The association of testosterone, sleep, and sexual function in men and women

Brain Res. 2011 Oct 6;1416:80-104. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2011.07.060. Epub 2011 Aug 6.


Testosterone has been the focus of several investigations and review studies in males, but few have addressed its effects on sleep and sexual function, despite evidence of its androgenic effects on circadian activity in both sexes. Studies have been conducted to understand how sleeping increases (and how waking decreases) testosterone levels and how this rhythm can be related to sexual function. This review addresses the inter-relationships among testosterone, sexual function and sleep, including sleep-disordered breathing in both sexes, specifically its effects related to sleep deprivation. In addition, hormonal changes in testosterone that occur in the gonadal and adrenal axis with obstructive sleep apnea and other conditions of chronic sleep deprivation, and which consequently affect sexual life, have also been explored. Nevertheless, hormone-associated sleep disruptions occur across a lifetime, particularly in women. The association between endogenous testosterone and sex, sleep and sleep disturbances is discussed, including the results of clinical trials as well as animal model studies. Evidence of possible pathophysiological mechanisms underlying this relationship is also described. Unraveling the associations of sex steroid hormone concentrations with sleep and sexual function may have clinical implications, as sleep loss reduces testosterone levels in males, and low sex steroid hormone concentrations have been associated with sexual dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / metabolism*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology
  • Testosterone / metabolism
  • Testosterone / physiology*


  • Testosterone