A couple of years ago, I penned an article for the platform entitled “6 Fascinating Ways Sex And Sleep Definitely Go Hand In Hand.” When you get a chance, please check it out. The gist is that if there’s one thing that sex and sleep have in common, it’s the fact that they can both do wonders for our holistic health and well-being. Problem is, sometimes getting a good night’s rest or pregaming in order to have some amazing sex can be a bit of a challenge.
If you can relate, no worries, I got you. What we’re gonna tackle here are 12 things that you can do that are almost guaranteed to make it easier to fall — and stay — asleep…and, if you’ve got someone sexy in the bed with you, these tips will make some prior-to-sleep sex, middle-of-the-night sex, morning sex (or all three) totally off the charts too.
1. An Intimacy Ritual
Dr. Joyce Brothers once said, "Real intimacy is only possible to the degree that we can be honest about what we are doing and feeling." With that being said, I once read an article that said intimacy should be broken down into four different categories: emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual. Basically, if you don't feel a sense of closeness, friendship, and acceptance in those areas, something is awry.
I couldn't agree more. Since, to me, all of these things speak to feeling safe, that's why I think it's essential to cultivate intimacy rituals, especially in the evening as you're winding down for the night. It doesn't matter if you're with someone or not because if there's one person who you should feel safe with, most of all, it is yourself. Do some journaling. Meditate. Verbally acknowledge some things that you accomplished throughout the day that you are proud of. Soak in the tub while listening to some of your favorite music. Forgive yourself for a mistake that you made. Do something that makes you feel safe — or safer — within.
And if you do have a boo who shares your bed with you — get in the tub together, give each other a massage, communicate what you adore about each other, share a toast…all of these are things that can make you feel calmer and more relaxed. And when you're holistically in that frame of mind, it's easier to fall asleep. Plus, it puts you in the mood to want to have sex — or even better sex.
2. Some Rose Petals
There are plenty of studies to support the fact that smell has an effect on, not just how quickly you are able to fall asleep but the quality of sleep that you will have too. Research also backs up the fact that odor sensitivity can impact how good — or not so good — your sexual experiences are too. So yeah, there’s no way that I could do an article like this without giving the sense of smell some thought — and one that can benefit how you sleep and improve your sex life is rose.
The reason why I recommend rose petals is that, from an Ayurvedic medicine standpoint, there are several different ways that you can use them to your advantage. The scent is soothing and relaxing. When you put some into your bathwater (especially if it’s along with some coconut, almond, or oat milk), rose petals are an awesome skin moisturizer. If you boil them, they are powerful when you steam your face (and hair). You can also let your rose petals dry and turn them into potpourri to put on your nightstand.
However you choose to incorporate rose petals, they will provide a dose of aromatherapy that will complement your sleep and/or sex plans. That’s for damn sure.
3. Blue or Green Lighting
If you’re about to move into a new spot or you’re thinking about doing a bit of renovating in the place that you already have, consider painting your bedroom a shade of blue or green. Studies indicate that blue helps to create a sense of calm while, since green represents nature, it can help to soothe your senses.
The same thing can go for installing a blue or green light bulb into one of your lamps or getting a night light in either hue. Even if you don’t keep it on all night, these are two colors that can relax you and make it easier to get into a sleep and/or sex routine. (By the way, a literal blue light is awesome if you struggle with soundly sleeping. You can read more about how and why here.)
4. Turning Down Your Thermostat
Have you ever wondered why you might go to bed feeling comfortable or even chilly only to wake up in the middle of the night in a hot sweat? While it could mean that you are perimenopausal (which means an onset of hot flashes is going on), don’t automatically jump to that conclusion (without speaking with your doctor first).
There’s a huge possibility that things like exercising an hour before bed, engaging in a super intense sex session (no joke), and not getting a proper amount of ventilation (open up those windows) can cause your hormones to move all over the place too.
