Getting Enough Sleep Can Drastically Improve Your Sex Life


Getting Enough Sleep Can Drastically Improve Your Sex Life


One in three American adults does not get enough sleep. Sexual issues are also common, with as many as 45% of women and 31% of men having a concern about their sex life. According to Laurie Mintz, Professor of Psychology at the University of Florida, while these may seem like distinct concerns, they are highly related.

How is sleep related to sex? Well, we usually sleep and have sex in the same place – the bedroom. Less apparent, but more significant, is that lack of sleep as well as the lack of sex share several common underlying causes, such as stress. Especially important, the lack of sleep can lead to sexual problems, while a lack of sex can lead to sleep problems. On the other hand, getting a good night’s sleep can result in a higher interest in sex, and orgasmic sex can lead to a better night’s sleep.

Laurie Mintz is a sex educator and researcher who's published several studies on the efficiency of self-help books in enhancing sexual functioning. She has also written two sexual self-help books, both based on research findings. Her latest book, “Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters – and How to Get It,” aims to empower women to reach orgasm. More pertinent to the link between sleep and sex, her first book, “A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex,” aimed to help the numerous women who say they're too exhausted to be interested in sex.

According to Mintz, both sleep problems and low sexual desire affect women disproportionately, and the relationship between the two is indisputable. Women tend to have sleep problems more often than men. The most common sexual complaint women talk about to sex therapists and physicians is low desire. Surprisingly, being too tired for sex is the number one reason that women give for their lack of desire.

Getting Enough Sleep Can Drastically Improve Your Sex Life


Conversely, a good night’s sleep can increase sexual desire. A recent study discovered that the longer women slept, the more they were interested in sex the following day. Only one extra hour of sleep led to a 14% increase in the chances of having intercourse the next day. Also, in the same study, getting more rest was related to better genital arousal.

While the study was conducted with college women, those in different life stages have even more interrelated sex and sleep issues. Menopause includes a complicated interaction of biological and psychological problems which are associated with both sleep and sex. Importantly, a recent study discovered that among menopausal women, sleep problems were directly related to sexual problems. Sleep issues were, in fact, the only menopausal symptom for which such a direct link was found.

Interrelated sleep and sexual issues are also common among mothers. Mothers of newborn babies are the least likely to sleep well, mostly because they're caring for their baby during the night. However, ongoing sleep and sexual problems for mothers are usually caused by having too much to do and being stressed about that. Women, who are married with school-age kids and working full time, are the most likely to suffer from insomnia. Still, part-time working mothers and mothers who don’t work outside the house report issues with sleep as well.

Although fathers also struggle with anxiety, there's evidence that stress, as well as the resulting sleepless nights, dampen a woman’s sexual desire more than they do a man’s. Some of this has to do with hormones. Both insufficient sleep and stress lead to the release of cortisol, and cortisol lowers testosterone. Testosterone plays a significant role in the sex drive of both women and men. Men have notably more testosterone than women. So, if we think of testosterone as a tank of gas, the cortisol that is released by stress and lack of sleep may take a woman’s tank to empty, yet merely decrease a man’s tank to half full.

Getting Enough Sleep Can Drastically Improve Your Sex Life


While lack of sleep and stress appears to affect women’s sexual functioning more than it affects men’s, men still suffer from interrelated issues in these areas. One study discovered that among healthy young men, a lack of sleep led to decreased levels of testosterone, the hormone that's responsible for much of our sex drive. According to another study, adult men's sleep apnea contributed to erectile dysfunction as well as an overall decrease in sexual functioning. Among men, lack of sleep clearly results in diminished sexual functioning.

While sleep (and stress) affect sex, the reverse is also true: sex affects sleep (and stress). Sex expert Ian Kerner has pointed out that too little sex can result in sleeplessness and irritability. Conversely, there's some evidence that the stress hormone cortisol is lowered after orgasms. There is also evidence that oxytocin, the “love hormone” released after orgasms, causes not only increased feelings of connection with a partner but also better sleep.

Additionally, experts say that sex may have gender-specific results in sleep. Among women, orgasms increase estrogen, which results in deeper sleep. Among men, the hormone prolactin secreted after orgasm leads to sleepiness.

It's now clear that a possible cause of sex issues is sleeplessness and that a possible cause of sleeplessness is sex problems. That knowledge can lead to obvious, yet usually overlooked, cures for both issues. Indeed, experts have suggested that sleep hygiene might help alleviate sexual problems and that sex might help those suffering from insomnia.

Reference: The Conversation


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Thinking Humanity: Getting Enough Sleep Can Drastically Improve Your Sex Life
Getting Enough Sleep Can Drastically Improve Your Sex Life
One in three American adults does not get enough sleep. Sexual issues are also common, with as many as 45% of women and 31% of men having a concern about their sex life.
Thinking Humanity
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