Lack of sleep affects every area of your life, including one you probably hadn’t even considered: sex.
People require seven to nine hours of sleep per night—so do romantic relationships, lest they suffer needlessly. “Being too tired is the number one reason that women blame for their loss of desire,” University of Florida psychology professor Laurie Mintz explains to CNN. “A great number of women say that their primary issue is simply being too depleted to have an interest in sex and not some looming relationship problem.”
“Of all the benefits of better sleep, an improved sex life should be the easiest sell of all,” says Sarah Brown, a sleep expert at Sleeptrain.com. Improved health and more energy are obvious pluses, but think about why you clicked on this link. Sleeping your way to better (and more) sex seems too easy to be true, and guess what? It is. Let’s look at how your sleep habits can impact how you and your partner sleep together:
- Attractiveness. It’s called “beauty sleep” for a reason: If you’re not well-rested, you’re not likely to be looking so hot—no one likes to hear, “You look tired.” Superficial as it may seem, appearances matter in the perceived sexiness of both women and men. “Sleep is the body’s natural beauty treatment,” British Medical Journal researcher John Axelsson tells ABC News. “It’s probably more effective than any other treatment you could buy.”
- Testosterone levels. Men who slept fewer than five hours a night for a week displayed lower levels of testosterone than those who got seven to nine hours, a University of Chicago study has found, and seven days of sleep deprivation lowered T levels by 10-15%. In addition to being crucial for building strength, muscle mass, and bone density, testosterone is also more closely linked to libido than any other hormone. More ZZZs, higher T.
- Mood. Lack of sleep inevitably leads to irritability, short-temperedness and stress, which can in turn lead to more sleeplessness—a vicious, unsexy cycle. Your funny bone can also suffer: “Making someone laugh is perceived as the best way to attract a romantic partner,” observes Psychology Today. “Yet people often don’t realize that their own sense of humor fluctuates with their ability to get a good night’s sleep.
- The “love hormone.” Also known as the “cuddle hormone,” oxytocin is released by the brain when you snuggle or bond socially—you can even feel it when tussling with your dog. “For women, sleeping with a man promotes feelings of safety,” Bruce Corser of the Sleep Management Institute tells Men’s Fitness. “Women in stable relationships fall asleep faster and awaken less frequently compared to single women.”
- Synchronized schedules. Come together, early birds and night owls: The more time you’re under the sheets with each other, the more likely you’ll end up having sex. “Ideally, you want to go to bed and wake up around the same time,” Corser continues. “All it takes is two days for your circadian rhythm to reschedule itself. Get into bed with her at the same time each night. You’ll have greater intimacy by spending the time together.”
- Less conflict. Make-up sex may be a staple of romantic comedies, but that fight could have been avoided in the first place if someone had gotten more shut-eye. “In a 14-day daily experience study, participants reported more conflict in their romantic relationships following poor nights of sleep,” details a SAGE Journals article, “as well as decreased empathic accuracy for both partners during a conflict conversation.”
While improving your sleep for your sex life will also mean doing the same for the person sleeping with you, sleep necessity varies between individuals, and men and women tend to have specific sleep issues. Women, on average, fall asleep more slowly than men and tend to go to sleep earlier in the night and wake up earlier in the morning. Meanwhile, men are twice as likely to develop sleep apnea, resulting in snoring and gasping for air.
Find your common sleep ground, and your sex life and your relationship will benefit greatly—there’s no reason you couldn’t be sleeping better, together, tonight.
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