A recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that a lack of sleep is linked to poor sexual function, reported CNN.
The study followed around 4,000 women and men in their early- to mid-60s for a year to collect data about their sleeping habits and sex lives. The results showed that poor sleep was linked to erectile dysfunction in men and lack of sexual arousal in women in addition to difficulty achieving orgasm.
Lack of sleep also impacts testosterone levels, which is linked to both erectile dysfunction and sexual arousal. While typically associated with men, testosterone is a hormone that is present in women as well and is important for cognition, muscle mass, the creation of new red blood cells, and bone health.
While sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts, is common in older individuals, it is also increasingly more diagnosed in younger generations. There are also many adults with undiagnosed sleep disorders.
Sleep expert Michael Breus says that women are often underdiagnosed with sleep disorders, adding that if they are suffering from a low sex drive or difficulty achieving orgasm during sex, they should talk to their doctor about their sleep health.
“Women are particularly at risk for undiagnosed sleep problems so women who are experiencing problems with sexual function should have their sleep evaluated.”
While most adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, according to the National Sleep Foundation, only one-third of American adults actually get adequate sleep. Around the world, about 45 percent of the population suffers from sleep deprivation.
There are many steps that can be taken to ensure adequate sleep and therefore, a healthy sex life.
It’s important to practice good sleep hygiene, meaning that you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends, according to the American Sleep Association. A bedtime routine is also important for ensuring you get the number of hours necessary for your body to properly rest.
Sex therapist and educator Laura Berman advises adults to sleep in a dark and cool room, eliminate TV, computers, and smartphones for up to one hour before going to bed, and not stay in bed for more than 10 minutes if you can’t fall asleep. Instead, you should go into another room and engage in a quieting activity, such as reading, until you’re ready to sleep.
Another way to improve sleep and sex is by scheduling sexual encounters, according to Laure Mintz, professor of human sexuality at the University of Florida.
“It sounds so unromantic, but it is one of the best things you can do…We have to get rid of this myth that sex is only good if it’s done spontaneously because in certain life stages, you just aren’t going to have spontaneous sex.”