Americans are doing “it” less often than they did in previous generations – even with the help of essential oils. Are you one of the many Americans (about one-third) struggling to fall asleep at night? You keep tossing and turning until your spouse suggests a little roll in the hay to help you doze off. You do it, and it actually works! You both fall asleep within minutes, and you sleep more soundly than ever. You might wonder if there’s a real reason behind what just happened. Can sex make you fall asleep faster and provide a deeper, more restful snooze? In this article, we’ll unpack the science of why sex may actually be sleep’s best friend (with benefits).
What Happens During Sex That May Support Sleep?
As if sex isn’t great enough on its own, it turns out that it actually does help you fall asleep. Sex triggers the release of some hormones that may directly contribute to better sleep. For example, having sex releases hormones like Oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, and Prolactin, a hormone produced by the pituitary gland, both of which help relax the body and allow you to fall asleep more easily. During sex, endorphins are also released, which give your body a pain-killing effect that also helps soothe you before sleep. Additionally, sex lowers the production of the stress hormone cortisol and provides an immediate reduction in tension and anxiety.
In general, your body releases the following hormones and substances during or after sex that may support sleep, including:
- Oxytocin (the cuddle hormone)
- Dopamine (the pleasure hormone)
- Endorphins (another pleasure hormone)
- Serotonin (the happy chemical)
- Prolactin (the post-orgasm hormone that lets you doze off easily)
Overall, sex triggers hormones that make you feel bonded, safe, calm, rewarded, and happy. Because your blood pressure is also lower after sex, you can expect to feel relaxed, warm, and pain-free, which can all help you feel sleepier than you would without having sex.
Even if you don’t reach orgasm, sex itself can distract you from the stress of everyday life. When you’re thinking about you, your partner, or how your body feels, you aren’t thinking of work, bills, or other minutiae.
No Partner, No Problem
We recognize that sex with a partner isn’t always an option, but this shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a healthy sex life. For many people, self-love can create the same positive benefits as sex, including better sleep, lower stress levels, and an improved body image. This is especially true when you are able to reach climax.
Benefits to Women
If you’re a woman, there’s an added bonus that comes with the climax. Production of the hormone estrogen increases and allows your body to fall into a deeper sleep during your sleep cycles. Sex not only helps with your sleep life, it also boosts your immunity, gives your metabolism a nudge, and regulates your menstrual cycle. If that’s not enough good news, research shows that having sex just two times a week can reduce your risk of a heart attack. “Sexual healing” is not a myth; science proves it’s the real deal.
Is Sex Before Sleep a Good Thing?
We know sex or self-love makes you feel better, but can it really affect the quality of your sleep? In a study conducted by CQ University in Australia, Dr. Michele Lastella and his colleagues found that 64 percent of adults surveyed felt that sex resulting in an orgasm helped them sleep better.
Good Sex Life = Good Sleep (and Vice Versa)
Because of the effects that sex has on your body, it is very likely that a healthy sex life can contribute to better sleep. Alternatively, bad sleep can also negatively affect your sex life. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can lower your testosterone levels and cause dysregulation of many of the hormones involved in sex. This imbalance can decrease your sex drive and counteract the positive and rewarding feelings you usually feel after sex.
Furthermore, sometimes certain sexual behaviors can even happen during sex. These behaviors are often described as “sleepsex” or even “sexsomnia” and are thought to be related to sleep disorders known as “parasomnias” which involve unusual physical experiences that disrupt sleep. Although they’re incredibly rare, sleep scientist note that these acts of “sexsomnia” typically include any number of behaviors during sleep. Remember, sexsomnia is considered a sleep disorder, so if these behaviors happen during sleep then you should consult with a medical professional.
Sex and Sleep – A Reciprocal Relationship
Sex and sleep share an undeniable, two-way relationship. Having more sex can help you get better sleep, and getting better sleep can boost your sexual vitality. The only way to determine how sex affects your own sleep is to get your recommended hours of sleep in and schedule some quality time with yourself or with your partner at least once per week.
SleepScore Labs Solutions
A great way to evaluate whether you personally sleep better or worse after sex might be to track your sleep with a science-backed sleep tracking app like the free SleepScore App. You can download the free SleepScore App for insights and articles on how well you sleep, the quality and quantity of your sleep cycles, and sleep improvement progress with science-backed tips and insights. Download it for free from App Store and Google Play Store!
You can also visit the SleepScore Store for a wide range of sleep-promoting products carefully curated by SleepScore Labs’ team of researchers to support your sleep-wake schedule!