Testosterone is a hugely important hormone — not just for men’s health and not just for your sex life. It’s responsible for everything from body fat distribution to muscle mass to bone strength, and having low levels can impact your mood, libido, and sleep.
And while testosterone supplements and replacement therapy do exist, they’re not always successful, more research needs to be done into the risks, and they can come with side effects — including messing up your sleep.
There are natural ways to boost your body’s production of the hormone, however, and many of them are simple lifestyle changes that can improve your sleep and overall health, too.
Below, we’ll explain how you can increase your testosterone naturally and how the RISE app can help.
First up, how do you know if you have low testosterone, also known as low t? Common symptoms include:
Testosterone deficiency can be caused by:
If you have symptoms like fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and low mood, sleep deprivation and being out of sync with your circadian rhythm (more on that soon) may be to blame.
One way to rule this out is by using the RISE app. RISE uses historical phone use data and proprietary sleep-science-based models to work out your sleep need — the genetically determined amount of sleep you need each night.
The app also works out your sleep debt. This is the running total of how much sleep you owe your body, which we measure over the last 14 nights. If you find your sleep debt is high, this could be the reason for some of your symptoms. It could also be the cause of low testosterone, too, as sleep is essential to testosterone production.
Finally, the app predicts your circadian rhythm each day, so you can see whether you’re living at odds with it. If you are, this may be the reason for many of the low testosterone-like symptoms, or it could be exacerbating them.
Luckily, many of the ways to boost testosterone naturally include improving your sleep or doing behaviors that indirectly improve your sleep.
Heads-up: Even if you have high sleep debt, you could still have low testosterone levels and it may be worth seeking medical advice to get your hormone levels checked with a blood test.
While the natural testosterone boosters below are risk-free and good for your health (so doing them even if your testosterone levels are fine isn’t a problem) you don’t want to take testosterone supplements if you don’t need them. Having too high testosterone levels can cause side effects like irritability, erectile dysfunction, and more shallow sleep.
RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to view their sleep need.
RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to view their sleep debt.
Here’s how to boost your testosterone levels without supplements or injections.
Sleep is essential to many things in life, including testosterone production. Your body starts producing the hormone when you fall asleep and it reaches peak production when you enter your first bout of rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep.
So, if you don’t get enough sleep at night, your body won’t get the chance to produce enough testosterone.
Research has found after eight nights of getting five hours of sleep a night, testosterone levels are reduced by 10% to 15% in young healthy men. And the more you sleep, the more your testosterone increases — all the way up to sleeping for 9.9 hours.
This is where keeping sleep debt low comes in. Use RISE to find out your individual sleep need and how much sleep debt you’re carrying. We recommend keeping sleep debt below five hours to maximize energy levels, and to give your body the chance to produce enough testosterone.
Got high sleep debt? Don’t worry, you can pay it back by:
RISE can keep track of your sleep debt as you chip away at it. As well as giving your body sufficient sleep time to produce testosterone, low sleep debt will boost your mood, health, productivity, and daytime energy levels — a win-win!
You can learn more about testosterone and sleep here.
Extreme morning people may say you should wake up at 4 a.m. to be productive, but your body says otherwise when it comes to testosterone production.
One study looked at young healthy men and compared getting no sleep to getting eight hours of sleep a night. We’re sure you can guess which one resulted in lower testosterone levels the next morning (hint: don’t pull an all-nighter if you’re trying to boost testosterone).
But beyond total sleep deprivation, sleep restricted to the first half of the night, not the second half, lowered testosterone levels, too.
Researchers compared sleeping from 2:45 a.m. to 7 a.m. and sleeping from 10:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. and found when sleep loss happened in the second half of the night, morning testosterone levels were lower.
This is because REM is essential to testosterone production and we spend more time in REM as we move through sleep cycles during the night. If you cut your sleep short by waking up early, or have trouble staying asleep towards the end of the night, you may be sabotaging your testosterone production.
Even more worrying? These results came after just one to two nights of cutting sleep short. So, prioritize getting a full night’s sleep and minimize any behaviors that could wake you up during the second half of the night (more on those soon) to ensure optimal testosterone production.
Sleep hygiene is the name for the healthy habits you can do each day to improve your sleep.
Improving your sleep hygiene can help boost your testosterone in a few ways:
You can learn more about sleep hygiene here, but here are a few key habits to start incorporating into your day:
Sound like a lot to remember? RISE can guide you through 20+ sleep hygiene habits each day and tell you the right time to do them to make them even more effective.
RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their 20+ in-app habit notifications.
Your circadian rhythm is your body’s internal body clock. It runs on a roughly 24-hour cycle and dictates everything from your sleep-wake times to your body temperature fluctuations.
Testosterone production doesn’t run on a circadian rhythm — it’s dependent on sleep no matter when you get it. But research hypothesizes that circadian rhythm disruption may lead to lowered testosterone levels. More research needs to be done into this area to confirm.
One study looked at testosterone levels and shift work, which often leads to living out of sync with your circadian rhythm as you’re working at night, sleeping during the day, and often changing your sleep schedule regularly.
Surprisingly, the study found testosterone levels in shift workers depended on how satisfied those shift workers were with their work life. Dissatisfied shift workers had lower testosterone levels than satisfied ones.
Low testosterone levels were linked to greater sleep need, disturbed sleep, and sleepiness, too.
The researchers stated: “The lower testosterone in dissatisfied shift workers may be interpreted with four different perspectives: sleep loss, stress, depression, and lack of control.”
“It seems reasonable to hypothesize that the low levels of testosterone may be due to disturbed sleep and/or a high sleep need, which, in turn, may result in more sleepiness and a greater need for recovery after a work period and, as a consequence of these problems, dissatisfaction with the shift schedule.”
