Image credit: Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash
Written by Susan Jarvis, The Maven
Our bodies are magnificent, biological machines housing the World’s most complex computer (though some may disagree on that point). We are built for function and for pleasure and our body definitely knows what it wants, and needs, but are we listening?
When we are hungry, we eat. When we feel pain, we treat it. When we bleed, we bandage it. When we feel tired we soldier on oblivious to just how much our body needs quality sleep to maintain function across all aspects of our health: physical, emotional and sexual.
A study by Lastella et al (2019) from Central Queensland University in Australia examined perceptions of the general public of the link between sex and sleep and concluded that masturbation was perceived as inducing better sleep quality and onset whereas partnered orgasms promoted ‘favourable sleep outcomes’. Interesting! Does this mean that couples should sleep in separate rooms or beds? That might be worthy of a separate discussion another time.
Science has established that during sexual activity the body releases feel good endorphins including oxytocin, which is known to induce relaxation. So, could it be that when we are tired our body sends us signals in the hope that we will seek relief via an orgasm and therefore achieve the body’s need for quality sleep? Hmmm.
Just as a flower produces nectar to attract insects and birds, maybe our body has developed its own ‘strategy’ to procure a regular supply of Nature’s sleeping pill (aka orgasm) through these very familiar signs?
Nocturnal emissions (wet dreams) Sexual Release and Sleep
The jury is still out on why we have wet dreams, one thing that is well known is that they are experienced by men and women (of all ages) and are not the sole realm of teenage boys!
This author can relate to the experience of nocturnal orgasms while sleeping and theorises that it’s connected with the frequency of sexual activity or experiencing less awake orgasms, which can equate to more frequent sleeping orgasms.
‘Usually, my sleeping orgasm is just as good as when I am awake, so I’m quite happy for them to remain and compliment my life!
I’ll admit, the day after I have experienced a nocturnal orgasm my body, mind and spirit do feel more aroused and primed to seek sexual intimacy with my partner. I ask you, the reader, am I alone with this experience? Am I one of the few menopausal women experiencing nocturnal arousal sessions, or is it more common? I’d like to know!’ Please share your comment below.
Image credit: Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Quick arousal to stimuli (aka erections in awkward places)
Image credit: Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash
I am certain that most penis owners have experienced situations where their penis has stood to attention at the wrong time.
Women have erections too, luckily they can be camouflaged by clothing but occasionally nipples can be a strong indicator of arousal (or the cold) and sometimes the lights get stuck on high beam for the whole world to see.
Are frequent, ill-timed erections an indication of a body battling to control its pent up sexual energy and the body’s way to orchestrate sleep inducing chemicals via orgasm? What are your thoughts?
Irritability (Sexual Release and Sleep)
“Get out of the wrong side of the bed this morning? and “Not getting enough?” are questions I have heard many times, particularly in the last 10 years of my journey through menopause. While somewhat ambiguous, I’m fairly certain that these questions are loosely directed to my sex life though I like to think that ‘not getting enough’ applies to both sleep and sex (it certainly isn’t chocolate for that is abundant).
We need sleep to repair our bodies, reset our brain, and restore our health. We need to be sexual to maintain balance between our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. You don’t need a science degree to recognise that the two are linked.
If you find yourself in a cranky mood, invest in time for sexual pleasure. Whether you are partnered or not, time spent touching yourself for pleasure is time well-spent and the most affordable (and enjoyable) therapy accessible to you 24/7. If you find that your moods don’t improve over time, please see your GP for a health check just in case there is an issue ticking in the background.
If you have never experienced insomnia I congratulate you!
I have firsthand experience of battling insomnia which was related to ongoing, unresolved stress at that particular time of my life.
To help myself relax, I practised self-pleasuring on those nights where it was particularly difficult to fall asleep. I found that I didn’t always experience an orgasm and that was fine. Rather, just the simple act of touch, setting my mind adrift, escaping momentarily from my problems could be enough to send me on to dreamland.
There were times when my battle with insomnia lasted night after night, and for those occasions I deployed strategies provided by my psychologist. They recommended I keep a bedside journal and write down my thoughts and feelings that circled in my head, if the thought rose again I would repeat a simple mantra ‘I’ve dealt with that’ and move back to sleep mode.
Another tip for when you are chasing sleep, take yourself on a World tour in your head. Conjure up images such as The Eiffel Tower, the pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China…before you know it you’ll be asleep before you get to your next destination.
My advice, if insomnia is making its presence known in your life more and more frequently, please see your GP and/or a counsellor. If you have tips to share with other readers, please leave a comment below.
Skin hunger (Sexual Release and Sleep)
We are all born hungry for touch, some of us need a lot and others just a little. Being touched, whether that is hugging, holding hands, stroking and caressing, invokes feelings of connection and a sense of belonging. Our magic ‘cuddle hormone’ oxytocin responds to touching and helps to alleviate our stress and anxiety.
According to Psychology Today, touch also has physiological benefits including:
- Calming the nervous system
- Boosting dopamine production
- Positively influencing the serotonin system
- Reducing the production of cortisol
- Lowering blood pressure and heart rate
- Improving healing and decrease pain.
- Spurring production of oxytocin
I believe that touch is one of our greatest assets to soothe and protect ourselves and the ones we love, and it helps us get to sleep (says one who is fortunate enough to have their back rubbed every night).
If you are deprived of touch, perhaps exploring a Cuddle Party might be an option for you to consider? If there isn’t a group in your area, perhaps consider creating one?
Visit this Global website to find an association near you: www.cuddleparty.com
How many of us have settled for perfunctory, routine sex because we are too tired to make an effort? I bet there are many who would put their hand up (this author included) or have said, “Not tonight, darling, I have a headache.” I wonder, is our headache our body’s way of craving the feel good chemicals of intimacy and sexual activity?
A 2013 German study surveyed 600 migraine patients about their migraine pain intensity during sexual activity. Roughly 60% of respondents reported relief of their migraine which indicates that sexual activity, and the release of associated endorphins, can actually help to resolve headaches, which in turn, can assist with inducing quality sleep.
Though, if you experience headaches that commence during sex, please see your GP as soon as you can. There are some health issues, such as cardiovascular and blood pressure, that can cause problems during sexual activity. Please get checked, and if the pain is intense then call an ambulance and present to your nearest Emergency Department.
What would life look like with quality sleep?
Imagine what your life would be like if you had quality sleep every night?
- Elevated mood
- Increased energy
- Feeling balanced
- And perhaps experiencing more frequent, quality sex? (either partnered or solo)
Our sexual health and the quality of our sleep are intertwined and our body continuously sends us signals when it needs to restore balance. It is important that we pay heed as our overall health depends on it.
Lastella, Michele & O'Mullan, Cathy & Paterson, Jessica & Reynolds, Amy. (2019). Sex and Sleep: Perceptions of Sex as a Sleep Promoting Behavior in the General Adult Population. Frontiers in Public Health. 7. 10.3389/fpubh.2019.00033.
Hambach A, Evers S, Summ O, Husstedt IW, Frese A. The impact of sexual activity on idiopathic headaches: an observational study. Cephalalgia. 2013 Apr;33(6):384-9. doi: 10.1177/0333102413476374. Epub 2013 Feb 19. PMID: 23430983.