Three people sleeping after a romantic night
Illustration by Marta Pucci

‍Sex and Sleep: How Does Sleep Impact Your Libido?

Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Katherine Hertlein,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
Last updated:
Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Laura Vowels,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
Last updated:

No matter your age, both sex and sleep are important components to your physical health and emotional well-being. Having a good relationship with both, increases your overall satisfaction with life.

What is often overlooked by couples is the relationship between sex and sleep. What experts are now learning is that quality sleep is important for the development and maintenance of a healthy sex life. Equally, if you improve your sex life, you will likely sleep better.

So in the hustle and bustle of work, social obligations, raising children, housework, housework, and exercise, how do you manage to get the sleep you need to have a positive impact on your sex life?  Let's take a look at how the combination of lack of sleep and your sexual desire work together and what you can do to improve this area of your life.

What is quality sleep?

The fact is, we all probably think we could use more sleep. It’s hard to effectively go through daily functions and have energy left for relationships if we are stretching ourselves too thin. To effectively recharge your body, the average adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

You also need to think about the quality of sleep you are getting. When you are able to sleep continuously without interruption your body will cycle through various degrees of sleep. Each cycle lasts about 90 minutes. The more they’re interrupted by noises, needing the bathroom, someone snoring or tossing and turning, the less quality sleep you’re having. 

Sleep cycles are important because it is during these periods that your body and brain are able to recuperate from your day's activities. If you have a tendency to wake frequently due to sleep apnea or insomnia, you may not receive enough deep sleep and REM sleep, resulting in you feeling fatigued during the day.

Lack of sleep and sex drive

In women, lack of sleep is one of the causes of a reduction in sexual desire and arousal. One of the most common sleep disorders is insomnia, which may be a leading risk factor for sexual dysfunction. For men, this can lead to a higher risk of erectile dysfunction.

Obstructive sleep apnea and sex drive impact include men having a higher level of erectile dysfunction. Those who work non-standard shifts experience a higher incidence of poor sleep, resulting in erectile dysfunction due to the person’s circadian rhythm being out of sync.

When you lack quality sleep on a regular basis, it will affect your overall mental health. Lack of sleep also increases anxiety and depression. This is often found in men and women with sexual dysfunction.

In addition, if you lack sleep you have a higher tendency to experience conflicts with your partner. Conflicts between couples increase stress and reduce intimacy.

Sex and sleep benefits

If you have tried soothing music, a white noise machine, wearing a sleep mask, and using black-out window coverings all to no avail, you are not alone. Now it is time to give sex a try.

A study by CQ University in Australia found that out of 460 adults between 18-70 years of age, 64% said that sex resulting in orgasm helps them to sleep better. Of those same adults, 50% said masturbating also helps them doze off. 

After orgasm, the body releases hormones and induces feelings of relaxation, contentment, and reduces stress. In addition to that, sex decreases your levels of cortisol, which is a hormone that relates to stress.

The changes in your body's hormones result in you feeling drowsy, making it easier to fall asleep. If you don’t have a partner handy, you can still achieve this satisfying result through masturbation. A 2019 study of 778 adults found a link between masturbation and reducing the time it takes to fall asleep as well as improving the quality of sleep they get.

Improve sex and sleep

If you have a medical problem, such as sleep apnea or some other sleep disorder, seeking assistance from a medical professional can improve your quality of sleep. With better sleep, your sex life may improve, such as reducing your erectile dysfunction.

Sleep hygiene is another area that deals with your environment and before-bed habits that influence your ability to sleep. This includes:

  • Bedroom at a comfortable temperature for sleeping with dim lighting and pleasant smell
  • A mattress that is supportive and optimal for sexual activity
  • Maintain a consistent schedule for going to bed and arising in the morning
  • Do not partake in caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, or heavy meals that may interfere with sleep
  • Do not take long naps in the afternoon or evening
  • Make the bedroom technology-free—no tablets, phones, or laptops at least 30 minutes before bed
  • Participate in physical activity every day
  • Incorporate relaxation techniques into your before-bed routine, like yoga, stretching or a bath

By incorporating the above into your daily routine you will improve your sleep quality, leaving you more energized and interested in sexual activity.

How much sex is normal?

Improving your sex life after it has been on the back burner for a period of time may require a bit more time and assistance. You may be wondering how much sex is normal?

The truth is, there is no “normal.” What is satisfying to one couple can be way too much for another couple, and nowhere near enough for a third couple.

The important thing is to obtain a level of sexual activity that is comfortable for you and your partner. Whatever is right for the two of you to feel happy and satisfied is what is “normal” for your relationship. That number may increase, decrease, and increase again as you go through changes in your life.

You may experience a decrease during the period in which you have small, time-demanding children. After they grow and move out you become a couple again and may find yourselves more sexually active than you were when younger. As you become a senior citizen you may again decrease the amount of sex you have.

Health benefits of sex

Just like sleep impacts your ability to enjoy the benefits of sex, sex impacts other areas of your health. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians frequent sex causes an increase in the antibodies circulating in your bloodstream. These antibodies help your body fight off infection, so you are more likely to stay healthy.

Sex is also a natural pain reliever. The endorphins your body releases during sex are actually pain-relieving hormones. By having sex before dozing off, you may sleep better because you will not have the same level of pain that normally keeps you awake at night.

Sex is also good for your heart. In the same way other exercise helps, sex raises your heart rate and strengthens the heart muscle. The stress hormone, cortisol, lowers during sex, protecting the heart from the stress that can lead to heart disease.

Digital sex therapy to improve libido

Trying to break away from the effects that lack of sex and sleep have on a relationship may require some outside assistance. That is where Blueheart can help.

We are a digital sex therapy app for couples who are experiencing libido issues. We will work with you and your partner during a series of sessions that are designed by a team of therapists who specialize in sex and relationship problems. This is a gradual process in which we assist you in becoming comfortable with yourself, your body, and your own thoughts and feelings

We will support your communication with your partner. Eventually, we will guide you through touch activities with each other to help increase your intimacy and reduce anxiety. This will help you to re-establish the feelings of closeness and intimacy you originally felt as a couple through the experience of touch.

Get started using Blueheart today by downloading our app and bring your sex life to the next level of intimacy and pleasure.

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