Hormones are everything. Your energy, sex drive, mood, brain function, body weight—it’s all governed by the complex balance of chemicals coursing through your veins. And for men, one hormone in particular deserves extra attention: Testosterone.
If you don’t already know, testosterone is the primary hormone that gives men bigger bones and muscles than women. It’s produced primarily in the testes, and it directly affects attention span, confidence, and a host of other things you want more of.
But here’s the challenge for aging men: Testosterone declines rapidly with age. It’s natural. After the age of 30, your testosterone falls, 4 to 2 percent per year. And there’s reason to believe that levels today are lower than they were in decades past: One study from 2007 found the testosterone scores were dropping independent of age. One theory floated by the researchers is that our hormones are being attacked by environmental changes. If true, it means you could do everything right, and still end up with low T.
What’s shocking here is that even as men experience health problems related to low testosterone, they fail to give the hormone much thought. In a survey of healthcare professionals, 50 percent reported that their patients rarely or never initiated conversations about low testosterone or the possible ways to treat it.
But as it turns out, there are plenty of things you can do right now to keep your testosterone high.
1/ Hit Your Sleep Quota
Your body’s sleep-wake cycle is governed by a circadian rhythm that’s supposed to dole out hormones to make you sleepy at night and alert in the morning.
When everything’s working properly, both testosterone and cortisol, the hormone associated with stress, should peak between 8 am and 10 am—just as you’re firing up for the day. And both hormones should drop to their lowest levels at night, when it’s time to power down. But if you’re staying up late, or not sleeping soundly, then you’re disrupting your circadian rhythm and compromising your hormonal health.
One study published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism found that natural testosterone spikes were thrown out of whack in sleep-deprived men. And researchers from the University of Hong Kong found that men who slept the most—as much as 9.9 hours per night—had the highest amounts of testosterone and greatest muscle mass.
The men in the study were older, so you might not need as much sleep as they did. Still, give yourself a hard bedtime that’s at least eight hours before your scheduled wake time. The best-case scenario is that you go to bed so early that you find yourself waking up naturally before your alarm clock goes off. If that means skipping a third episode of Succession, so be it. The extra sleep will not only allow you to feel your best, but it will also make a strong investment in your hormonal health.
2/ Find a De-Stress Strategy That Works for You
Research shows that the cortisol, that’s the stress hormone mentioned above, can actively undermine the effects of testosterone.
In one study, researchers at Harvard, Stanford, and Texas Universities looked at the hormone levels of business executives, and they discovered that those with the most subordinates working beneath them had the highest levels of testosterone. But the results only held among those executives who also had the low levels of cortisol.
The results indicate that stress undermines testosterone’s power to improve confidence, charisma, decision-making, competitive drive, and all the things that combine to make good leaders.
How you choose to cut stress is up to you. But the most heavily researched and effective strategies include daily doses of exercise, time with friends and family, and mindfulness practices like yoga or breathwork.
3/ Consider a Testosterone Supplement
Natural testosterone in your blood comes from parent hormones like pregnenolone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), steroids that are released naturally by your adrenal glands. One way to trigger testosterone production is to increase the levels of these precursors.
One study found that supplemental DHEA not only increased circulating testosterone in middle-aged men, but it also prevented the natural testosterone decline that tends to occur after intense exercise. This is why we at ASYSTEM include DHEA, along with pregnenolone, in our Superhuman Supplements: Supplemental help can fill in the void and lead to substantial physical, mental, cardiovascular, and metabolic benefits. It’s not that you have to use our product. We just happen to think it’s the best option available.