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Sleep, Sex & Looking Good Naked

Let’s meet Michael!

Michael is married and his wife just recently had their first child. He has his own business and is doing pretty well for himself and his family, but the stress is picking up with his duties as a business owner and now being a father and supporting his wife the last couple of months.

Michael has decided that he should make some health changes since he’s now a father and wants to be able to interact with his son as he’s approaching his 40’s. It’s been a little over 14 years since he graduated from college as a former athlete which is also the last time he was consistent with any physical activity. He’s tried to make new year's resolutions and has joined gyms in the past, but nothing has stuck. He’s also started to notice that his six pack is going away even though he feels he’s been pretty consistent with his diet throughout his adult life.

Michael’s started getting up at 4:30 am everyday to go workout at 5:30am before the family and any business related things needed to be taken care of. After a few weeks of doing this he’s noticed no change in his physique, he’s actually getting flabber and he's noticing really bad sugar cravings in the afternoon and evening even though he’s been even more discipline with his diet.

As times gone on Michael tends to forget work-related things, and even stuff his wife has asked him to do throughout the week on a regular basis, which is something he’s never struggled with before. He feels as if he wants to sleep all afternoon until it's time to go bed. He typically wines down for bed around 10-10:30 pm, but has trouble falling asleep most nights while also having to get up to pee at some point early in the morning. He combats the tired and wired feeling everyday with multiple cups of coffee in order to make it through the day.

Finally one Thursday evening he comes home around 6 pm from his office and takes his son from his wife to give her some time to herself. A little later that afternoon they had some rare alone time and his wife jokingly makes a comment towards him about not making any moves on her since she’s had their son. He feels a little embarrassed and guilty because even though he loves his wife, he hasn’t really been in the mode to have sex.

Does any of these things sound familiar? This doesn’t necessarily have to be a Michael, it could be Mary.

Let's look at what’s going on:


Michael is only getting anywhere between 4-5 hours of sleep a night depending on when he actually falls asleep and then waking up to pee every night. His inability to fall asleep is called being “tired and wired”. This is a common thing for most people who have high amounts of stress throughout their day along with excessive caffeine consumption. The hormone cortisol is being stimulated at the wrong times typically at night when it's time to wind down and sleep. Ideally Cortisol should be elevated early in the morning allowing us to be fresh and energetic. When stress becomes chronic through sleep deprivation, poor sleep quality, excessive caffeine consumption, or poor stress management this hormone runs rampant. Most people also use alcohol consumption later in the day as a way to “wine down” which adds more fuel to fire, because alcohol affects melatonin release affecting our abilities to go into stage 3 and 4 sleep which are our most anabolic states explaining why we wake up not feeling refreshed.

How about that belly?

Michael has a sweet-tooth even though his diet is clean and he works out consistently so what’s the problem? Chronic cortisol levels mean elevated blood sugar and fatty acid release causing impaired insulin sensitivity and leptin sensitivity which ultimately means insulin resistance. When we become insulin resistance we are in a fat storage state which typically takes place in the midsection.

Let’s talk about sex baby!

Low sex drive and having to pee at night are indicators that his testosterone level is low. Cortisol and testosterone compete for the same resources. With the elevated cortisol levels and increased fat around the waist area his testosterone is being convert to estrogen by an enzyme called aromatase. This happens whether you’re male or female. Males sex drive, muscle mass, and secondary sex characteristics like hair and voice are impacted by low testosterone levels while women have a tendency to produce PMS, PCOS, fibroids, and infertility.

What did my wife ask me to do?

High cortisol levels put the body in a state of fight or flight meaning remembering things that don’t involve either fighting back or escaping will typically be forgotten. Things like future events, math, languages. This is why insulin resistance and oxidative stress from chronic cortisol elevation are similar mechanisms of dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Michael like most people have tons of stress. I don’t want to make cortisol seem bad because its not. Cortisol is necessary for our survival, but it's supposed to be elevated for short periods of time. In our world today we’re in a constant state of stress so its elevated chronically. Sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality are surefire ways to elevate cortisol chronically and watch the cascade effect as above.

What are some solutions:

  1. We should be sleeping 6-9 hours a night. (We need to go through both Non-REM and REM sleep at least 4 times a night with both of them lasting around 90 minutes)

  2. Sleep in a completely dark room. No night lights, tv, computer, phone screens etc. Our red blood cells can pick up light exposure affecting the release of melatonin.

  3. If you’re going drink alcohol drink earlier in day(4-5 hours before bed) and have a meal of protein and fat afterward

  4. Cut down on high consumption carbohydrates instead increase quality lean protein and fat intake. (Choose high quality complex carbs like sweet potatoes, white rice, quinoa, squash)

  5. Participate in at least 30 minutes of resistance training at least 3 times per week along with 20-30 minute of cardio 2x per week

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