What Comes First: Good Sleep or Good Sex? We Ask Science, Obviously

We know that sleep is good for you and sex is well, gooood for you – but do you need both for a happy time in between the sheets? We investigate. Not like that.

Is good sex the secret to a restful snooze, or is catching zzz’s necessary for the big O?

While being too tired for sex might sound like a stock standard excuse to get out of intimacy, and you might be annoyed hearing your partner snoring just MINUTES after doing the deed, in reality both sleep and sex are related to another s-word: stress.

Yup, stress is even ruining your bumpy cuddles.

Getting it on can help you with drifting off by relieving stress, while missing out on vital rest is a sure-fire way to find yourself in a sexual rut.

Theresa Schnorbach, Sleep Scientist at Emma – The Sleep Company, tells Capsule that your lifestyle and your your sleep life might be affecting your sex life (or vice versa).

“Stress and anxiety are two of the top modern-day factors contributing to poor sleep, they raise alertness and keep our brains ticking while we’re trying to fall asleep,” she says.

Lack of sleep can increase cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and suppress testosterone, an important hormone for boosting libido in men and women. Sleep deprivation can also lower your sex drive and even lead to erectile dysfunction in men.

On the flip side, higher testosterone levels can increase the likelihood of orgasm and better sleep, as well as boosting your mood and increasing confidence – two factors which play a key role in libido. Thus, getting proper sleep can not only lead to more sex, but better sex as well.

Good sex can also lead to better sleep too. “Sex can help to shift our mindset and promote relaxation, enabling us to have a restful slumber,” Theresa explains, adding that sex involves the release of the hormone oxytocin, which both helps us bond to our partner emotionally and mentally as well as working as a stress regulator.

So next time you feel like you can’t sleep, a good orgasm definitely can’t hurt. One study [1] found most participants that had an orgasm before sleeping (either alone or with a partner) felt an increase in sleep quality.

If you’re looking to spice up your sex life by getting a better snooze, here are Theresa’s top tips for sleeping well (besides climaxing before bed but you know, you do you boo).

  1. Control the temperature: Regulate your body temperature by wearing appropriate clothing to bed – materials like silk and bamboo are great options all year-round. Thermoregulating mattresses and pillows can also help to keep your body at the optimal temperature for rest. 
  2. Avoid sleeping directly after eating or drinking alcohol: Both indulgent eating and alcohol consumption can affect your body’s ability to get into a restful state as your digestive system is still hard at work, give it 2-3 hours after food or alcohol before hitting the hay.
  3. Keep a bedtime routine: Our bodies thrive on rhythms and our sleep cycles work best when we stick to routine.
  4. Manage stress: Yup we know that’s easier said than done, but this is where sex comes in! Of course there’s other ways of managing stress like meditation, and exercising during the daytime can also aid a better night’s sleep.
  5. Invest in a good-quality mattress. A mattress backed by science is imperative for sleeping well and waking up rejuvenated. Make sure it has pressure relieving foam and is motion isolating so you don’t disturb your partner when you both eventually nod off.

So, science says we have no excuse not to prioritise sleep AND sex – though we know which one we’d rather be doing.

[1] 2 Sex and Sleep: Perceptions of Sex as a Sleep Promoting Behavior in the General Adult Population https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6409294/  

THE ONE THING… ‘I’ll Do Differently In My Second Marriage’

What’s the best marriage advice you've received? For these Capsule readers, the biggest learnings they'll be taking into their marriage, is actually something they've...

Suffer from Cold Sores? First, You’re FAR From the Only One & Second, You NEED To Read This

We need to get over ourselves a little bit when it comes to cold sores – 80% of us carry the virus that causes...

The Divorce Diaries: ‘He Cheated On Me… With Our Son’s Teacher’

Stephanie had been with her husband for 12 years when he asked for a divorce - she couldn't make sense of it until she...

‘My Age Is A Superpower’: How A Career Pivot Took A Woman From Marketing To Clinical Psychology In Mid-Life

Welcome to our Career Pivot Series! Whatever your situation, we hope this series will be somewhere that can provide some inspiration for a career...