If you find that you and your significant other often have sex before going to bed, now there's a new bonus for doing so — sex before bed may help you sleep, a new survey finds. It found that two thirds of people sleep better after sex — at least among the 460 people between 19 and 70 years old in the survey. The "Are you getting enough: Sex as Sleep Therapy" survey was conducted by Michele Lastella, Ph.D., a sleep researcher at Central Queensland University's Appleton Institute for Behavioral Science in Adelaide, Australia. And the key to sleeping better? Both partners having orgasms, which results in the release of oxytocin. So forget taking sleeping pills when having sex can achieve virtually the same result — and in a way more fun way.
"Oxytocin is the culprit for improved sleep," Dr. Michael Krychman, MD, OB/GYN, sexual medicine gynecologist and the executive director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine and co-author of The Sexual Spark: 20 Essential Exercises to Reignite the Passion, tells Bustle. "It has many wonderful properties, including acting like a natural euphoric substance. Sexual activity itself increases oxytocin and natural brain endorphins or pain killers. It is released in surges after orgasm, and triggers the pleasure centers in the brain, promoting a sense of pleasure and calmness. In addition, oxytocin can promote coupling, pair bonding, and social connectedness. Oxytocin is 'the love hormone,' and allows us the ability to nurture and connect."
How Oxytocin Helps Promote Sleep
Like Dr. Krychman says, oxytocin helps promote calmness, and Dr. Lastella agrees. "The project is based on some preliminary research evidence that, after humans have sex and achieve orgasm, we have a massive release of a hormone called oxytocin," Dr. Lastella said. "This hormone among many other feel-good hormones has been said to act as a sedative to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep."
All this talk about the magical sex /sleep hormone may have you wondering about the health benefits of oxytocin, and there are several.
1Oxytocin Helps Bond You To Another Person
Like Dr. Krychman says, oxytocin is known as "the love hormone," and that's because of its bonding power. According to Psychology Today, the hormone acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain, so it helps with everything from maternal-infant bonding to connections in romantic relationships. For instance, oxytocin levels go up when you hug or kiss someone, so it makes sense that you then feel closer to and bond with them.
2Oxytocin Is A Chemical Messenger
Studies have shown that oxytocin is an important chemical messenger, states the Hormone Health Network. As such, it helps control some human behaviors and social interaction.
3Oxytocin Helps Reduce Stress
According to LiveScience, research has been done by the Society for Neuroscience that showed yet another health benefit of oxytocin: that is helps reduce stress. Prairie voles weer separated from their siblings, and then showed signs of anxiety, stress, and depression… until they were injected with oxytocin. Fascinating!
4Oxytocin Helps Increase Self-Confidence
As a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain, oxytocin levels can also help your self-esteem. In other words, as the hormone makes you feel more connected to others, your self-confidence may go up, too.
5Oxytocin Is Not Just Good For The Brain, But Also For The Body
According to Body Ecology, oxytocin is good for the body, too, and helps it heal on a physical level. For instance, it can help lower blood pressure, reduce levels of cortisol in the body, and help improve gut motility while decreasing intestinal inflammation.
Just to recap, more sex for better sleep? Yes, please! On a related note, you may hear about people having insomnia as a result of spending time on their phones right before bed, and Dr. Lastella agrees. Instead, he suggests replacing your phone with sex. "There's strong evidence to suggest substituting screen time for play time," he told The Advertiser. "When you're engaging in sex, you're not thinking about what to do the next day, you're not going through your phones. It distracts you."
I think many of us can get on board with Dr. Lastella's suggestion and replace pre-bedtime screen time with sex time. After all, it's for a good cause — your health. Best. Reason. Ever!