Written by: Lisa Charles, Executive Contributor at Brainz Magazine.
Did you know there’s a direct correlation between having a great night’s sleep and having a great sex life? Sleep affects the functionality and health of every organ and every system within our body. Similarly, having an active sex life is extremely important to enhancing our health, directly influencing our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Essentially, when sex and sleep are combined, it creates a “win-win” health situation!
In the aftermath of the pandemic, where isolation, sleep deprivation, anxiety, and depression ran rampant, it is time to enhance the bonds that bring us together. It is time to enrich our understanding of how sleep and sex reduce stress and foster closeness and intimacy while improving our body’s overall health and wellness.
The Power of Sleep
The power of sleep lies within its unique four (4) stages, each designed to impact how our
bodies operate. Sleep affects every body function, whether through bone and muscle growth, cellular renewal, elimination of toxins or waste products, or building the necessary neuron connections to enhance long-term memories. Sleep helps us operate more efficiently, preparing us to meet daily challenges.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults experience 7 to 9 hours of sleep each evening. Poor sleep brings weight gain, a weakened immune system, increased inflammation, depression, anxiety, mood swings, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke,
diabetes, dementia, and some cancers, and that list is not exhaustive.
Sleep affects our physical, mental, and emotional well-being, yet a third of all Americans don’t
reach the 7–9 hours sleep requirement. We need sleep to regulate our circadian rhythm — our
sleep /wake cycle, a process that allows the body to function at its base level. We need
restorative sleep to allow our bodies to experience homeostasis – that balance of all the body’s systems. When we deprive ourselves of the gift of sleep, we travel the road toward medical
maladies, impaired memory, and heightened stress levels.
The Sleep Stages
There are (4) stages and two types of sleep that occur in 90-minute cycles. Stages (1), (2), and (3) are Non-Rapid EYE MOVEMENT (NREM) and encompass about 85% of the total nighttime sleep, while stage (4), referred to as Rapid Eye Movement (REM) includes the remaining 15%.
During the early stages of sleep (1&2), your heart rate and respiratory systems slow, and your body temperature drops as your body begins to enter a state of deep relaxation. By stage (3), your heart rate, respiratory system, and muscles relax even more. Your brain waves show a clear pattern of slowed activity that is different from the waking brain. You begin the recuperation process that ignites practical/clear thinking and enhanced long-term memory.
Stage (4) (REM) continues the body’s recuperative process. While experiencing rapid eye
movement, your heart rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure increase, and your brain enters a waking state. During this reparative process, your muscles and bones grow, the immune system strengthens, and your body eliminates cellular waste, decreasing fat-producing
(ghrelin) and stress-enhancing (cortisol) hormones.
Suppose you skip the vital stages (3) and (4) or fail to stay within those healing zones long
enough to allow your body’s reparative process to take hold. In that case, you miss your pathway to better long-term health and overall disease prevention.
The Power of Sex
An active sex life can lower your blood pressure, increase the effectiveness of your immune system, and trigger the release of endorphins that help to reduce stress and anxiety. A healthy sex life also contributes to cardiovascular and immune health and can improve mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Like sleep, various models outline (4) stages of sex. One model defines the stages as follows:
The Desire stage, which can last a few minutes or hours, is generally characterized by increased muscle tension, a rapid heart and respiratory rate, increased blood flow to the sexual organs and flushed skin, perhaps in the chest and back. Since we are individuals, this phase can vary in experience and intensity. The Arousal stage intensifies all the elements of the Desire phase while the body moves to the brink of orgasm.
Along with involuntary muscle spasms and increased blood pressure, heart, and respiratory rates, muscle spasms lead to a forceful release of sexual tension. The Orgasm stage is the climax of the sexual response and represents the shortest phase, lasting only a few seconds within the sex cycle. This phase precedes the Resolution stage, where the body returns to its normal function.
By experiencing the (4) stages of sex, you will ignite your physical, emotional, and mental connection while improving your overall health. Be prepared to experience glowing skin and reduced stress.
The Power of Sleep and the Power of Sex Unite
Since great sex and restorative sleep in isolation can have many health benefits, it stands to reason that giving attention to both create an enhanced pathway to increased cellular health and healing. The ability to experience better heart and brain health and a more robust immune system is powerful!
So how does sex improve sleep, and how does sleep enhance sex?
The Orgasm Affect
After an orgasm, the body releases oxytocin and prolactin, hormones that foster pleasant and relaxing feelings. For women, sex also boosts estrogen levels enhancing their REM stage of sleep. These hormonal changes cause feelings of drowsiness, making it easier to not only fall asleep but to achieve more profound levels of sleep. By getting enough sleep, the body will generate enough energy and stamina to regulate hormones preparing it for further sexual activity. Sleeping just one hour or more per night makes that individual more likely to engage in sex with their partner the next day. Sleep deprivation may increase dissatisfaction and lack of interest in sex.
The Healing Affect
Sex can heal individuals experiencing pain at levels that interfere with their ability to sleep through the night Sex is a natural pain reliever. When you experience an orgasm, your body releases endorphins or pain-relieving hormones. Those endorphins, like opiate drugs, are produced in the brain and released by the body in response to pain, and they are natural painkillers.
Additionally, sex can reduce stress and help people with insomnia fall asleep. A study by the University of Ottawa concluded that sex is a “possible alternative or addition to other intervention strategies for insomnia .”Once you successfully achieve that 7 – 9-hour healthy sleep, you will feel refreshed and well rested, with a positive mood and high energy levels that will directly or indirectly improve other areas of your life. These improvements will impact sexual activity. Further, a 2015 study found that the longer people slept, the more interested they were in sex the following day. Conversely, women who slept less than 7 to 8 hours per night were less likely to be sexually active or sexually satisfied.
Sex and sleep are inextricably intertwined, and they are both powerful health and healing tools. It is time to take a closer look at how we nourish our bodies from the top – down. It is time to strengthen our health through the magic of sleep and the richness of sex.