This is a two-edged sword!
Research studies have found that there is more than one way that nightly sleep can affect sex. For example, one side of the sword – poor sleep, has been strongly connected to sexual problems, including reduced sexual desire in women, and a high risk of erectile dysfunction in men. On the other hand, research has also indicated that sexual activity often contributes to better sleep. The hormones released after an orgasm, like oxytocin for example, can induce pleasant and relaxing feelings, promoting drowsiness and sleep. The relationship between sleep and sex presents creates an opportunity to improve both of them, as well as your overall well-being.
Sleep disorders which can negatively impact sex
Here are some common sleep problems which can interfere with your sexuality:
- Sleep deprivation, also known as insomnia, is one of the most common sleep disorders. It has been associated with reducing the sexual desire in women, and raising the risk of erectile dysfunction in men. Insomnia may therefore be a risk factor for a general sexual dysfunction of both men and women.
- Sleep apnoea, which involves recurring pauses in breathing that disrupts sleep, has been associated with a much higher risk of erectile dysfunction. Studies have suggested that this condition is also strongly related to sexual dysfunction in women.
- People who regularly do shift work, have also reported some sexual problems due to a lack of proper sleep. Unfortunately, some shift workers often battle to make up lost-sleep time, and may end up suffering from stress or anxiety.
- In addition to mental health issues, poor sleep can cause conflict with a partner which heightens stress, may reduce intimacy, and result in a less than satisfying sex life.
Most of these disorders, such as insufficient and disturbed sleep, can make conditions like depression anxiety much worse.
How sex can actually benefit sleep
Absurd as it may sound, sexual activity has been proven to often contribute to better sleep. This is mostly due to hormones which are released by the body after an orgasm:
- Dopamine, is released by the pituitary gland into the bloodstream when you are sexually stimulated. Dopamine, when released, helps you feel good, and enhances pleasure and satisfaction in a sexual encounter.
- Oxytocin, which is usually released after an orgasm, exudes feelings which foster future sexual arousal, facilitates closeness, intimacy, and keeps romance alive in a partnership.
- Sexual activity also reduces the level of the hormone cortisol. A high level of this hormone is associated with stress and anxiety, which in turn, is associated with poor sleep.
Research has shown that these hormonal changes can cause drowsiness, and make it easier to fall into a deeper, more relaxed period of sleep. However, it was noted that this change-of-hormone effect, is greater in males than in women. There is a popular social idea that this is why men can quickly slip into sleep after sex!
We can help!
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