a University of Chicago study of young men subjected to laboratory-controlled sleep for <5 hours or 10 hours and showed that simple sleep deprivation lowered testosterone levels by 10-15%. They also noted a decline in vigor and well-being. This tanking of testosterone is about the same as that which occurs naturally with 15 years of normal aging!
There is also a correlation between sleep and sperm quality. A randomized trial of over 900 healthy men examined the health and quality of sperm relative to bedtimes and sleep duration. The study noted that both sleep duration and late bedtimes correlated with reduced sperm counts, motility and survival rates. It can’t be good news for either sexuality or fertility if poor sleep habits negatively impact the two main functions of the testicle: hormone and sperm production. In fact, research suggests that an increase of 1 hour in sleep length is associated with a 14% increase in sexual activity.
Sleep as Oxygen
So, what’s a guy to do? It’s actually quite simple: Practice good sleep hygiene. You take good care of your teeth to avoid those nasty visits to the dentist for fillings and root canals. But you should really think of sleep as equally important to your health and well-being. No, I take that back. You should consider sleep as right behind oxygen regarding their importance to thriving on this good earth. So, here are the basics of good sleep hygiene, much of which condemns what we currently do in the bedroom:
- Be consistent with sleep. It’s amazing how pets and infants thrive on regular sleep-wakes cycles. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on weekends.
- Get regular exercise. Staying active gets the body physically tired and invites a faster, deeper and more refreshing sleep.
- Sleep in quiet, dark spaces. Being the animals we are, we have evolved in the presence of day-night cycles for millions of years, and good for us. Find your cave that’s dark, peaceful and comfortable.
- Rid yourself of electronics. Power down, remove or unplug TVs, computers, smart phones, and other distracting devices as they stimulate the fight or flight nervous system which is not helpful for good sleep.
- Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime. Meals require digestion which takes energy. Caffeine is a stimulant and keeps eyes wide open. Alcohol is a sedative that reduces good quality (REM) sleep.
In the words of the venerated William Masters of Masters & Johnson sex research fame: “When things don’t work well in the bedroom, they don’t work well in the living room either.” And they also don’t work well in the playroom.