How Your Sleep Habits Can Negatively Impact Your Relationship

Updated 04/27/19

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Sleep is essential for functioning as a normal adult human in the world. We can probably all agree on this, right? When you don’t sleep properly, you’re irritable, exhausted out, and unable to properly handle your responsibilities. Sleep is, without question, bae. But just as sleeping is important for you to be your best self, sleep is just as important for your love life to be its best—AKA for your other bae to be happy.

Stephanie D. McKenzie, a certified sleep science, life, and relationship coach at The Healing Firm explains that The National Sleep Foundation recommends “adults get a minimum of seven and a maximum of nine hours of QUALITY sleep each night for optimal cognitive and physical function during the day.”

Without sleep, your energy and libido will take a nosedive. “When sleep is lacking, so is the energy we need to engage in any activity, including sex,” McKenzie tells Brides. “Low libido can be caused by many physiological and emotional reasons, and these include being sleep deprived.” Here is what you need to know about sleep, sex drive, and what you can do to improve your Zs.

Lack of Sleep Tanks Libido

According to a new study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, an extra hour of sleep can increase the likeliness of engaging in sexual activity by 14%. Now that's a huge margin.

SleepScore Labs scientific advisory board member Dr. Nate Watson says that your vagina is not down with your late-night shenanigans and early mornings. “Women with chronic sleep deprivation experience poorer vaginal arousal during sex than women getting adequate sleep.” What does that mean? Turn off Netflix and go to bed or your vagina will go on strike.

You Can’t Be a Good Partner When You’re Tired

Lack of sleep makes it hard to be an engaged romantic partner in all aspects of a relationship. It’s not just about sex; you can’t be the empathetic and loving person you are if you’re exhausted.

“Poor sleep hygiene, insomnia or parasomnias can affect your relationship if only because you're just too tired to be a great partner,” McKenzie says. “Sometimes the feeling of being tired often morphs into being irritated, frustrated and agitated and these feelings absolutely affect the way you engage with and speak to your partner, as well as others in your life.” When you’re lacking in emotional and physical stamina, you stop being a dependable partner and start to be a strain on your partner (and vice-versa).

Common Sleep Disruptors When You’re Coupled Up

Being in a relationship with someone often means dealing with incongruent sleep patterns. It’s not particularly common that you and your boo would be totally synced up on sleep schedules, sleep aids, and sleep times.

“Couples with divergent sleep habits can disrupt each other's sleep when coming to bed after their partner has already gone to sleep or waking up before their partner. The associated bedroom noises, light intrusion, and alarms are disruptive to sleep,” says Watson. McKenzie adds that snoring, sleep apnea, and restless sleeping are other common factors in disruptive sleep.

What You Can Do

If you’re dealing with snoring or sleep apnea, consult a primary care physician. These issues can often be corrected with the right equipment and an action plan. Don’t ignore your (or your partner’s) sleep issues. You both have to live together, and when one or both of you aren’t sleeping properly, the entire relationship suffers.

If you can’t find a solution that works for you, you don’t have to share a bed. While people often guffaw at the idea of sleeping in separate rooms, McKenzie says it works for some couples. “There is nothing to be ashamed of if that is something that you both agree to do,” she says. “As long as sleeping apart is not done out of a desire to punish your partner, it is fine.”

If you want to continue sharing a bed, “then both parties will have to discuss and develop sleep hygiene practices that work for them both, just like any other aspect of a relationship where we are incongruent and doing what's best for us, but perhaps what's not best for the team,” McKenzie tells us. So, if you’re having issues with sleep and aren’t sure where to start, consult your doctor today. There is no time like the present to get quality rest—you legitimately need it to function.

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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