Experts say while there isn’t enough solid clinical proof to suggest that sex makes you sleepy, the basic underlying mechanics of the chemicals released during sex may help one sleep better.
Among other things, it has a lot to do with the hormone oxytocin, nicknamed “the love hormone.”
Dr. Amer Khan, a Sutter Health neurologist, sleep specialist, and founder of Sehatu Sleep in Northern California, says the release of oxytocin has been stated to occur in conjunction with feelings of affection and affectionate or sensual touch, leading to a feeling of pleasant well-being and relief from stress.
“Other hormones, such as dopamine, prolactin, and progesterone, have been implicated in affecting the mind with a sense of relief, relaxation, and sleepiness following the act of satisfactory sex,” Kahn told Healthline.
But everyone is different, so these chemicals shuffling through your brain right at bedtime may be stimulating and wake-promoting or sleep-inducing, Khan said.
“After all the considerations, it seems reasonable to say that a mutually satisfying physical and mental interaction before sleep enhances mood, feelings of well-being, releases stress, and makes it easier to switch off the busy mind to go to sleep and stay asleep,” he said. “If a satisfying sexual orgasm after an exciting foreplay is a part of that interaction, it is also likely to lead to better sleep.”
A 2016 review of research done at the University of Ottawa suggests engaging in sexual intercourse before sleep can decrease stress and possibly help insomniacs initiate and maintain their sleep, making it a “possible alternative or addition to other intervention strategies for insomnia.”
Still, Khan warns, more large-scale studies are needed to explore the subject in more detail. Either way, he says, there’s more than one way to connect with your partner that can put your mind at ease before bedtime.
“As a sleep physician, I would advise people to enjoy their time together,” Khan said. “Physical, emotional, and mental togetherness is more important than focusing on the need to have an orgasm before sleep.”
Then again, some research suggests a good orgasm doesn’t hurt when trying to get better sleep.
A 2017 study out of CQUniversity in Adelaide, Australia found that more than 60 percent of 282 adults studied reported having slept better after having sex that led to climax.
Chris Brantner, a certified sleep science coach at SleepZoo, said women also experience increased estrogen levels after sex, which can enhance REM sleep — the truly regenerative kind — while men get a surge of prolactin, which causes a feeling of fatigue.
“However, like most things involving sleep, there’s a deeper relationship here,” Brantner told Healthline. “Because not only does having sleep help you get to sleep, but getting good sleep helps you have more sex.”
To help increase your libido, Brantner recommends the full seven to eight hours of sleep a night.
“Lack of sleep throws your hormones out of whack and decreases testosterone, which is crucial for both male and female sex drive,” he said. “Sleep deprivation also has a negative impact on your energy levels and mood, which both will make you less likely to want to have sex.”
But what about those without a partner to help release those love hormones?