So, if you hate sleeping hot as much as I do, be intentional about setting your thermostat to somewhere between 60-68 degrees (I tend to hover somewhere around 66-67). It will help your temperature to stay regulated, keep your electricity bill down and make random middle-of-the-night coitus more comfortable since there’s a good chance that you both won’t be sweaty and sticky (especially if you sleep naked…you do sleep naked, right?).
5. Having Breakfast for Dinner
Question: When’s the last time you had some pancakes for dinner? Aside from the fact that having breakfast foods around that time of the day is cheaper, quicker, and tends to be less calories than a traditional dinner-themed meal, it can also help with your sleep patterns and your sex life.
For one thing, foods like pancakes and bagels contain carbs that can reduce your energy levels (yes, make you sleepy), breakfast meals have fat and protein in them that can slow your digestive system down (also make you sleepy), and oatmeal has melatonin in it — and that can definitely help you to catch some zzz’s.
As far as your libido goes, the magnesium in spinach (spinach omelet, anyone?), the amino acids in watermelon (how about a homemade watermelon smoothie?), the vitamin C in strawberries, the potassium in bananas, the antioxidants in pomegranate juice — all of these nutrients work together to give you one hell of a sex round — or two.
6. Walking Together After Dinner
Next question: When’s the last time that you and your boo thang took a leisurely stroll around your neighborhood after dinner? On the health tip, it’s a brilliant move because, not only does it help you to digest your food better (as you get some fresh air that your body probably needs), even after only two minutes of strolling, you help to lower your risk of diabetes as well.
Since a lot of us toss and turn all night because our system is still “processing” our meals, you can probably see how walking can improve your quality of rest. Also, since walking has been proven to improve moods and blood circulationand since it’s also an awesome way to get some (probably) much-needed intimacy time in with your partner — yes, carve out 15 minutes (or so) to hold hands and circle a block or two with them. TONIGHT.
7. A Calf Massage and/or a Belly Rub
Nothing is more relaxing than a massage. Well, did you know that when it comes to promoting sleep and increasing your libido on the way heading there, there are certain pressure points that are more effective than others? While a calf massage is soothing, it also stimulates blood flow to your nether regions. And if you and your partner rub on each other’s bellies, it can serve as an all-natural energy boost that will arouse you at the same time. The more you know, chile. The more you freakin’ know.
8. Drinking Tart Cherry Juice
You’ve probably heard that if you’re having a difficult time falling asleep, a glass of warm milk will do the trick (especially if you add honey). Well, if milk (or even milk alternatives because they work well, too) aren’t exactly your thing, next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up some 100 percent pure (none of that sugared-up cocktail mess) tart cherry juice.
In the article, “8 Foods That Will Keep You Cool, Calm & Totally Relaxed,” I mentioned that cherry juice is effective in all three of those ways (in part, due to the tryptophan that’s in it). And here’s the deal — the more relaxed you are, the easier it is to fall asleepand experience orgasms. And since the antioxidants that are in it also do things like promote brain health and strengthen your immune system — yeah, you definitely should at least try to give some tart cherry juice a shot.
9. Doing Orgasmic Meditation Together
Remember how I said at the top of this piece that it's a good idea for people to create some sort of intimacy ritual — whether they share a bed with someone or not? Well, if you happen to be in a coupledom, it certainly can never hurt to engage in some orgasmic meditation. It's basically a meditative practice that consists of deep breathing, mindfulness, and the gentle stroking of your partner (and vice versa). The couples who I've recommended it to are actually huge fans because it helps them to relax and feel closer to their partner. Yeah, it can definitely prepare you for a night of cuddling, climaxing, or (hopefully) both. Anyway, you can read more about it by checking out "What Exactly Is 'Orgasmic Meditation'?".
10. Counting Your Blessings
If you've ever wondered where the practice of counting sheep actually came from, one theory is it's what shepherds in medieval Britain did back in the day. Basically, the belief was that if they counted sheep at night, they could make sure that they all were present and accounted for as they drifted off for the evening. Now, as far as whether it actually works? Some health professionals say that it's not so much the sheep but the repetitive mind play that makes it potentially effective.