(We’ve already shown how sleep loss can cut your testosterone production short, but we’ll dive into stress and depression soon.)
So, if you’re a shift worker who loves your job, you may not need to worry too much about work impacting your testosterone, as long as you’re keeping your sleep debt low.
Living out of sync with your circadian rhythm can lead to factors that do impact testosterone levels, however, including high sleep debt, fragmented sleep, and stress, so if work isn’t the reason you’re out of sync, you should still strive to get in sync.
You can sync up with your circadian rhythm by:
The RISE app predicts your circadian rhythm each day, so you can see when your body naturally wants to wind down for bed and go to sleep. You can then sync up your meals, light, and sleep-wake times to match.
It’s also useful to see what we call your Wake Zone, or when your body naturally wants to wake up. Strive to sleep until this time to stop sleep loss at the end of the night from tanking your testosterone production.
RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to see their circadian rhythm on the Energy screen.
Beyond focusing on sleep and circadian rhythm best practices, there are some other natural treatments to help maintain healthy testosterone levels.
The good news? Many of these testosterone-boosting behaviors help to improve your sleep and overall health, too.
Research shows UVB-treated mice have higher levels of testosterone. Sunlight also boosts your vitamin D levels, which have been linked to low testosterone.
For humans, get 30 minutes of sunlight exposure on your skin each day. For sleep, it’s important to get light into your eyes — although don’t look directly at the sun, of course. Simply head out without sunglasses and expose some skin while you’re at it.
As well as reducing chronic stress overall, incorporate relaxation techniques into your life to reduce anticipatory stress, which has also been linked to lower testosterone levels.
RISE can guide you through relaxation techniques like diaphragmatic breathing and progressive muscle relaxation to help. Lowering your stress and cortisol levels ensures you can unwind for bed and stop anxious thoughts from keeping you up at night, too.
RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to go right to their relaxation audio guide homepage and get started.
Is there nothing a good workout can’t fix? Men who regularly do physical activity have higher testosterone than sedentary men.
When it comes to the type of exercise, opt for strength training and weightlifting (testosterone is elevated directly after heavy resistance training in men, and sometimes in women) and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) as high-intensity exercise boosts levels in both non-athletes and athletes.
However, don’t overdo it, especially cardio. Over-exercising has been linked to lower testosterone levels. When previously sedentary males increased their weekly running to about 35 miles per week, their testosterone levels decreased. More research needs to be done, but clearly, there’s a middle ground somewhere.
Working out also helps your fall asleep each night — just be sure to avoid intense exercise about an hour before bed. Check RISE for the best time to work out each day. The app can tell you when you’ll have more energy and when you should skip the gym and focus on winding down.
RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their avoid late workouts reminder.
Eat a healthy diet to promote testosterone production. Blood sugar spikes, like the ones you get from eating sugary snacks or simple carbs, can tank your testosterone levels.
Eating a healthy diet will also help you maintain or lose weight, which will also boost testosterone. Testosterone concentration is 50% lower in those who are obese compared to those with a normal body mass index (BMI).
Weight loss with both high-protein and high-carbohydrate diets for those who are overweight or obese has been shown to boost testosterone. And weight loss can also help those with sleep apnea boost their testosterone levels (we summarize what the science says about taking testosterone if you have sleep apnea here).
While heavy drinking is associated with lower levels, research suggests low-level amounts of alcohol can actually increase testosterone levels in the short-term in both men and women.
Remember to avoid alcohol in the run-up to bedtime to stop it from waking you up during the night.
RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their avoid late alcohol reminder.
The medication you’re taking for other health issues could be causing lowered testosterone as a side effect. Statins, used to lower cholesterol, can lower testosterone in both men and women, for example.
More research needs to be done into the safety and efficacy of supplements, so we recommend focusing on the risk-free natural cures for low testosterone like lowering sleep debt, exercising, and cutting down on alcohol.
Speak to a doctor before taking supplements, however, especially if you have an existing health condition. And avoid steroids, which have been linked to sleep problems like reduced total sleep time and more nighttime awakenings.
Your body needs a good night’s rest to produce enough testosterone, so to boost your levels naturally, focus on your sleep. Make sure you’re keeping your sleep debt low overall and focusing on not cutting your sleep short in the second half of the night. Staying in sync with your circadian rhythm and improving your sleep hygiene will help make this happen.
Use the RISE app to find out how much sleep debt you have, see a prediction of your circadian rhythm each day, and get personalized reminders for when to do 20+ sleep hygiene habits to help make getting a good night’s sleep easier to do. The good news? All of these behaviors will boost your mood, productivity, and health, alongside testosterone.
You can build up your testosterone naturally by getting enough sleep each night, prioritizing sleep in the second half of the night, exercising, cutting down on alcohol, and getting 30 minutes of sunlight each day.
You can boost testosterone fast by getting enough sleep, as morning testosterone levels are impacted after only one night of sleep loss. Testosterone levels are also elevated directly after heavy resistance training. Long term, focus on keeping sleep debt low, cutting down on alcohol, and lowering stress levels.
Foods that can increase testosterone include leafy greens, eggs, ginger, pomegranate juice, olive oil, and onions. A high-fat diet has also been linked to higher testosterone.
Supplements that may increase testosterone include Zinc, vitamin D, ginger, and ashwagandha. More research needs to be done into the long-term safety and efficacy of supplements, however, as they may not be suitable for everyone.
You can increase testosterone in females by keeping sleep debt low, lowering stress levels, exercising, and cutting down on alcohol.
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