Why Is Sleep Important For Sexual Health?

Good sleep is necessary for good health. Sleep health is increasingly recognized as important for physical and mental health by both the medical profession and the general public, and there is great interest in how to avoid and treat sleep disorders and problems.

In fact, patients with urological disorders or erectile dysfunction (ED) may have a sleep disorder that contributes to their urological or sexual dysfunction.

How Short Sleep Negatively Impacts Our Sex Lives

Anxiety and depression, both side effects of insomnia and sleep deprivation, are known to cause sexual dysfunction for a variety of reasons, both physical and cognitive. When the body becomes stressed because of sleep difficulties, the brain suppresses the production of sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone in favor of stress hormones like cortisol. This shift in hormone levels can lead to decreased sex drive, infertility, or erectile dysfunction.

The sleep-sex connection may be more prevalent in women because of the effects of pregnancy, postpartum lifestyle, and menopause. Pregnancy, menopause, and of course new babies, can all cause sleep disorders or insomnia, lowering some women’s interest in sex due to fatigue, stress, or depression.

Sleep and Sex Drive in Women

Decreasing libido, or decreasing sex drive, is a common problem in women. In fact, one estimate is that almost 1/3 of women between ages 18 and 59 suffer from a low sex drive. It’s normal for women to experience fluctuations in libido, and such dips can be caused by anything from stress to changing hormones. But according to a new study, there is a simple way for women to increase their sexual interest: getting more sleep.

Sexual function and desire is closely linked to the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS causes your body to react to stressors (good or bad). It is well-known that the part of the ANS that reacts to good stimulators plays an important part in sexual arousal.

Sleep is important to a whole cascade of events linked to the proper function of the ANS and hormonal releases. Plus, the part of the ANS that responds to negative triggers, like stress, becomes more sensitive when people do not get enough sleep.

Therefore, the conclusion that sleep deprivation can trigger a lower sex drive is not surprising. In order to optimalize their sex drive, it is important for women to let themselves get all the sleep they need to be fully rested, mentally and physically.

Sex Releases Hormones That Facilitate Sleep

Sexual activity causes the body to release extra oxytocin, the so-called love hormone that helps people feel connected to one another. The body also secretes more prolactin, another feel-good hormone, in response to sexual activity. (Prolactin levels spike the most when orgasm occurs during sexual intercourse.)

After sex, these hormones tend to act like sedatives, causing both men and women to feel sleepy and relaxed. Sex also decreases the amount of circulating cortisol in the blood; cortisol is a stress hormone associated with the fight-or-flight response.

How to Improve Your Sleep and Sex Life

To improve both your quality and quantity of sleep, it’s important that you focus on behaviors throughout the day that directly affect sleep. This is known as sleep hygiene. Be sure to limit your nighttime intake of caffeine or other stimulants and try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day to help your body fall asleep naturally.

Remember, turn off all screens at night and leave your phone out of the bedroom. Artificial light can keep you awake and disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm long after you finally turn the screens off. Plus, if you and/or your partner spend each night staring at your phones in bed, you likely won’t be in the mood for sex anyway.


There is a strong connection between sex and sleep for both sexes. Poor sleep has a history of causing problems in bed. Couples where one or both partners are sleep deprived experience infertility and may have trouble conceiving. There is a proven connection between sleep disorders and erectile dysfunction in men. Plus, poor sleep can decrease hormone levels in men and women. To ensure that your sex life is the best that it can be, make sure you’re getting all the sleep your body needs.