Tired but Can’t Sleep? Orgasms May Be the Solution to Sleeplessness
When you think about natural sleep aids, you might imagine sipping on chamomile tea, taking a melatonin supplement or having a warm Epsom salt bath to help you wind down before drifting off to sleep.
But there is a powerful, natural sleep solution we often overlook to get better quality sleep: orgasms.
Is it normal to have problems sleeping at night?
Getting enough sleep is one of the most basic habits you can develop for your overall health. Insomnia can affect your immune system and increase your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
You already know it can also wreak havoc on your productivity levels, mental health and your mood. Anyone who’s struggled with insomnia knows, though, that falling asleep isn’t always easy. High stress levels or obstructive sleep apnea can make catching great shut-eye tricky.
An estimated 30 percent to 40 percent of adults in the United States report having symptoms of insomnia every year; almost 10 percent of people experience short-term insomnia annually, according to a 2020 report.
Surprisingly, orgasms—achieved through partnered sex or masturbation—might provide an effective solution to sleeplessness. If you're one of the many people who struggle to fall asleep at night, here's why you should consider making orgasms an occasional part of your night-time routine.
Do orgasms help you sleep?
Can sexual activity with orgasm improve how well you sleep? One study published in Frontiers in Public Health looked at whether sex could improve sleep quality.
Roughly 54.1 percent of participants claimed they slept better, while 47.4 percent reported falling asleep faster. Similarly, 70.8 percent of participants reported sleeping better after orgasming with a partner, while 62.5 percent reported falling asleep faster in the 2019 study.
Most people perceive that orgasms—whether through partnered sex or masturbation—improve sleep, according to a 2023 study that asked college students to keep a sleep diary.
But why do people believe that orgasms improve sleep?
"We know orgasms can help relieve stress, which can also help us have a better night’s sleep," said sex therapist Rachel Wright, M.A., L.M.F.T., a licensed psychotherapist and sex educator in New York City. "There is a huge emotional release for many folks after orgasm."
Orgasms can be cathartic on a physical level, too, as they cause our muscles to release tension.
Orgasming can release healthy levels of hormones that can calm your body, getting you ready for sleep, Wright said.
The feel-good hormones that may help you relax before sleep include the following:
- Dopamine, a "happiness hormone" associated with reward and pleasure
- Prolactin, which can induce rapid eye movement (REM) sleep
- Endorphins, which can lift your mood, induce relaxation and act as a natural pain reliever
- Oxytocin, which can reduce stress and decrease levels of cortisol (the stress hormone)
- Serotonin, which plays a major role in producing melatonin and regulating the sleep-wake cycle
Together, these hormones can induce relaxation. Once relaxed, you might find it easier to finally get some sleep.
This isn’t to say that you should feel pressured to orgasm in order to get more sleep. There are many routes to addressing insomnia, and if sex is a route you think you might like, go ahead and explore it.
If you don’t want to try that, though, you can try one or more of many sleep hygiene habits, supplements and exercises to ensure you get some high-quality rest.
How can you integrate orgasms into your bedtime routine?
For many people, orgasming before bed is like closing your eyes and falling asleep—both are easier said than done.
It doesn’t help that sexual dysfunction and sleep issues go hand in hand. If you struggle with sleeplessness, sex might be the last thing on your mind when you’re anxious about falling asleep.
Similarly, sexual difficulties can ensure bedtime is fraught with anxiety.
The same issues that might contribute to your insomnia or problems staying asleep can also lower your libido. Anxious overthinking, getting sucked into your phone late at night, and an erratic sleep schedule can kill your appetite for sleep and sex.
Fortunately, a few changes to your bedtime routine may be more conducive to orgasms and sleep.
Make your room cozier
Make your bedroom more comfortable—for sex and sleep.
A bedroom environment is totally subjective, Wright said. There are no rules for how to make your bedroom feel more sexy. It's all up to you.
"For some people, being able to put porn or a sexy show on the TV will help create a fun, sexy environment for sexual activity and then sleep," Wright said. "And for others, a TV will be the thing that keeps you from having sexual activity and a good night's sleep.
"So my advice here would be to start to figure out for yourself what helps create an environment where you feel relaxed, comfortable and ready to just be."
A comfortable bedroom could include:
- Bedding you enjoy
- A quiet, dark environment
- A tidy and organized room
- Essentials—water, tissues or medication—that are close at hand
Experiment with your environment. A dark bedroom is generally conducive to sleep, but you might find you prefer using a nightlight.
Some people find it helpful to have an easy-to-access box or drawer filled with whatever they might need for sex, such as condoms, lubricant, toys, tissues or hand wipes. At the end of a long day, the thought of rolling out of bed to get the lube might have you groaning and saying, "Never mind."
Have a routine
A routine can help you relax a little easier. Having a bedtime routine is conducive to better sleep and better sex, Wright said.
Experiment with your routine and then practice it. Just don't forget to pencil in sexy time. If you want to incorporate sexual activity solo or with a partner, you'll need to begin your routine with that timeline in mind.
Mindfulness is often prescribed for insomnia, but you can also use it to enhance your sexual experience.
Ironically, putting too much pressure on yourself to orgasm can make sex less pleasurable. Instead of seeing orgasms as the ultimate goal of sex, aim to enjoy yourself. When your goal is to have fun, it’s easier to savor the pleasurable sensations that come with sex, whether they lead to orgasm or not.
Touch can be relaxing in itself. People sleep better after tactile intimacy, including touching a partner, self-touch and nonsexual touch, regardless of whether they had orgasms or not, a 2021 review suggested.
And if you find your mind ruminating on external issues—chores, work stress or money troubles—try to gently bring your mind back to the present. Our worries often catch up with us. Many of us ruminate on our stressors, even when we’d much rather be enjoying ourselves (or our partners).
The bottom line
There’s no use worrying about the past or the future.
Right now, your job is to be present and enjoy the moment. Pay mindful attention to the sensations you’re experiencing, whether it’s the pleasure of an orgasm, the feeling of your partner’s hands against your skin or the sensation of slowly drifting off to sleep.