Top 6 Men's Health Questions
5. What about sleep -- why is it important for me? continued...
Sleep disorders can also have physical causes. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), for example, disrupts breathing and forces you to wake up to draw a deep breath. It affects an estimated 4% to 9% of middle-aged men (twice the rate in women), yet as many as 90% of cases go undiagnosed. OSA raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure as well as car crashes, which are more common among the sleep-deprived.
You can vastly improve your sleep, White says, by having good sleep habits: Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, exercise regularly and early in the day, avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening, don't eat large meals at night, skip the alcohol right before bedtime, and use the bedroom for sleep and sex only. If these measures don't help, see your doctor. For chronic insomnia, your doctor may advise cognitive behavioral therapy to help you develop healthier sleep habits.
6. Does my sexual health affect the rest of my health?
You bet it does. For example, erectile dysfunction (ED) is a concern that goes beyond the bedroom. "This is not merely a psychological or sexual problem," says Seballos. "ED is a risk factor for heart disease."
In a 2010 study published in the journal Circulation, men with ED were twice as likely to have a heart attack and nearly twice as likely to die of heart disease as other men. And, Seballos adds, men who have trouble with erections tend to be overweight or obese, and to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
"I am particularly worried when a younger man complains of erectile dysfunction," says Seballos. "The younger you are, the more likely your erectile dysfunction is a sign that you are at risk of heart disease."
White says other factors are frequently at play with ED. Low testosterone levels as well as diabetes, substance abuse, stress, and sleep deprivation can affect your sex life, not to mention your overall health.
Many of the men White sees for ED ask for quick fixes such as erection-enhancing drugs. For a long-term solution, you need to make some lifestyle changes. Sexual health depends on getting and staying fit, physically and mentally.