My take? Whether the motive is to fall asleep or get it on, swap out the sheep for your blessings — either what you are grateful for or what you appreciate about your partner. Listen, there is plenty of intel out in cyberspace to support the fact that being grateful makes you happier, reduces stress, and improves the quality of your relationships with other people. So, whether you're counting alone or with someone, it's gonna make for a better night.
11. NO ELECTRONICS
There's a married couple I know who pretty much have a non-existent sex life. SMDH. Whenever we discuss it, one of the things that they both say is they have basically fallen into a rut of getting into bed every night and binge-watching a show and/or playing on their phones until they drift to sleep. While clearly, the electronics in their bedroom is not the only issue that you've got going on, it certainly doesn't help — and I mean this when it comes to the quality of their sex life or the quality of sleep that they both need.
There is plenty of data out in these cyberspace streets that say screen time around bedtime affects (which is more like infects) melatonin production, your brain calming down, and your body transitioning over into full-on REM sleep. And as far as your sex life goes — I mean, if you're distracted with other things, how can you give sex (or sexual activity) your all?
I say it often because it continues to be true: interior designers have stated for years that the bedroom is for sex and sleep ONLY. Hey, you can be like the couple that I just mentioned and ignore that fact, yet if it's ultimately costing you quality rest and intimacy…is it worth it? Is it really?
As a doula, I am well aware of the fact that skin-to-skin contact between a baby and their parents can do wonders for their overall health and well-being. And you know what? It doesn't change much as we age, either. Cuddling with your partner can reduce stress levels, block pain signals, and boost your oxytocin levels. When that happens, it can 1) make sleeping soundly easier to do and 2) draw you closer to your partner, not just physically but on a mental and emotional level as well.
This is especially the case if you're not only spooning but spooning naked. The position helps to make you and your partner feel safe and comforted, which is always ideal for resting. Plus, rubbing up against each other with no clothes on? Chile, how could that not get some things going at some point during the night? And since it is indeed a sexual position that is a fan favorite (especially when it comes to easy access and easily receiving penetration and clitoral stimulation simultaneously) — there really was no better way to bring this article to a close. Now was there? Good sex and sweet dreams everyone. #wink
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
The face of tennis is changing, and it’s about time. Over the years, if you were asked to name any Black tennis player, two would come to mind: Serena and Venus Williams — and rightfully so. But as new tennis sensations like Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka rise to fame for their athleticism and tenacity, it’s clear that there’s a new era of tennis taking shape to bring forth a fresh take on representation and reclamation on the courts.
For that reason alone, there’s no better time than now for Black Girl Tennis Club co-founders Virginia Thornton and Kimberly Selden to lead the charge of making tennis more accessible to Black women and girls so the next Serena and Coco can emerge.
What began as your everyday lunch chat between friends to discuss their mutual dream of owning a boutique hotel turned into a proposition to start a tennis club together. With Virginia being a tennis player since adolescence and Kimberly entering the sport as a hobby in her adult life, the two jumped at the idea of making a space where Black women could discover a new hobby and not feel like the “only one” on the tennis court.
“The club kind of started for selfish reasons, but not in a bad way,” Virginia tells xoNecole. “We realized that there was actually a need for this.”
Kimberly adds, “Now we're literally disrupting a whole industry. We didn't plan it, but it felt divine; like we were called to do this. Black Girls Tennis Club has been a catalyst for personal growth in all areas of life, and we would have never anticipated that.”
Since establishing the Black Girl Tennis Club in 2022, the two have made it their mission to cultivate a space for “Joy Equity and Radical Wellness.” Their platform serves as a means to inform, inspire, motivate, and reshape the narrative around Black women and girls in the tennis world while highlighting the transformative power of sports and play for liberation.
