A bed is good for two things: sleep and sex (although both activities have been known to occur in other places too, according to some sources). Perhaps it’s no surprise the bedroom is the go-to location for these two staples of human activity: sex and sleep are deeply connected.
A new study suggests that poor quality sleep may lead to problems in the bedroom, namely in regards to female sexual dysfunction.
Scientists at the Mayo Clinic asked over 3,400 women in the US about their sleep patterns and sexual behavior through the Female Sexual Function Index, a 19-point self-report that investigates things such as sexual desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain during sex. The study was published in the journal Menopause this week.
Their findings revealed that those that slept poorly had a heightened chance of an unhappy sex life. Of the women who reported sleeping less than 5 hours each night, 63.3 percent had some level of female sexual dysfunction, while their Female Sexual Function Index scores were significantly lower than women sleeping 7 or more hours nightly. Paired with this sexually active women were more likely to report good sleep quality compared with women who were sexually inactive.
"This study highlights an association between poor sleep quality and sexual dysfunction. These are two common issues for midlife women and asking about and addressing each may contribute to improved quality of life," Dr Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director and senior author of the study, said in a statement [PDF].
The researchers didn’t specifically look to explain this link between happy sex life and a good night’s sleep; they found a correlation, not causation. Furthermore, the study has a number of limitations that should be taken into consideration, namely the fact its participants were predominantly white, educated, and in a relationship, so the findings might not necessarily be representative of the whole population. Equally, the study didn't mention the sexuality of its participants.
However, the findings of this latest research perhaps aren’t too sleeping. Many aspects of well-being and health are deeply intertwined with the quality of sleep we indulge in each day, with other studies associating a lack of sleep with depression, neurodegeneration, and Alzheimer’s, to name but a few health conditions.
Additional studies have found that poor sleep can also have its toll on male sexual function too. One study from 2011 found that a lack of sleep among young healthy men resulted in decreased levels of testosterone, the hormone responsible for much of our sex drive. Another study found that men with sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts, were more likely to have erectile dysfunction and an overall decrease in sexual functioning.
A happy sex life is no doubt a complex issue, varying from person-to-person and relationship-to-relationship, associated with everything from your wider health and wellbeing to personal choices and lifestyle. Nevertheless, if you're looking to give your sex life a subtle nudge, a good night's sleep might be a good place to start.