According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Failing to meet this sleep goal on a regular basis can wreak havoc on your body and your life. Of course, the immediate effects of sleep deprivation can be felt first thing in the morning. You feel groggy and tired, have no energy, you can’t concentrate very well, your memory is poor and you might have a headache. However, there are many additional negative effects of lack of sleep that can manifest in the long run. Studies show that habitual sleep deprivation increases your risk of many medical problems including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, obesity, stroke, depression and anxiety. Naturally, these major medical issues that can be caused by sleep deprivation can decrease your quality of life quite a bit.
However, the list doesn’t end there. Surprisingly, multiple scientific studies have also discovered a link between poor sleep and sexual dissatisfaction. Not getting enough sleep has also been shown to lower testosterone levels, which can negatively affect libido. Understanding and paying attention to the link between sleep and sexual satisfaction is crucial, as sexuality is a major aspect of our lives and being dissatisfied with your sex life can decrease your overall happiness both in your relationship and life in general.
The Link Between Sleep and Sexual Satisfaction in Men
One study, conducted at the University of Chicago and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that getting less than five hours of sleep each night for just one week is enough to lower testosterone levels dramatically. The decrease in testosterone caused by lack of sleep was equivalent to that caused by aging 15 years. Naturally, since testosterone is the primary hormone responsible for sex drive, this drop can easily diminish a man’s libido.
Low libido is not the only risk of sub-optimal testosterone levels. The hormone decline caused by sleep deprivation can also lead to muscle wasting, loss of bone density, lack of concentration, and fatigue. Low testosterone is even linked to metabolic syndrome, which is a group of risk factors that increase your risk of major diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Never underestimate the importance of getting enough sleep.
The Negative Effects of Sleep Deprivation Also Apply to Women
Many of the factors that lead to sexual dissatisfaction in men also cause this condition in women. The link between sleep and sexual satisfaction affects both sexes. One study, done by the North American Menopause Society, analyzed data from over 93,000 postmenopausal women. The researchers found that women who slept for less than seven hours each night were not only less likely to report that they were sexually satisfied but also less likely to be sexually active in the first place.
Although this particular study only looked at postmenopausal women, it’s likely that this link between sleep and sexual satisfaction extends to women of all ages. After all, no one is immune to the most common reasons why people don’t get enough sleep. For example, consuming caffeine too late in the day, having a stressful day, lying awake worrying, or simply not making it enough of a priority to go to bed on time.
Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
You can optimize both the length and quality of your sleep by following sleep hygiene guidelines in addition to hitting that seven-hour recommendation. Here are some important tips for sleep hygiene that will help your body and mind relax into sleep-mode:
- Caffeine can take a surprisingly long time to be flushed out of your system. Most experts recommend abstaining from caffeine after around 2 p.m. Otherwise, the caffeine will most likely still be in your system by the time you go to bed.
- In addition to caffeine, other substances can disrupt sleep, such as nicotine. Alcohol and cannabis can make you feel sleepy, but this is a deceiving effect and having these substances in your system actually decreases your sleep quality, making you less refreshed in the morning. Avoid using any of these substances in the few hours before bedtime.
- Exercise during the day, as this is linked to better sleep quality (and even better libido). The official recommendation is to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. This has the added advantage for improving sex drive because exercise increases testosterone, serotonin and blood flow, which are all important components of libido.
- Don’t eat heavy meals right before bed. Heartburn or a full feeling can make it take longer to fall asleep. Plus, if your body has to do a lot of digestion while you sleep, you might not sleep as deeply.
- Half an hour to an hour before bedtime, turn off your computer and phone screens, as the blue light emitted from them signals your brain to stay awake. If possible, turn down the lights in your house as well. Instead do something relaxing, such as reading or taking a bath, before it’s time to sleep.
- Your bedroom should be as dark, quiet and comfortable as possible. If necessary, you can use things like earplugs, eye masks or white noise machines.
- Your bedroom should ideally be on the cooler side, as a too-warm body temperature can decrease sleep quality.