• Getting a good night’s sleep can promote healthy sexual desire and arousal in women. (Getty Images)
If you have a bed partner, it’s a nightly dilemma: should you choose immediate shut-eye or delay sleep for some rumpy-pumpy to improve your wellbeing?
By
Shannon McKeogh

28 Feb 2017 - 11:46 AM  UPDATED 28 Feb 2017 - 1:36 PM

Both sound like pretty good options, and they are. Getting a good night of shut eye is crucial for good health, mood, weight management, immune function, memory consolidation and not nodding off when your boss is talking to you about their golf handicap at work.

Sex is also a big deal for one’s wellbeing. Sexy time decreases stress and increases trust and connection with your partner, which means giving your relationship a chance of a longer future than Brad and Angelina’s.

So, what’s the better choice come bedtime?

According to Dr Lastella, sleep researcher at Appleton Institute for Behavioural Science at CQ University who is currently investigating the link between sex and sleep, it depends on what you need more of.  Not sleeping well? Try sex. Not getting enough sex or lacking sexual desire? Try sleep.

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 “A common complaint is that people sometimes struggle to sleep,” Dr Lastella tells SBS,  “Apart from the usual sleep hygiene techniques such as establishing regular bedtime and wake times, avoiding caffeine, avoiding electronic devices, ensuring that your bedroom is dark and comfortable, I am interested in exploring the idea that sex may be used as a form of sleep therapy.”

And getting a deep, blissful slumber is something we need help with. Research from the Sleep Health Foundation found that 20 per cent of Australians have difficulty falling asleep and 35 per cent wake up feeling unrefreshed.

Research also suggests that if you are from an Indigenous or culturally diverse background, you could be worse off. A US study published in Sleep Medicine Journal found that African Americans, Hispanics and Asians slept less than Caucasians. African Americans got 6.8 hours of sleep a night on average, compared with 6.9 hours for Hispanics and Asians, while Caucasians got a generous 7.4 hours. 

Researchers put this difference down to socioeconomic stresses caused by lower education and lower income.

For those trying to get their mojo back, sleep could be the natural supplement you’ve been searching for.

While “getting it on” may not be the answer for social inequality, it could be an alternative to having a warm cup of milk or camomile tea before bed.

 “It is possible that sex, particularly with a partner and orgasm, may aid better quality of sleep,” says Dr Lastella.

“From our preliminary data it appears that over 60 per cent of people indicate that their sleep improves after sex that is with a partner and involves an orgasm.”

Dr Lastella acknowledges that when it comes to orgasms in heterosexual relationships, men and women generally aren’t in synch and one may “prematurely” nod off.

“On average men take between seven – 14 minutes to reach orgasm by all methods of stimulation, but average two – three minutes after initiating intercourse. Women on the other hand take between 10 - 20 minutes to reach orgasm.”

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For those trying to get their mojo back, sleep could be the natural supplement you’ve been searching for.

A 2015 study by Kalmbach and others examining 171 women over a two-week period revealed that, for every extra hour of sleep obtained, women increased their likelihood of engaging in sexual activity with a partner the next day by 14 per cent,” says Dr Lastella.

“These results suggest that obtaining a good night’s sleep can promote healthy sexual desire and arousal in women.”

Whether you opt for sex before sleep or sleep before sex, Dr Lastella says it’s worth a try to see what works for you.

“One thing is for sure, it certainly can’t hurt,” he says.

Australians are being encouraged to open up about their sleep and sex life through a survey link led by Dr Lastella. Take part here.

Love the story? Follow the author here: Twitter @shannylm Facebook @shannonmckeoghfreelance

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