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6 Fascinating Ways Sex And Sleep Definitely Go Hand In Hand

Since you're going to bed tonight at some point, make sure you read this first.

Sex

Say that you were to unofficially poll all of the couples who are either married or living together about the current state of their sex life. When it comes to the ones who might say that things are currently less-than-stellar, if you asked them why that was the case, I would be close-to-floored if a roaring majority of them didn't say that it had something to do with how tired they are.


Y'all, the reason why I've written articles for this platform like "The Self-Care Bedtime Routine Every Single Woman Needs", "Yes. Married Couples Should Definitely Have A Nighttime Routine." and "These Sleep Hacks Will Make Getting A Good Night's Rest So Much Easier" is because there is no way around the fact that reportedly 50-70 million people in America aren't getting adequate rest which is highly problematic on a myriad of levels. Sleep deprivation can cause mood swings; effect concentration and performance; trigger anxiety and depression; weaken your immunity; throw your hormones off balance; reduce your metabolism; increase your chances of being diagnosed with diabetes or having a stroke or heart attack; age your skin; cause you to gain weight and, as it specifically relates to this particular article, tank your libido. What's really a trip is this is just 10 of the many reasons why getting less than 6-8 hours a sleep on a regular basis is so not good for you.

Today, though, in the hopes of motivating more long-term couples to "get it in" more often, let's look at the very intimate relationship that sex and sleep have with one another. I'll do so by hitting six reasons — three points a piece for each— why they really do work hand in hand with one another.

1. SEX Stimulates Sleep-Inducing Hormones

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I know a lot of women who get irritated if/when their partner falls asleep right after sex. If you're one of them, don't be mad at the guy — that's the way he was created. The reality is that once men ejaculate, they release a combination of chemicals and hormones — norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin, nitric oxide and prolactin. Not only do all of them help him to feel calmer but prolactin levels actually increase during sleep, period.

Besides, don't act like you don't have moments when you want to catch some immediate zzz's as well which makes total sense because sex can raise your estrogen levels which makes REM sleep so much better as well. Not only that but sex also decreases the stress hormone cortisol in the body too. If you put all of this together…if you've been having a hard time getting to sleep lately, when's the last time you had some sex? It can definitely beat any sleeping pill on the market. Hmph. If you disagree, I've got some serious questions for you.

2. SLEEP Balances Your Hormones

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Have you ever wondered why, when you're PMS'ing or on your period, if you're pregnant or if you're going through menopause, you either can't seem to fall asleep to save your life or you can't seem to get enough sleep even if you've slept for hours on end? Usually, the underlying cause is that your hormones have either spiked up or severely dropped which has put your system into a bit of a tailspin. And here's the thing — when your hormones are off, your libido oftentimes is too. Interestingly enough, many times the remedy for both issues is to get more sleep. One of the main reasons why is sleep helps to regulate your cortisol levels so that your hormones can level out. And when your hormones are good, your energy and interest in sex tend to improve, significantly so.

3. SEX Can Physically Make You Look Forward to Going to Sleep

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If you're someone who puts off going to sleep because, when your body is still, that's when you experience discomfort that you don't seem to notice otherwise, that's another reason why sex before bedtime can be really good for you. For one thing, did you know that sex is a natural pain reliever? No joke. Whenever you engage in the act, it releases endorphins that can make body aches (especially back-related ones) so much easier to bear. Also, if you're someone who constantly has your sleep disrupted because you've got to pee during all of hours of the night, sex is an act that helps to strengthen your pelvic floor so that incontinence is less of an issue. Something else to keep in mind is there are studies that link a lack of sleep to high blood pressure and guess what? Having sex can help to decrease your blood pressure; that's because oxytocin reduces stress and the less internal stress you've got going on, the greater chance your blood pressure will remain at a healthy level.

4. SLEEP Rejuvenates So That Your Libido Stays Intact

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Ah, the layers right here, boy. Let's go with men first. If you're all about having more sex and sleep but the problem is your partner struggles a bit with erectile dysfunction, a fascinating thing that sleep also does is help his system to produce more testosterone so that he's in the mood to have more sex and is physically more capable of getting and maintaining an erection.

As far as we're concerned, because sleep not only helps to balance out our hormones, it can also give us a lot more energy and make having orgasms easier to experience, sleep is also a healthy and proven way to boost/maintain our libido. In fact, I read that one study that said just one additional hour of sleep can increase a woman's chance of wanting to have sex the next day by as much as 14 percent. Hmph. As if you needed another reason to take a nap, right?

5. SEX Bonds You to Your Partner

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A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, "We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'". The gist of it was, even if you believe that you can have sex with someone and not mentally or emotionally bond to them, there's no way around the fact that you do end up physically connecting on some level. That's because oxytocin — the hormone that has the nicknaming "the love hormone" — levels increase during the act of sex. And when you feel closer to someone after copulation, that can make you feel safer and stress-free. So much that you may be all about curling up under them and falling asleep — if not for the entire night, at least for a couple of hard-snore-filled hours. Ain't nothin' like sleep after sex. Absolutely nothing, chile.

6. SLEEP Bonds You to Your Partner

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Is there anything better than spooning after a great sex session? It's hard for me to think of too many things that top it. And here's the thing — once you receive the oxytocin high that chemically bonds you to your partner, you can then get another "dose" of it by cuddling up to them as you fall asleep too (check out "Fall's Coming: 8 Wonderful Health Benefits Of Cuddling"). Not only does the oxytocin help you to get to sleep, it can also assist you in falling asleep more soundly so that you can wake up the next day in a better mood and, quite possibly, desirous of even more sex. Perhaps even some morning sex (check out "Here's How To Make Morning Sex...Sexier"). Yeah, funny how all of this works, full circle. #wink

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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