If you ever needed a real, honest reason to stay in bed and get those extra Zs, we have you covered. Sleep is easily one of the most important things that you can do for your health. Pretty much everything going on in your bodily ecosystem centers around it—even sex.
No, we’re not talking about that time you fell asleep waiting for your partner to change into lingerie, we’re talking about how sleep affects libido. Sleep is at the center of your libido. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your sex drive is going to take a massive nosedive.
You might want to rethink taking on that extra project at work or staying up late to finish your favorite Netflix original. Here's why sleep is so essential to maintaining a healthy libido.
Why sleep is so important
Experts say that adults require at least six to nine hours of sleep per night. This is how much time your body needs each evening to recover from the day’s exertions.
When you sleep, your body repairs itself. It is the time of day when your muscles, blood vessels, brain, and organs rejuvenate. Studies have shown that people who undergo regular sleep deprivation see a breakdown in their major muscles and organs, leading to such ailments as cardiovascular disease and kidney failure.
Sleep helps with everything in your life. When you sleep well, you make better decisions, your mood is more stable, and your overall wellbeing is drastically improved. If you don’t sleep, your brain starts to shut down. Your body stops responding to regular stimuli and your immune system bites the dust.
In a word: Sleep is not optional.
Lack of sleep has been linked to depression and anxiety, as well as a decrease your appetite for sex. You are less likely to want sex when you’re anxious or depressed. Oh, great. No sleep and no sex? You heard right.
Sex and sleep
A lack of sleep messes up your hormones in a big way. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, “Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don't get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when you're well-rested.”
It’s even more sinister than a few cookies, unfortunately. Hormones play an integral part in your body’s sexual cycle. Your body releases dopamine, the body’s incentive hormone, when it’s turned on. If you don’t sleep, your dopamine receptors don’t function properly, which screws up your sex drive.
Then, just to make everything worse, your body will have trouble reaching orgasm due to dulled pleasure receptors and exhaustion.
For women, a study showed that increased sleep had a direct impact on sexual response. Meaning, you’re more likely to orgasm if you’re sleeping your full eight hours. We know this might add more stress to an already stressful situation, but seriously: If you don’t sleep, you won’t be able to come. According to the Journal of Sex and Medicine, getting just one more hour of sleep per night could increase your libido by 14 percent.
For men, a lack of sleep can lower testosterone levels and interfere with sperm count. Not a great way to be.
How to get more sleep with the help of sex
Now, the two worlds collide! Sleep and sex are not only directly correlated to each other in the ways we’ve already mentioned, but the two can actually work hand-in-hand.
How? Orgasms, of course. If you want to get more sleep and have tried all the usual things to relax, you can always have an orgasm. When you experience an orgasm, your brain releases oxytocin, the brain’s bonding and pain-relieving hormone. Oxytocin helps decrease stress so you can drift off into a restful slumber.
During sexual activity your body also releases norepinephrine and serotonin, two of the main hormones that contribute to REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. REM cycles increase the restorative quality of sleep. Studies have shown that having an orgasm right before bed can notably improve sleep quality.
Try taking a hot bath thirty minutes before bedtime. This will help relax your muscles. Then, take some time with your vibrator or your partner. You don’t have to jump into intercourse if you’re tired. Sleep deprivation makes your libido plummet. Having sex in order to sleep, when you’re sleep deprived, and therefore not into sex may sound a bit, well, far-reaching.
Instead, try mutual masturbation. You and your partner can lie next to each other and stimulate yourselves. It is a way to experience closeness and intimacy without the physical effort penetration or oral sex often takes.
Who knew sleep and sex could be such close friends?