How Sleep Can Help Boost Low Sex Drive & 3 Tips Great Sleep and Better Sex

a young man and woman cuddle in bed in the morning

Sleep and sex: the two things we use our bedrooms for–but is it possible that poor sleeping habits, deprivation, or even a sleep disorder like sleep apnea are killing your sex drive?

Believe it or not, most Americans are both sleep…and sex deprived. According to the CDC, one in three of us get less than the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night

The figures aren’t much better when it comes to sexual satisfaction: 45% of women and 31% of men report varying degrees of sexual dysfunction And we aren’t even getting as much sex as we used to: a study of 10,000 men and women shows that the percentage of us who are regularly sexually active is far lower than it was two decades ago.

Sex, like sleep, has numerous health benefits, from helping us feel more connected with our partners, to supporting a stronger immune system and even giving us more energy. So what can we do?

The good–and bad–news: sleep has been shown to have a direct impact on sex drive, hormones, and overall satisfaction. So while sleep deprivation and sleep disorders like sleep apnea can damper our mood for time with our partner, quality sleep can do just the opposite.

Today I’ll tell you how to use sleep to overcome a low sex drive; I’ll also reveal the compelling connection between sleep and sexual appetite in women.

The best news? By focusing on your sleep, you won’t have to resort to medications for better results in the bedroom.

Sleep is One Reason Why Women Are More Likely To Suffer From a Low Sex Drive

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand how poor sleep can hamper your love life. If you’re exhausted, it’s hard to get in the mood — and even if you are in the mood, you might be simply too tired to follow through on your desire.

This is especially true for women. There are several reasons why women have a harder time getting consistent, quality sleep than men, including fluctuations in hormones and being more likely to tend to young children in the middle of the night. Other factors, like pregnancy and menopause, can also make it more difficult for women to get a full night of sleep.

Unfortunately, getting less sleep is one factor in women being more likely to exerience a low sex drive. A 2017 Britsh study of  more than 6,000 women and 4,000 men between the ages of 16-74, found that 34.2% of women reported extended periods of diminished sex drive within the last year. For men, that figure was only 15%.

Researchers pointed to a few reasons why female participants more frequently reported lower libidos, including having been pregnant within the last year and having at least one young child to take care of.

The results only reinforced how low sex drives are an especially common issue for women. In fact, low sex drive is the number one sexual issue women discuss with their doctors.

Common symptoms of a low sex drive include:

  • Lacking interest in any sexual activity, including masterbating
  • Rarely or never having sexual fantasies
  • Being cognizant of, and concerned about, your lack of sexual activity

Sleep: The Natural Cure for Low Sex Drive

Here’s where things can turn around.  Consistent restorative sleep has been shown to improve low libidos, especially for women.

One study from a few years ago found a straightforward connection: women who slept more were more likely to see an increase in their sexual appetite. The study, looking at 171 college-age women, found that an extra hour of sleep per night led to a 14% increase in the likelihood the women had sex the following day. Women who had more sleep were also more likely to experience vaginal arousal than women who got less sleep.

The women who slept more didn’t need to get an excessive amount of sleep to notice the benefits, either. On average, women who experienced improved sex drives slept for just 7 hours and 22 minutes per night. In other words, it only took an average amount of sleep each night for women to report stronger libidos.

You might be thinking this just applies to younger people. After all, the study I just mentioned was mostly focused on college-age participants. But that’s not the case. Multiple studies have shown sleep helps improve sexual desire, regardless of age.

Last year, a study looking at about 4,000 men and women in their 60’s reported similar results. The key takeaway was that a lack of sleep or poor sleep — often caused by sleep disorders like untreated sleep apnea — led to arousal and orgasmic difficulty for women.

Sex Drive Killers–And How Sleep Can Help

You’re probably wondering at this point how, exactly, sleep helps with sex drives. I’ll sum it up in one word: testosterone.

Testosterone is often exclusively thought of as a “male hormone.” But it’s just as important in regulating the sex drive of women as it is men. In fact, it may be even more important for women.

This is especially true for women going through menopause. In women, testosterone is produced by the ovaries, meaning middle age women are most likely to suffer declines in testosterone. Testosterone, as it does in men, plays an important role in sex drive.

A lack of sleep leads to the release of cortisol, a hormone that’s best known for driving the body’s fight or flight response. The release of cortisol hampers testosterone production, which in turn leads to a dampened sex drive, research has found.

You can read more about how sleep impacts testosterone production if you’re interested.

3 Steps to Better Sleep and Better Sex

Now that you know just how much sleep affects your sex life, here are my top three easy steps to get better sleep– and improve your libido in the process.

  • Prioritize Sleep: We’re all busy, but setting a sleep schedule, the way you’d schedule work or working out, is your first step to better sleep and sex. Adults should aim for about 7.5 hours of sleep each night. To figure out when you should get to bed and wake up, use my sleep calculator
  • Turn Down the Thermostat: Especially a concern during these hot summer months, you need to make sure your bedroom stays cool; the ideal is around 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Staying cool at night helps the body fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
    • If you’re not looking to run the AC all night, sleep systems like Chilipad are a great option. The Chilipad lets you control your body heat while sleeping, working to lower your body temperature at night and then warming you up in the morning — the ideal combination for getting quality rest.
  • Block Out Noise: Don’t let a noisy neighbor get in the way of great sleep. If you’re having a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep at night because of loud noises, you may want to consider buying a white noise machine. Check out my 7 favorite white noise machines on the market before making your decision.

By creating a comfortable sleep environment and making sure you spend enough time in bed, you give yourself a better chance of avoiding a diminished sex drive, no matter your age. The payment is small, and the returns can be massive. If you’ve noticed your sex drive has gone south lately, please take account of your sleep quality and how it could be a prime factor. You might end up saving yourself a nice chunk of change.

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Michael Breus, Ph.D - The Sleep Doctor is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and one of only 168 psychologists to pass the Sleep Medical Specialty Board without going to medical school. Dr. Breus is a sought after lecturer and his knowledge is shared daily in major national media worldwide including Today, Dr. Oz, Oprah, and for fourteen years as the sleep expert on WebMD. Dr. Breus is the bestselling author of The Power of When, The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan and Good Night!

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