Too little sleep could be damaging to men’s fertility by
slashing their sperm counts, new research shows.
Scientists found sperm numbers dropped by more than
a quarter in men not getting a full night’s rest due to late
nights, insomnia and broken sleep.
Alarmingly, it even made their testicles shrink, the study
Sleep loss has in the past been linked with increased
risk of obesity, chest cancer and heart disease.
Experts believe the ideal amount of rest is between
seven and eight hours a night.
For example, one US study showed adults getting less
than six hours a night were 36 per cent more likely to
suffer a heart attack and 22 per cent more at risk of
a stroke than those who got a full seven or eight hours.
But the latest investigation, by researchers from the
University of Southern Denmark, is believed to be the
first to show insufficient rest can also affect male
Sperm counts have been tumbling in recent years amid
fears that male fertility is being harmed by poor diet
and lifestyle, or even ‘gender-bending’ chemicals in the
But the latest research, published in the American
Journal of Epidemiology, suggests modern sleep
patterns may also be a factor.
Scientists quizzed nearly 1,000 men in their late teens
or early twenties on their sleeping routines.
They also took sperm samples to check for quality.
The results showed men who frequently went to bed
late, woke lots in the night or struggled to get to sleep
in the first place, had a sperm count that was 29 per
cent lower than those who had no trouble nodding off.
Tests showed their testicles were also significantly
In a report scientists said it’s not clear why it causes
But they stressed men who sleep less tend to have
unhealthier lifestyles. They were fatter, drank more
alcohol and were more often smokers.
It’s also possible that sleep problems damage levels of
testosterone, as at least one other small study has
found keeping young men awake for longer reduces the
body’s production of the hormone.
The Danish researchers said: ‘Men with a poor sleep
score had poorer semen quality and smaller testicles.
‘This is the first study to relate sleep disturbances to
semen quality. The results may have important public
‘But it remains to be seen whether improved sleeping
patterns restore that quality.’
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