This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation
An under-the-covers look at whether getting turned on turns off your ability to fall asleep
There are two things that your bedroom is designed for: having sex and sleeping. But that begs the question: How can having sex (an act that is, at its core, meant to be arousing) get you ready for serious shut-eye? It turns out that the two actions go hand in hand. More sex helps you sleep, and more sleep boosts your sex drive.
Yes, sex can actually make it easier to fall asleep. This is mostly because of the hormones that are released during the act. Sex boosts oxytocin (a hormone that makes you feel connected to your partner) and lowers cortisol (a stress-related hormone). Plus, having an orgasm releases a hormone called prolactin, which makes you feel relaxed and sleepy. All of that leads up to a nice, drowsy state that's perfect for cuddling up and falling asleep.
There’s an added bonus for women, which is that sex boosts estrogen levels, enhancing your REM stage and giving you deeper slumber. Don’t feel left out, men. You sleep deeply after intercourse, too. In fact, there’s even a French term for how quickly men fall asleep after orgasm: le petit mort.
On the flip side, your sleep habits could be helping or hurting your sex life. If you or your partner aren’t sleeping well, whether due to stress, one person keeping the other up with tossing and turning, or a condition like sleep apnea, your sex drive is going to go way down.
If a lack of sleep is hurting your sex life, the answer might lie in having more sex! That’s because sexual satisfaction is a great stress reliever, as well as a way to feel more intimate with your partner—and when you feel less frazzled and happier in your relationship, those feelings will contribute to better sleep (and the cycle goes on and on!). Instead of lying in bed, worrying about why you can’t fall asleep, turn to your partner and initiate sex.