Feeling stressed? Having trouble falling asleep? A roll in the hay may be just what you need to chase away insomnia and catch some z’s.
Most people are aware that experts recommend that your bedroom is reserved for only two activities: sex and sleep. What many might not know, however, is they are closely linked.
The more sex you have, the better you sleep. And, the better you sleep, the more likely you are to want to have sex. (Pro tip: explore our picks for the best mattresses for sex).
There are some caveats to keep in mind. First of all, this practice works best when both partners achieve orgasm. Without an orgasm, you miss out on a relaxation-inducing chemical cocktail that helps you drift off. If your partner fails to climax, then they won’t be in the restful state of bliss that you are, and it could affect your ability to get some shuteye, especially if they’re feeling restless (or resentful) afterward.
Can Sex Give You Better Sleep?
The science is clear that having sex before bed helps you fall asleep faster. It’s not always a home run, but this sleep-inducing technique is shown to work about 66% of the time.
It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? After all, intercourse is a physical and sometimes sweaty activity. It elevates the heart rate, and it can be quite exhilarating. How can that cause someone to feel sleepy? As we alluded to a moment ago, the secret lies in both partners climaxing. That’s where the magic happens.
How Sex Promotes Good Sleep
Oxytocin is a hormone that serves a variety of functions, including helping in childbirth, but it’s most known as the “love hormone.” It elevates in our system during stress, bonding, and yes, sex and orgasm. It promotes attachment and solidifies relationships, which is why you often feel closer to someone after a sexual encounter.
It also promotes a feeling of calm and security, which helps someone drift off in the arms of their companion. Another way it helps promote sleepiness is that balances out the effect of cortisol, a stress hormone. The sense of calmness that takes over after intercourse due to a release of oxytocin makes falling asleep a breeze.
We hear a lot about endorphins being released during and after intense exercise sessions. But with sex, it doesn’t have to be sweaty or aerobic to release this feel-good neurotransmitter. By feeling euphoric and gaining a sense of calm, it’s much easier to drift off to dreamland.
Boosts Estrogen Levels for Women
Upon orgasm, estrogen levels rise in women. The effect is enhanced REM (rapid eye movement) cycles and deeper sleep. If you tend to wake up frequently throughout the night, you might discover that after a session of coitus you’re able to stay asleep until morning.
Boosts Prolactin Levels for Men
We often hear of prolactin in women, as it’s a milk-production hormone. However, it’s also present in men. It’s believed that orgasm releases prolactin, which helps maintain healthy testosterone levels and muscle mass. When men experience conditions like erectile dysfunction, they’re often tested for increased levels of prolactin.
So, therefore, keeping it at a balanced level is crucial for both overall health and a restful night of slumber.
As oxytocin levels rise in the system, cortisol decreases. Cortisol is a stress hormone, so it’s logical to conclude that elevated levels would make falling asleep problematic.
Ways Better Sleep Can Improve Your Sex Life
If you regularly feel too tired or exhausted to engage in sexual activity, it could be lack of rest and a hormone imbalance that’s sabotaging intimate time with your partner. By getting more hours of high-quality rest each night, you could experience an increase in desire.
When couples are sleep-deprived, hormones like estrogen and testosterone drop. These hormonal imbalances decrease libido and energy. So, get some rest and then have some fun with your partner! Maybe try morning sessions to kick-start the day (or if your bed seems bad you can check out top bed picks for sex here).
Being tired is the number one killer of sexual excitement. It’s difficult to picture enjoying physical activity when you’re exhausted. After maintaining periods of adequate rest, your hormone levels will balance out, your energy will be restored, and you’ll find yourself back in the saddle.
Sleep deprivation makes people grumpy and irritable. It doesn’t take a scientific study to prove that! On days when you haven’t gotten proper rest, you’re more likely to be on edge. Small but daily annoyances like your partner leaving shoes and socks throughout the house or never taking out the trash all of a sudden become a big deal. You might typically exercise control of your frustrations, but after a long day on too-little shuteye, an outburst may be in order.
As you know from experience, arguing with your partner is not likely to end in a loving and intimate bedroom encounter. That is unless you’re one of those couples that enjoys fighting just to make up. In that case, we still recommend getting the right amount of shuteye.
Fewer Sleep Disturbances
Ironically, the more sleep-deprived you are, the less chance you have of sleeping uninterrupted during the night. Or, you may have sleep-related disorders like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, or periodic leg movement disorder (PLMD). By finding ways to get more consistent shuteye, you may find that you rest better throughout the night and your sex life improves.
Consider getting a more comfortable mattress, especially if you’re waking up feeling sore or stiff (see our top picks the best beds for sleep apnea). If you have a condition like sleep apnea or another disorder, check with your doctor to make sure you’re treating the symptoms correctly.
When you get adequate amounts of rest, you tend to stop worrying about little things, which allows you to enjoy time with your partner more. If your routine has been relegated to weekend sex only, make it a point to schedule both longer bedtime and fun sexy time during the week.
Defeats Erectile Dysfunction
Lack of rest causes a drop in testosterone levels and an increase in prolactin. Both of these situations are linked to decreased sexual desire as well as erectile dysfunction.
Sync Sex Schedules
Work on mirroring your partner’s sleep schedules so that you can also sync up your sex schedules. If one of you stays up late watching television or working on the computer when the other goes to bed, it dramatically reduces your chances of making time for sex. It could also lead to one person being wide awake and ready for action while the other is completely wiped out.
You may not be able to sync things perfectly, but do your best to go to bed and get up at approximately the same time as your partner.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is sexsomnia?
Sexsomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by engaging (or at least trying to engage) in sexual behavior while you’re asleep. It’s like sleepwalking, but instead, it’s sleep sex. If you have a partner, they may not realize you’re sleeping. The person with the disorder is not aware of what they’re doing and may have no memory of it happening at all.
What is post-coital insomnia?
While most people feel relaxed and ready for deep slumber after sex, some people experience post-coital insomnia, and they find themselves unable to fall asleep after the act. This is partially an evolutionary tactic, especially for females. While the men’s biological role was to impregnate the woman, the women in the tribe were often awake after sex, feeding babies and guarding the cave if the men were out hunting.
Another reason for post-coital insomnia is the failure to climax. If you’ve gotten yourself worked up in a sweaty session of intercourse, but were deprived of the flood of calming post-orgasm hormones, then you may find that you’re even more wound up and restless than you were before having sex.
People desperate for shuteye turn to a variety of solutions, from Ambien to antidepressants. Fortunately, there’s a much more fun and natural way to induce drowsiness. As long as you have a consenting partner, you may be able to improve your bedtime instantly – no drugs required.
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Jill Zwarensteyn is the Editor for Sleep Advisor and a Certified Sleep Science Coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.