Whether you sleep like a log or you barely get a wink of sleep each night, we’re all looking for ways to sleep better. From breathing hacks (opens in new tab) to white noise (opens in new tab) and beyond, people go to drastic lengths to ensure they get a good night’s sleep, but the answer could be far simpler (and sexier) than you might think.
Research has found that the relationship between sleep and sex plays a major role in your health and wellness. That’s right, being intimate with your partner or with yourself while using the best sex toys (opens in new tab) can actually make you sleep better, feel happier and improve your mental health.
To find out more, I spoke to Phil Lawlor, sleep expert from Dormeo (opens in new tab) about how sex improves your sleep quality and general wellbeing. Before we get into it, make sure you get the best night’s sleep every night by investing in the best mattress (opens in new tab).
What’s the relationship between sleep & sex?
According to Lawlor, recent research has shown that the relationship between sleep and sex is bidirectional. For example, “quality sleep can promote better sex and a healthy sex life can facilitate improved sleep.” To make things even simpler, better sex leads to better sleep, and vice versa.
However, this bidirectional relationship can be both positive and negative, so if you’re not sleeping well at night, this will affect your sexual connection and activities with your partner. If your sleep is suffering or you’re not being as intimate with your partner as you’d like to be, this can result in sleep deprivation effects (opens in new tab), heightened anxiety and depression, low libido and tension in your relationship.
Lawlor explains that this is because “poor sleep can exacerbate mental health problems which increases levels of cortisol (your body’s main stress hormone) which reduces sex drive. It can also lead to emotional and relationship problems that can hinder your sexual health, for example, a lack of sleep can make conflict with your partner more likely.”
Lack of sleep also decreases your levels of testosterone, increases the risk of sleep disorders and sexual dysfunctions (opens in new tab) and it can increase “risky sexual behaviour that can lead to infections or unplanned pregnancies.”
How sex improves your sleep quality
Now that we’ve spoken about the connection between sex and sleep, let’s take a look at how sex improves your sleep quality. The main way sex does this is through hormone production. “After sex, a wave of hormones floods your brain, including progesterone, norepinephrine and dopamine (the pleasure hormone). These hormones promote an overall relaxed feeling, which lulls you into a dozy state, perfect for sleep.”
Another hormone which has an effect on your drowsiness and feelings of relief and pleasure is oxytocin aka the love hormone. According to Healthline (opens in new tab), the release of oxytocin occurs in conjunction with affection and sensual touch, leading to pleasant feelings and a release of stress. In addition to this, Lawlor states that “orgasms trigger a burst of oxytocin which counters the level of cortisol in your body, creating the tranquil feeling needed for sleep.”
To break things down further, men and women will both get surges of different hormones which result in fatigue and calm. Specifically for women, “sex triggers a spike in estrogen which has been linked to improved quality of REM sleep (the stage of deep sleep linked to memory and learning).” Finally, sex with your partner can help with intimacy and “enhance feelings of closeness that are conducive to sleep.”
So, you better start getting it on if you want to catch some serious ZZZ’s! If you’re looking to spice things up in the bedroom, check out our top picks for the best sex toys for couples (opens in new tab) or treat yourself to the best Lovehoney deals (opens in new tab).