How to stop tiredness from blocking you in the bedroom.
“I’m too tired”. It’s an excuse many of us have made, but one that can be especially frustrating to a partner when it comes to sex. Sleep expert and Emma ambassador Elina Winnel explains that wanting sleep over sex is a legitimate excuse. Elina shares some of the science behind why couples may be struggling to sync up their special time within the sheets and her top tips for perking things up in the bedroom.
How does tiredness affect our sex drive?
Our bodies are programmed for survival.Without adequate sleep, we are sending a signal to our bodies that we are in danger. Not prioritising sleep when in a relationship can have a detrimental effect on things in the bedroom.
Independent research from Emma found that over two-thirds of Australians regularly share a bed with a partner, with more than half sharing a bed every single night. When we are overtired, our stress hormones increase, including cortisol. Cortisol suppresses testosterone – the primary libido-boosting hormone in women and men. So, survival trumps sex.
In addition to this, when we are sleep deprived we are more irritable and have less energy. Grumpiness and fatigue are hardly a recipe for quality intimacy.
Is it true that men have a higher sex drive in the morning?
Being too tired is a legitimate excuse for guys, too. Sleep deprivation reduces testosterone levels and can contribute to erectile dysfunction. Longer sleep boosts testosterone levels which directly boosts libido. This busts the myth of being tougher if you can manage on less sleep. It is quite literally the opposite. But even if your man is getting adequate sleep, are you out of sync with him?
Men’s testosterone levels steadily rise overnight, peaking in the morning. This is why men can often wake up with an erection in the morning.
Whilst men’s testosterone levels decrease as the day goes on, women’s sex hormones gradually rise. This can mean that there can be a mismatch in the times that men and women want sex.
When do women’s sex drives peak?
Women’s testosterone production is different to men’s. It only increases slightly overnight. The most noticeable difference for women occurs around the time of ovulation, when testosterone levels increase significantly. Testosterone not only increases our libido, but also our likelihood of orgasming.
However, it isn’t just our testosterone levels that affects our libido. Our mood and feeling of connectedness are significant determinants of our sex drive. This may mean that we are often more likely to desire physical intimacy with our partners in the evenings, after some connection time.
Why sleep is so important to great sex
Here are the reasons why 7-9 hours of quality sleep is the secret to great sex:
It brings our autonomic nervous system into balance, which means we are more likely to orgasm when we have sex
It boosts our confidence, especially around our appearance, which is a key factor in women wanting sex
It increases our creativity, allowing more innovation in the bedroom
It raises our energy levels which means you can go for longer
It reduces stress hormone levels in our body which allows us to be less in our heads and more present in our bodies – a key factor in both desire for sex and our ability to orgasm
We are happier and more relaxed, facilitating deeper connection
In essence, the more sleep couples get, the more positive they feel towards each other the next day.
Women report needing more sleep than their partners as well. Some sleep scientists believe that women need on average 20 minutes extra sleep a day than men. It may be due to the complex nature of women’s reproductive and hormonal cycles, or extra recuperation time needed for the brain, due to the multi-tasking that women do, using more areas of the brain.
Many of my clients dread that sexy nudge in the morning, if they haven’t had adequate sleep. If that nudge wakes them up from much needed sleep, this possible sexy time may turn into resentment time. One way around this is to go to bed earlier than your partner.
How to sleep better with your partner
Emma’s research found that men sleep better with a partner in the bed compared to women. However, two of the most common struggles women have in sleeping with their partner are the disturbance of their partner’s tossing and turning, and the difference in temperature preferences.
An easy, quick and essential win is to get yourself a zero disturbance mattress. This minimises disruption from your partner's movements, ensuring they don’t wake you up. My top pick is the Emma Diamond Hybrid mattress because of it’s cooling technology. Men overheat more than women. This mattress allows our men to stay cool, whilst also enabling us ladies to keep the cosy doonas we want on our beds.
Any other advice for couples?
Communicate with your partner. Let them know that if they allow you to get the quality and quantity of sleep you need, you will be more likely to want to connect with them physically, and more likely to initiate as well!
I also find that many people wake up to an alarm, even if they don’t need to. It can often just be an unquestioned habit. Consider prioritising a sleep-in at least once a week, so you get the sleep you need for a great horizontal dance.
You can also have sex to improve your sleep. Oxytocin, often known as the ‘love hormone’ or ‘cuddle hormone’, is released when we have sex. This has a positive effect on both sleep and how we dream. Furthermore, orgasm triggers the release of prolactin and vasopressin. Vasopressin counteracts the stress hormone, cortisol, improving the quality of our sleep. It is also an antidiuretic, so we are less likely to need to go to the bathroom at night. Prolactin secretion is believed to be the reason why many men feel so sleepy after sex.
Whether you’re a guy or a girl; the better you sleep, the more you’ll want to be intimate with your partner. So try to get more zzz’s, so you can have better sexy time between the sheets!