One of the most essential aspects of adult health is sex and sexuality. Sexual health is more than just physical well-being; it encompasses a person’s emotional, social, and spiritual well-being as well.
The benefits of a good night’s sleep can be felt far and wide. One of the most important pillars of health, it affects practically every bodily process and system.
As important as both sleep and sexuality are to one’s well-being, they are often disregarded in connection to one another. The good news is that new research in the health sciences is beginning to show that sex and sleep are linked in a significant and bidirectional way.
Even though more research is needed, it appears that better sleep and a healthier sex life go hand in hand, and that healthy sex life can help with better sleep.
There are many ways to improve the health of adults by recognizing the links between sleep, sex, and overall well-being.
Stages of Sexual Response Cycle
No matter what kind of genitalia a person has, sexual function is a complicated physical process. All three of these systems play important roles in sex: your neurological, circulatory, and endocrine systems. There are also psychological aspects to sexual activity, such as ideas and feelings.
The four stages of sex are as follows:
- Urge, often known as libido, refers to a person’s desire to have sex. Sensory responses to odors, sights, or tactile messages are commonly the triggers for desire. Desire can be sparked by words and thoughts, too. Sexual arousal occurs when the desire for sex increases.
- When one is sexually aroused, it is a bodily reaction to that desire. Sending messages to the genitals to boost blood flow is done by the brain. An increase in blood flow to the erectile tissue causes the arteries that supply it to enlarge and increase their pressure. Vaginal secretions are produced as a result of blood flowing into the clitoris. There is a gradual increase in the intensity of these processes, and they eventually level off.
- One of the most exciting and pleasurable stages of sex is known as a climax, often known as orgasm. Before an orgasm, people’s muscles tense up all over. People who have strong vaginal muscles may feel these muscles spasm and have several orgasms during sexual encounters. Ejaculation is the most common kind of orgasm in humans with penises.
- Blood flow to the genitals diminishes and sensations of arousal fade during this phase. After a while, the body returns to its normal, unaffected condition.
What Happens During Sex That May Support Sleep?
To top it all off, it appears that sex can assist with sleep deprivation. Hormones released as a result of sexual stimulation have been shown to improve sleep quality. When you’re enjoying a sexual experience, your body produces hormones like Oxytocin, a feel-good hormone, and Prolactin, a sleep-inducing hormone made by your pituitary gland. Pain-killing endorphins released as a result of sexual activity might also help you wind down before bedtime. Sex also reduces stress hormone production, such as cortisol, and relieves tension and anxiety right away.
When you have sex, your body releases a variety of hormones and chemicals that may help you go asleep, including:
- The hormone oxytocin (the cuddle hormone)
- Anxiety-inducing chemical Dopamine (the pleasure hormone)
- Endorphins are the brain’s natural painkillers (another pleasure hormone)
- Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (the happy chemical)
- a hormone called prolactin (the post-orgasm hormone that lets you doze off easily)
Sex releases hormones that elicit feelings of closeness, security, serenity, and contentment. Relaxed, comfortable and pain-free are just some of the benefits of having sex that might help you sleep better than you would otherwise.
Sex, even if it doesn’t bring you to orgasm, can be a great way to deal with the stresses of daily life. Think about yourself and how your body is feeling when you’re not thinking about work or finances.
Elements of Healthy Sleep and Sex
Mental and physical processes are intertwined in both the act of sleeping and the act of sexual desire. It is possible to have a better knowledge of the connection between healthy sleep and sexual activity by going through the fundamentals.
Recuperation is impossible without adequate sleep, which for most individuals translates to seven to nine hours per night.
Quality of sleep is equally important. Individual sleep stages make up each of the many sleep cycles that make up a typical night’s sleep. These stages can only be adequately unfolded through uninterrupted sleep, which is essential for restorative sleep.
Gender- and sex-based distinctions in how sleep works can affect the ability to sleep effectively, even though sleep has many of the same basic properties in both sexes.
Sex, like sleep, consists of a variety of components. Both sexes experience the following four stages of healthy sexual function:
- Motivation for sex, often known as libido, or desire for sex
- Involvement in physical reactions, such as blood flow to the penis or clitoris, which is arousal.
- Orgasm, the point at when excitement is at its peak. During orgasm, ejaculation, a subsequent stage in this process, is common.
- Relaxation and good sentiments following orgasm and a gradual transition to a non-excited state are part of the process of resolution.
Sexual dysfunction can occur if one or more phases of this process are interrupted.
Anyone can be affected by sexual issues, but the underlying causes and symptoms tend to be different between men and women. Studies estimate that approximately 33% of men and 45% of women had at least minor sexual problems in the previous year, while approximately 13% of men and 17% of women had more serious disorders that caused them anguish.
For example, sexual dysfunction might manifest as a lack of interest in sex, an inability to be excited or to have an orgasm, as well as sexual experiences that are unpleasant or unappealing. It is common for sexual health difficulties to be linked to mental, emotional, or relational disorders that disrupt regular sexual activity.
How Does Sleep Affect Sex?
Several studies have indicated that sleep affects sex in a variety of ways.
Having a lack of sleep has been linked to a decrease in sexual desire and arousal among women. Thus, insomnia, a frequent sleep condition, may be linked to sexual dysfunction. Sleep deprivation and sleep disturbances have been associated to an increased risk of erectile dysfunction.
Women’s sexual desire was observed to be heightened the day after short-term sleep deprivation, which may be linked to changes in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. However, this lack of sleep was not observed to enhance the likelihood of having sex, which may represent how sleepiness and exhaustion can interfere with sex.
Sex issues have been linked to a number of sleep disorders. Patients with OSA, a sleep disorder marked by frequent breathing stops and starts, have an increased chance of developing impotence. A number of studies have also linked OSA to female infertility.
