If you like to go to sleep at 9:30 pm and your partner stays up until 2:00 am, when is the best time to have mutually engaging, satisfying sex that does not involve either party stifling a yawn in the middle? Sadly, there may not be an ideal time, and a carnal calendar mismatch could be affecting your overall relationship satisfaction, according to a study from the University of Warsaw.
Since the discovery that humans are genetically predisposed to be a "morning lark", "night owl", or somewhere in between, numerous scientific studies have highlighted the importance of synchronizing our daily routine of school or work to our chronotypes. Naturally, it was only a matter of time until researchers started investigating how our ingrained circadian preferences affect the personal aspects of our lives – sex and relationships.
Writing in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, a team of Polish researchers hypothesized that couples with matching chronotypes will have more satisfying sex lives because they can engage in sexual activities at the time of day they are most receptive to it, and the most energetic. And as they cheekily note, “activities undertaken during optimal times of day are performed more efficiently.”
To put these ideas to the test, they gave individual surveys to both halves of 91 heterosexual couples, aged 18 to 38, who have been together between 6 months and 16 years. About 80 percent of the couples were childless.
The results showed that while men prefer to get lucky in the morning hours (6:00 to 9:00 am) if they are larks and in the evening (9:00 pm to midnight) if they are owls, female participants of both types preferred nighttime escapades. Somewhat unsurprisingly, they found that the timing of the couple’s sexual activity corresponded to the preferred time listed by the female, and not that of the male.
When analyzing how the data fit together, the authors confirmed that greater differences in preferred sex times were correlated with lowered levels of both sexual and overall relationship satisfaction. Given that all women reported preferring late sex, the team speculates that lark males – with their eager desire to have sex when women are, on average, simply not as interested, as awake, or both – are behind the trend of romantic disharmony.
Yet unlike previous studies, the authors did not find that discrepancies in sex-timing preferences impacted the overall amount of intercourse a couple has.
“Thus, it seems that a lack of consistency in preferred time for sex can influence the quality, as opposed to the quantity, of sexual interactions,” they wrote.
In the future, the team hopes to study couples with and without children separately, as it’s pretty well established that having them throws a very large wrench into both sex and sleep.