Sleep is Sexy

It is perhaps not widely known that sleep should occur before sex and not only sometimes after sex.

Of course I am not referrering to the need to sleep immediately before sex. I am referring to the need to have a healthy regular sleep diet of 7 to 8 hours. There are physiological reasons why sleep plays such an important role in our sex drive – women and men alike. Poor sleep also decreases hormones in men and women.

For men it is essential for your nervous system to be relaxed (or parasympathetic) before sexual arousal and erectile function can be maintained.  When suffering with a breathing disorder, such as sleep apnoea, stress responses are occurring and over-breathing or hyperventialtion heightens the sympathetic aspect of your nervous system. If, for example, we are physically threatened our fight or flight instincts will be aroused. In turn, our heart rate and blood pressure will increase with a resultant supply of blood to our vital organs such as the brain and lungs and away from our reproductive organs.

Sorry guys – our genitals are simply not important when our sympathetic nervous system is activated!

As a young man in my late thirties I suffered bouts of impotence. I was ashamed. It threatened to become an existential crisis for me. I had no idea that I had sleep apnoea. Even if I was aware of my condition I would not have made the connection between sleep deprivation and impotence. I mistakenly attributed impotence to other aspects of my relationship.

Poor sleep can put your relationship at risk. I understand that couples can experience infertility where one or both partners are sleep deprived and may have trouble conceiving. I can personally vouch for there being a proven connection between sleep disorders and impotence.

A recent study ” The impact of Sleep on Female Sexual Response and Behaviour. A Pilot Study” published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine established a link between the amount of sleep and sex drive in women.

The study involving 171 women, who were not on anti- depressants, over a 14 day period found that longer sleep related to greater sexual desire. Each additional hour equated to approximately 14% increase in sexual arousal. Sleep allows the autonomic nervous system to react to good stressors and allows hormonal release.

So if your partner tells you that she is simply too tired tonight don’t take it personally as a rejection. Make sure she gets all the sleep she needs so that she is fully rested mentally and physically – as there is always tomorrow night!

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