In addition, shift employment has been associated to an increased risk of erectile dysfunction. Shift work can disrupt a person’s circadian cycle, causing a variety of body functions to malfunction. Shift workers who have trouble sleeping are more likely to have sexual issues, according to research.
Sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on one’s mental health, which in turn can affect one’s ability to have sex. Depression and anxiety can be made worse by sleep deprivation and fragmentation. Because of their impact on sexual desire and arousal, these illnesses are frequently linked to female and male sexual dysfunction.
In addition to affecting one’s mental well-being, sleep deprivation can cause emotional and interpersonal difficulties, which in turn can impair one’s sexual health. Sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in partner conflict, as well as an emotional state that makes intimacy difficult and diminishes sexual satisfaction.
Impaired judgment and impulse control are two further ways that sleep deprivation can harm one’s sexual health. Sexually dangerous behaviors, such as those that lead to STDs or unwanted pregnancies, might occur as a result of sleep deprivation.
How Does Sex Affect Sleep?
Having sex can often improve one’s quality of sleep. Oxytocin and prolactin, two chemicals released by the body during an orgasm, can have a calming effect. Cortisol, a stress hormone, is also reduced by sexual activity.
According to recent research, tiredness and an easier time falling asleep can be caused by hormonal changes that occur after menopause. Both masturbation and sex are capable of causing this reaction. More than half of both men and women agree that having a good night’s sleep is made easier by the orgasms of masturbation.
These emotions of closeness and intimacy, which are beneficial to sleep, may be heightened by intercourse with another person. Men are more likely than women to have this impact after having sex, according to the research, which is in line with the common belief that men are more likely to fall asleep as a result of having sex.
When both partners experience orgasm during sex, the disparity in tiredness disappears. When it comes to heterosexual relationships, tiredness and sex may be linked since males in heterosexual relationships are more likely to experience a lack of satisfaction and orgasm from their partners.
Is Sex Before Sleep a Good Thing?
It is well known that sex or self-love improves your mood, but may it have an impact on your sleep? Dr. Michele Lastella and his colleagues at CQ University in Australia conducted a study in which they discovered that 64% of the adults polled believed that having an orgasm before bedtime helped them sleep better.
Good Sex Life = Good Sleep (and Vice Versa)
Having a healthy sex life is likely to improve your quality of sleep because of the physiological benefits of sex. Sleep deprivation can have a detrimental impact on your sex life, as well. Sleep deprivation has been proven to reduce testosterone levels and disrupt the balance of various sex hormones. This imbalance might reduce your sex drive and negate the pleasurable and gratifying feelings that you generally have after sex because of the imbalance.
In addition, certain sexual behaviors might occur even during a sex session. “Sleepsex” and “sexsomnia” are common terms for these behaviors, which are thought to be linked to sleep disorders known as “parasomnias,” which disrupt sleep through strange bodily experiences. A sleep scientist has noted that these “sexsomnia” acts generally encompass a wide range of sleep-related activities. Make sure to get medical attention for any of these actions that occur during sleep, as sexsomnia is a sleep condition.
Steps to Enhance Both Sleep and Sex
Your whole health and well-being can benefit from the link between sleep and sex.
A doctor’s appointment is often the first step to a better night’s sleep for many people. There are effective therapies for underlying sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, that can lead to sleep issues and daytime sleepiness. Sleep and sex can both benefit from the diagnosis and treatment of these problems. Men with erectile dysfunction can benefit from treatment for sleep apnea, for example.
In order to get the best possible rest, shift workers can consult with a doctor about their schedules. For those who suffer from insomnia, many methods of treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), may be of assistance. When sleep is disrupted by a medical problem, it’s best to see a doctor to get it fixed.
In addition to a good night’s rest, good sleep hygiene is also a necessity. It takes into account both the physical surroundings in which people sleep as well as their regular routines. To improve your sleep hygiene, try these specific suggestions:
- Comfortable temperatures, dim lighting, and a pleasant smell are all ways to create an enticing atmosphere in the bedroom. A good mattress, on the other hand, is essential for sex.
- Using blackout curtains, a sleep mask, a white noise machine, and headphones or earplugs to block out light and sounds that can disturb your sleep.
- Maintaining a constant sleep schedule, even on non-workdays. Getting up and going to bed at the same time each day is ideal.
- Avoiding items like alcohol, smoke, caffeine, late, big meals, and afternoon naps that can keep you up at night.
- Prior to going to bed, make the bedroom a technology-free zone. At least 30 minutes before night, put away your cell phone, laptop, or tablet and go to sleep.
- Physical activity and exposure to natural light should be incorporated into one’s daily routine.
- Making sleep preparation easier by learning relaxation techniques and putting them into your evening routine.
Better sleep hygiene is one way to ensure you are getting the adequate amount of shut-eye each night. As a result, a more fulfilling sexual experience is possible.
Improving Sexual Health
Increasing your overall well-being and quality of sleep may be facilitated by greater sexual health, including regular, fulfilling sex.
As with sleep issues, it’s crucial to see a doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your sexual health. Even though many people are reluctant to discuss these topics freely and honestly, it is good to do so with a healthcare physician. Recall that doctors are educated to assist in the treatment of sexual disorders since they are common. If you have questions or concerns, there are a variety of methods to begin the conversation.
Sex and sexuality can have a significant impact on one’s overall health and well-being. It is possible to improve sexual health by addressing concerns related to sexual performance or satisfaction, evaluating safe sex practices, testing for sexually transmitted illnesses, and ensuring that sexual relationships are healthy and happy.
Intimacy and sexual fulfillment can be improved with sex therapy for certain couples. Working with a sex expert can help you adopt evidence-based ways to improving your sex life, even if you already know what to do.