Sleep is essential for overall good health and, in turn, sexual health. It helps the body recuperate from the day and gets ready for the next.
In contrast, sleep deprivation can lead to poorer health, raising a person’s risk for serious health conditions like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
All of these conditions are associated with sexual problems, as the following links explain:
Sleep deprivation also affects the immune system, weakening the body’s ability to fight infections.
Researchers have explored the role of sleep in specific aspects of sexual function, too.
Sleep and Men’s Sexual Function
- Testosterone. Much of a man’s testosterone is produced while he’s sleeping. This hormone plays a large role in his sexual function, from fueling his sex drive to forming erections. When men don’t get enough sleep, their testosterone levels fall, and that could lead to sexual problems. (Learn more here.)
- Judgment. Sleep deprivation has been linked to poor sexual judgment in men. In a study of college students, sleep-deprived men were more likely to think a woman had sexual intentions than well-rested men. (The reverse was not true; sleep-deprived women did not misjudge men’s sexual interest.)
Sleep and Women’s Sexual Function
- Desire and arousal. Research suggests that women with partners feel more sexual desire the day after a good night’s sleep. Those who slept longer felt more aroused and were more likely to have sex the next day.
- Satisfaction. A study of postmenopausal women found that those with severe insomnia and those who slept less than seven hours each night were less likely to feel sexually satisfied.
Sleep problems and disorders often cause people to use separate beds or rooms. When this happens, intimate relationships may start to decline, as most people initiate sexual activity in bed before falling asleep.
Couples in this situation may need to discuss some solutions so they can keep their sexual relationship strong. For example, they may choose to have sex at an earlier time or plan a “date” in one of the sleeping rooms.
Getting Enough Sleep
Sometimes, getting enough sleep is easier said than done. Adopting healthy sleep hygiene habits, like having a relaxing sleep routine and cutting the use of electronics at bedtime, may help. Seeing a doctor for sleep problems is another option. Sometimes, issues like obstructive sleep apnea interfere with proper rest.
International Society for Sexual Medicine
“Can obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) lead to erectile dysfunction (ED)? Can treatment help?”
National Institutes of Health – National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
“Why is Sleep Important?”
Sexual Medicine Society of North America
“Quality of Sleep Can Have Major Impact on Men’s Sexual Health”
(December 4, 2014)
“Sleep and Women’s Sexual Health”
(July 14, 2015)
“Sleep Deprivation & Sexual Judgment”
“Sleep Important for Older Women’s Sexual Health”
“Sleep Problems and ED”
(June 14, 2011)
“Testosterone and Sleep”