I’m restless, thrashing around in the sheets, waking up to re-adjust and nudging my partner in the process. It can only mean one thing—I fell into a sexless slumber.
I don’t live with my partner but we do sleep in the same bed approximately four to five days out of the week. At first, I blamed it on the stuffiness of the radiators, my queen size bed, or constant need to touch while catching our z’s. However, I started to notice a pattern. When intercourse ensued before some shut eye, we were zonked, knackered, tuckered out, whatever you want to call it. I mean we really fell asleep, the kind where you don’t even remember to pee after sex (just kidding, I always remember) and the kind where you don’t move your position for seven hours straight. The good kind of sleep. The kind we always hope happens.
But as relationships go, sex doesn’t always happen every evening. On the nights where we were too tired to have sex (or too amped on the olympics to take a break for kissing) we slept horribly and awoke exhausted. Of course, I know that having an orgasm is natural melatonin. It’s a workout, it physically wears you out. So, this isn’t a surprise that the nights wrapped up in each other limbs were met with long-lasting dormancy. But I wasn’t sure what science had to say about this—so I checked it out.
The alarm clock application, Sleep Cycle, actually conducted a survey with 1,000 people to find out what creates the best kind of sleeping habits. 68 percent of Americans said that, just like me, sex helps them feel more rested and sleep better. Moreover, 40 percent of people said that sex was the number one activity they choose to do before falling asleep. Other options were reading a book (33 percent) and listening to music (29 percent).
Sleep Cycle only surveyed a small percentage of it’s user but the National Sleep Foundation agreed with the results. During sex, oxytocin is released while cortisol is lowered which causes a relaxed state of mind. Also, having an orgasm releases prolactin, which is another sleepy and relaxed hormone. For women, sex boosts estrogen levels which enhance REM and create a deeper sleep. Sex is also a great stress reliever which can help you and your partner release any tension stored up during the day.
Of course, the better your sleep is, the better your libido. It’s a cyclical routine.
As I noted above, my partner and I usually sleep touching, in some way or another. Whether that’s spooning or somehow wrapping our legs around one another, we are in contact. Mattress Advisor surveyed 1,000 Americans on how they slept and the quality of their sleep and sex lives. For both men and women, the most popular position was when two people slept on their sides facing away from one another. While this position reduces lower back pain and improves breathing, I don’t favor it and I never have. I’ve mostly dated people who prefer sleeping this way but I always found it cold and a bit heartbreaking when a partner would turn away from me (yikes, I sound extremely smothering and so what, maybe I am). Spooning ranked second for women and third for men in the survey.
A funny characteristic of the study was that women hated being the big spoon in bed. Me, a lover of the big spoon, disagrees with this result. The big spoon means I get to nuzzle my face into my partner’s neck, curl into him, and fall asleep soundly.
Mattress Advisor also found that as couples stay together longer, they look for more separation when sleeping. Not that long ago I rallied for sleeping in separate bedrooms with a long-term live-in partner. But since then, in my new relationship, I still find comfort in being in close proximity, whether I’m the big spoon or little one—I’m always hoping it leads us to a sex-filled slumber.