5 Ways a Lack of Sleep Affects Your Sex Life


Bulleye illustration
Bulleye illustration

When you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not bringing your A game—to the office or to the bedroom. Because there’s basically no chance you can perform at your peak. Without the proper amount of time to repair itself overnight, your body is forced to make do and your focus is one of the first things to suffer. Put simply: when you don’t sleep, you get sloppy and sluggish, and you’re more likely to make mistakes and miss cues. Not sexy.

It lowers
your testosterone

Testosterone is the hormone most closely associated with the male sex drive. According to Dr. Robert D. Oexman, Director of the Sleep to Live Institute, chronic sleep deprivation, which can occur even if you get a solid six hours a night (the majority of adults need at least seven), can lower levels of testosterone. And if this vital hormone is lowered far enough, virtually any man will experience a lag in his libido.

Less sleep means
more stress

A poor sleep schedule not only makes you edgy and irritable, there’s an actual chemical effect—your body is on constant alert. When you’re operating on less sleep, your body surges with cortisol, a natural stress hormone associated with higher blood pressure and lower immune function. And a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, determined that higher levels of cortisol in the body, meant less sex drive and arousal for the subjects. But do you know what naturally lowers cortisol levels? The flood of dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins that surge after an orgasm.

Ticking time bomb illustration
Ticking time bomb illustration

Some say the brain is your largest sex organ. After all, if you’re not in a good mental or emotional space, you’re likely not in the mood to connect with someone sexually. As Britain’s National Health Services explains, “chronic sleep debt may lead to long-term mood disorders like depression and anxiety.” And nearly half of all people dealing with depression report the mood disorder negatively interferes with their sexuality.

And worst of all, it can lead to erectile dysfunction

A 2009 study observed 401 male subjects with sleep apnea. Nearly three quarters of all the men also had erectile dysfunction. Other research has also linked a lack of sleep to problems getting and keep an erection. But it also may have to do with simply all the other ways sleep affects your libido. “Once a man experiences ED, he may get anxious,” says Alan W. Shindel, MD, fellow of andrology at the University of California at San Francisco. “His confidence is shaken, and he might be afraid it will happen again. His libido shuts down to preserve his ego.”





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