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Sex is a great activity that releases stress. High stress levels can severely impact and interfere with your sleep, and you need to find things that will relax you. One of those things is sex in which your body releases hormones that make you feel good. Your body floods the brain with endorphins, and oxytocin that act both as painkillers and mood enhancers. This hormone release can be a powerful cure for stress and anxiety. Keep reading to find out how sex affects your sleep.
The Effect on Men
Men tend to go to sleep immediately after sex, without any cuddling or kissing. Women often get frustrated by this, but there is a biological reason for this situation. After sex, men get a surge of all the feel-good hormones coursing in their bodies. However, they also get a rush of hormone prolactin – a protein hormone that promotes lactation, controls many behavioral processes and plays a role in homeostasis. It is also linked to sexual satisfaction and the “refractory period” that men have after orgasming. The levels of prolactin are even higher when you sleep, so the surge is what causes men to feel sleepy after sex.
The Effect on Women
Women also get a surge of prolactin after an orgasm. A study conducted on healthy women showed estrogen levels increase during sexual stimulation, and another study has proved that higher estrogen levels positively affect sleep quality. Other studies of women during sexual stimulation discovered that the areas responsible for alertness and anxiety (the hippocampus and the amygdala) have a decrease in activity. This means that sexual activity will turn off the parts of the brain that cause you to feel stressed and anxious, ensuring you sleep like a baby.
How Does Sleep Improve Sex?
There are many links between sleep and sex. Having sex can help you fall asleep, and excellent sleep quality can boost your libido. Researchers have found that sleep deprivation can impact your sex life. Being too tired for sex cause many problems for couples.
Multiple studies have been done to find the link between these two. A study that examined women in their twenties showed that those who had more sleep at night had a greater sexual desire. They also had better arousal during sex. And women who got more sleep on a regular basis also had an increased sexual desire. By also examining women between 50 and 79, researchers noticed that less than 7 hours of sleep lowered sexual satisfaction. This also showed that poor sleep is among many factors that can affect the woman’s sex drive in menopause. Short sleep has an impact on almost every aspect of our health, and sexual health is definitely not an exception.
Depression and anxiety, as side effects of sleep deprivation and insomnia, take a toll on your sex life. The body gets stressed from lack of sleep and causes the brain to stop making sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen, and instead, starts producing stress hormones like cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone made by the adrenal glands – the organs on your kidneys, and it is the body’s main stress hormone. By working with different parts of your brain, it can take control of your mood, fear, and motivation. This hormone shift leads to a decreased sex drive, lower fertility, and even erectile dysfunction.
Apart from sleep deprivation, sleep disorders can impact your sex life. Men that have sleep apnea can also have erectile dysfunction (ED), but the connection between these two is not yet clear. Some hypothesize that sleep deprivation can be the cause of that link, while others suggest that the condition itself is causing certain bodily responses that cause erectile dysfunction. One thing is sure, if the sleep apnea interrupts your sleep, it will affect your testosterone levels, and that can reduce your libido or cause erection issues. Additionally, erectile dysfunction is very stressful, and it can cause sleep deprivation as well. However, men that get treatment for their sleep apnea or any other sleep disorder often have an improvement in their sex lives.
This is more prevalent in women due to the effects of pregnancy, menstruation, menopause, and postpartum lifestyle can have on sleep. These situations can cause many sleep disorders, and cause sleep deprivation. In many cases, women’s sex drive is decreased due to stress, depression or fatigue.
Chemicals and Hormones Released During Sex
Like we mentioned before, sleep deprivation can severely impact your sex life, but in the same way, sex can help you sleep better (which will improve your sex life). Researchers found that in many cases sex before sleep can help improve the sleep quality. After you have an orgasm, your body releases hormones that will relax you and your brain will get feelings of tranquility. The endorphins that are released during sex help relieve anxiety and minimize stress. During sex, your body also releases oxytocin, also known as the love hormone. This hormone causes many pleasant effects on the body and mind, including cueing relaxation. Oxytocin for women is known as the cuddle hormone, and it is the reason women want to cuddle after an orgasm. And it also reduces stress. Apart from these, the body releases dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that causes feelings of pleasure, plays a significant role in the brain’s center for reward. For men, the release of prolactin and serotonin makes it difficult to have intercourse again but instead makes it easier to have a nap.
These hormones do not make you feel sleepy themselves, but they do provide you with a relaxing and happy feeling that makes it easy for you to fall asleep. Many studies have been conducted on this particular topic.
A study done by Queensland University focused on the relationship between sleep and sexual climax. It showed that more than 60 percent of the individuals that had their sexual climax before bed had better sleep quality.
How to Sleep Better and Have More Sex
For those of you who are stuck in a routine with bad sleep and no sex, some things can help you break that routine.
To make sure your body is ready for sex, it would be best to follow the guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation. According to these guidelines you need to sleep at least seven to eight hours per night. Depending on your sleep habits you can plan on sleeping for more than eight hours each night, just be careful not to overdo and make sure you go along with your circadian rhythm. If you do not feel rested when you wake up, you probably need more sleep. If you are not feeling rested, you might not be able or have the will to have sex.
Keeping good sleep hygiene is vital for both your sleep and sex life. Maintaining good sleep hygiene involves following a sleep routine that will provide structure to your rest. Having good sleep hygiene is an excellent way to treat any sleep-related problem. The best way to fix your sleep and sex problems is to have a comfortable bedroom environment that is reserved just for snoozing and sex. And nothing can impose on that environment. To do that, you need to put away any electronic devices you might have. Any mobile phone, tablet, laptop, iPad and other similar devices need to be far away from your bed. Along with that, watching TV or doing work in bed are activities that you really need to avoid in order to prevent your brain from creating associations to these things instead of rest. The idea is to reserve your bed just for slumber and nothing else, and electronic devices are known for inhibiting sleep and intimacy. And don’t forget to keep the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
You also need to limit the consumption of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, or other stimulants during the night. Additionally, you might want to consider getting some exercise. At least thirty minutes of exercise during the day can help you fall asleep naturally.
As you have seen throughout the article, sexual health and sleep quality are linked together. Sex or simply orgasms help you snooze better at night, and a good night of rest improves your sex life. Having an active sex life will not impose on your sleep, but getting an adequate amount of sleep is necessary for your body to be able to have sex. Enough rest will make sure you have the needed stamina and energy for sex, and it will also allow the proper hormone regulation for both your daily activities and your sex life.
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Iva is an art historian and an art lover who always had a passion for writing and sleep! When she is not researching and testing new mattresses on the market, you can find her binge-watching TV shows, eating tons of junk food or playing with her dog Bart.