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Let’s Talk About Sex… and Sleep

Teresa Power DeNike, BS, CCSH

You’ve heard that sex can help you sleep, but did you know that sleep can help you sex? To make improvements in our sleepy sex lives, we must first identify the problems — starting with snoring. 


Snoring and disrupted sleep: dampers on your love life

People who sleep with a snoring partner lose — on average — a full hour of sleep each night. They also spend most of their time in the lighter stages of sleep, which means they will wake up feeling less refreshed. This is assuming that the partner hasn’t already begun sleeping in a second room of the house because of these disturbances. Sleep Divorce is common, and sleep issues have been cited as the third most common reason for divorce! Not exactly the most romantic situation… 

Snoring isn’t just annoying and disruptive to our partners. Untreated snoring and/or obstructive sleep apnea can also decrease your oxygen levels and impact production and release of hormones, like testosterone. 

We know that testosterone is a sex hormone in men, but it’s also present in women and other genders in varying levels. Testosterone is mostly produced overnight, reaching its peak in the early morning. Healthy sleep directly impacts this process. 

One study showed that generally healthy, young men who slept less than 5 hours had testosterone levels similar to that of men 10-15 years their senior! Possibly related to the disruption of hormones and proper blood flow, numerous studies report the majority of (cis) men who have sleep apnea ALSO have erectile dysfunction (ED). The percentages vary per study — possibly upwards of 91 percent — but the correlation is always significant.

The great news? Sleep apnea isn’t difficult to diagnose, and there are a few different treatment options. The most common are custom-fitted dental devices (OAT), or a mask with airflow (CPAP). The sooner you get treated, the sooner your snoring will stop. Treatment can improve your sleep quality, ED, and get your partner back in bed with you. Start by asking your doctor about a sleep test. 


It's not JUST about snoring and ED. Poor quality sleep puts you in a mood — but not in THE mood. This can especially affect women.  

After a rough night, people feel groggy, slow, and generally unsatisfied. Under-slept people experience irritability and an altered appetite thanks to the increase in cortisol (aka the "stress hormone"). Women experience insomnia twice as often as men. They experience fluctuations in sex hormones throughout different life stages, are more likely to tend to young children overnight, and have increased report of anxiety — all of which contributes to the increased prevalence of insomnia. 

All that considered, is it really a surprise to anyone that sleepy women aren’t interested in intimacy?! Underslept women are 2-times as likely to report lack of sexual desire or arousal. 

So, what happens when we improve our sleep? In this study, longer sleep time was related to “greater next-day sexual desire.” When participants added an extra hour of sleep, they were 14 percent more likely to… you know… the next day.  


Quality sleep generally improves mood, happiness, and lessens our sensitivity to negative emotions. Now, that’s sexy.  

Again, the best way to get treatment is to speak to a doctor about a sleep test, and/or your sleep coach for guidance. If you speak to either of these people and you don't feel like they're taking you seriously — TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE. Exhaustion is not a prerequisite to being an adult human, and sleep disorders are highly treatable. 

As a sleep coach, I get it...you’re busy. You have children. A job. 5 million things on your to-do list. So, let’s be realistic in your sleep goals. We can focus on improving the sleep you're getting — work on your schedule, your priorities, your mindset and your basic nutrition. We can rule out other health conditions hindering your sleep (or recommend a physician for evaluation). Just imagine how much better you could sleep.

And imagine how much better the sex would be… 

Sorry, Mom. 

Teresa Power DeNike, BS, CCSH, is the founder of SleepBetterNYC. We can’t thank her enough for allowing us to repost this amazing blog. Please check out her website to learn more about her amazing expertise and passion for all things sleep.

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