The Perils of Sleep Deprivation
There are a lot of things about our health we can’t control. Since genetic factors and other physiological predispositions play a role in determining much of the course of how our minds and bodies will run, our health isn’t completely out of our hands. There are a ton of things we can do to take control of our overall wellbeing and stay healthy. Reducing stress, eating well, working out: these are aspects of our lives we control that are vital to mental and physical vigour. One of the most significant aspects of our daily (or nightly) lives that play a crucial role in our health and overall state of being is, drumroll please… sleep!
A good night’s sleep is something we know has an obvious impact on everything from our mood to our appetite (no it’s not just you!). If you are don’t sleep well at night—some studies say anywhere between 7 and 9 hours, but the jury is still out on the exact amount needed—then the body doesn’t go through the full range of sleep cycles our individual circadian rhythms require. So yes, sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on your overall and long-term health, but if that isn’t reason enough to start hunkering down early and get some rest, here’s a doozy: sleep and sex have an intimate codependent relationship. Sleep deprivation can lead to a lower sex drive and a diminished interest in sex. On the flip side, if you’re having a tough time falling asleep, releasing certain hormones by having an orgasm before bed can help get a good night’s rest. Let’s unpack some of that.
A healthy sex life can lead to better sleep and better sleep can lead to a better sex life. Sign me up!
One side of things
If you don’t get enough sleep, you might feel sluggish, but imagine suffering from long-term sleep deprivation… that listless feeling might turn into anxiety and even feelings of unhappiness. I need not explain how that can decrease the desire to engage in sexual activity, but the facts are, even if bad sleep doesn’t make you too tired for sex, it is likely taking a negative toll on your emotional, mental and physiological state, which is when dysfunctions might incur. When the body becomes stressed from lack of sleep, the brain suppresses the production of sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone (highly produced and released during the sleep cycle) and favours the release of stress hormones like cortisol. This shift in hormones can lead to a decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, or even infertility. Ever see sleep deprivation on a symptom list you Google late at night? Now you know why!
The other side of things
Although not a prescription for improving the quality of sleep, some studies have shown that sex before bed can make for a good night’s rest. The endorphins released by sex is the same endorphin that helps lower anxiety and help relax the mind and body. Naturally countering effects of cortisol (the stress hormone), the oxytocin that is released in accompaniment with orgasm can help promote relaxation.
The key takeaway here is that sleep is a vital part of our bodies’ ability to function – good sleep can reduce stress and promote healthy cognitive and physiological function, while lack of sleep can have impending effects on the cardiovascular system, neurological function, and even digestive tract. The interdependent relationship between sex and sleep is yet another good reason to start taking your nightly beauty rest seriously.
Each person’s body is made differently, and so the exact amount of hours needed for a proper night’s sleep is not a science (believe it or not!). So one way to know if you’re getting enough sleep is to check yourself in the morning. Do you feel rested? If you can unhesitatingly answer no to that question, it’s time to start making some adjustments.
So, no more caffeine before bed, take that jog or do that yoga at some point regularly throughout the week, eat well, and avoid too much stimulation before sleep (decrease screen time and avoid electronic devices). If you think you suffer from a sleep disorder—trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, waking frequently throughout the night (to pee or what not), or groggy, cranky, and generally tired—it’s time to see your doctor.