With approximately 78% of tennis players being white and only 6.8% being Black, and the average cost of a private tennis lesson being $60 per hour, racial and economic disparities within the sport are vast. To help close this gap, the two founders have banded together to develop free tennis instruction clinics for girls aged 8-18 and local tennis events that bring adult offerings through programs like the Self Love Tennis Club and Cardio Tennis Classes to HBCU campuses in Virginia.
Both Virginia and Kimberly understand the power of their mission and believe that they were brought on each other’s path to execute it together. “It’s the power of alignment,” Kimberly says. “I think when you're doing the right thing and you're obedient, and answer the call, that’s when things start to happen, and the universe conspires to make them happen.”
We caught up with the founders to discuss their mission, the importance of representation, and how they plan to disrupt the tennis industry one court at a time.
xoNecole: Could you talk a little more about your CARE pillars with change, access, representation and exposure?
Kimberly Selden: As we started to do the work, we saw that there were so many equity issues. Although we knew from our own personal experiences that there are barriers to tennis being an expensive sport, we just acknowledged it as the culture of tennis. Because it's predominantly white, that transfers over to the fashion, the dynamics on the court, the attitudes, and the mindset. And so we knew this required a culture shift for us to ever really feel comfortable.
We were exposing kids to tennis, and then after the clinics, they're like, "Okay, now what?" It's still expensive, and they still may or may not have had access to it if they're not with us. We don't want to just pop in like, "Hey, here's a clinic, bye!" So, the culture change is just a reflection of what our existence looks like. Access is about being able to access the sport through courts, programs, or a coach. Representation is that we can't believe it until we see it.
Granted, there are a lot of pro Black women tennis players taking off, and we love that. But we think about media representation as well [as] representation within the USCA, in the boardrooms, and the people that are making the rules around the game.
xoN: Why do you all think it’s important for Black women and girls to reclaim their space on the tennis court?
Virginia Thornton: It's rare, at least in my world, where you're in a space and see nothing but women who look like you. But it makes me feel great when I can be my authentic self, especially on a tennis court. Just shedding all the weight of pretending to be anything else. You feel at home when you're around nothing but Black women. Even small things like seeing a young Black girl being okay with how God made them is amazing.
KS: [In] the Atlanta clinics we did, everyone was crying. It's just clear how desperately we need it. Connection is the key to a long life. So many of us — especially from the pandemic and working from home — are isolated. With every clinic, it's just fun to be there, and it just fills you up. I think people need hobbies. I think a lot of people, especially people in big cities, feel that way and were confronted with that during the pandemic.
xoN: How did sports play a role in helping you two find your voice and confidence both on and off the court?
VT: I think what people don't realize is that tennis is such a mental sport. You could be a 4.0 player and have a bad mental day, and you will play like you've never picked up a racquet before. So, the mental piece is super important. For me, it's like ‘you against you,’ even though you are playing somebody.
If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court. I had an issue on the court where I have a habit of saying, "Sorry," — I think a lot of Black women do, honestly. Then I realized that they wouldn't say sorry or they’d use my kindness as weakness. I've learned a lesson in that because everything translates on and off the court.
"If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court."
KS: It's easy for me to do things that I'm good at, but it's not easy for me to do things that I'm not good at. Tennis is still challenging for me, but it pushes me. It’s a reality check for me; I know when things are aligned, and when they're not. It feels like a big metaphor for me because it's pushing me to do something that's uncomfortable and makes me work for myself more.
xoN: What do you hope the long-term impact of Black Girl Tennis Club will be?
VS: We want to have a space for people who might be workaholics or might be going through depression. It's always great to have a hobby, whether that's knitting, sewing, or what have you. For me and Kimberly, it’s about creating hobbies for Black women and girls but also knowing that it’s okay to not be amazing at it. You don't have to be amazing at tennis; you could hit around the court, and that's okay.
The next Serena or Venus might come from Black Girls Tennis Club.
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