Why Sleep is So Important for Sex

Posted by Tyler Britton on Aug 27, 2019 9:18:44 AM

Why sleep is so important for sex - Anchorage Sleep Center

How Sleep Deprivation Affects Sex

Sleep deprivation can greatly affect a male’s sexual drive. Specifically, it can quickly result in Erectile Dysfunction (ED). The fact that sleep deprivation can cause ED is usually quite shocking, and may be good news for men who are suffering with ED but don’t know why.

Sleep deprivation can cause ED in all of the following ways:

  • Reduce your sex drive (reduced libido)
  • Make you unable to get an erection
  • Make you unable to maintain an erection

Sleep deprivation results from getting less than optimal sleep amounts, which for adults, is 7-9 hours per day. A couple nights of sleep deprivation is not likely to cause ED, though you may feel decreased libido in that time period.

However, chronic sleep deprivation, such as sleep deprivation caused by sleep disorders, is more likely to result in erectile dysfunction.

What Factor of Sex Does Sleep Deprivation Affect

Sleep deprivation causes of contributes to sleep deprivation because it inhibits three things:

Let’s look at these factors closer

How Sleep Deprivation Contributes to ED

Low testosterone may cause ED. The following factors may also contribute:

  • Dopamine uptake
  • Cortisol

Dopamine is a hormone that is a necessary component for men to feel sexual desire and can also contribute to ED in the following ways:

  • Dopamine plays an important role in the process of getting an erection
  • Dopamine receptors are responsible for dopamine uptake
  • Sleep is of paramount importance for ensuring that dopamine receptors are healthy and functioning
  • Sleep deprivation inhibits proper dopamine receptors and in consequence dopamine uptake is less

The other hormone, cortisol, is a “stress hormone” that also increases during sleep deprivation and can impact testosterone and stress level, which in turn may also impact sex drive and performance.

ED Caused by Low Testosterone from Sleep Deprivation

Sleep is important for sex drive because testosterone is mostly produced when you sleep. Testosterone is a hormone that is absolutely essential for having a strong libido, as well as for general sexual health and erectile function.


Sleep is also important for a number of (i.e., ALL) other areas of health

Testosterone levels normally peak in the morning and are lowest at night before bed. In other words, sleep is like filling up your testosterone gas tank to be used throughout the day. With diminished levels of testosterone, a man will experience reduced sexual desire and sexual performance.

Statistics about Sex Drive and Sleep Deprivation

A recent study highlighted the importance of sleep for sexual function. The study focused on 207 men who had mild to severe sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition that causes repeated cessations in breathing which requires awakening to begin breathing again.  It often leads to moderate to severe sleep deprivation. The findings of the study are statistics are:

  • 61% of men in the study suffered from ED
  • 72% of men with severe sleep apnea has ED
  • Persons with severe sleep apnea had significantly lower testosterone levels than men with mild sleep apnea

Other studies have been remarkably consistent with their findings:

  • Several other studies citing the ED sleep apnea link at 40%, 46%, 61% (referenced above), 64%, and 69%
  • Another study found that in 531 men, patients who slept 4 hours or less had half as much testosterone as patients who sleep 8+ hours.

How to Get Libido Back

If you are sleep deprived, it means you have a sleep debt that you need to “pay back”. Unfortunately, you cannot just pay your debt back in a lump sum. Sleep studies show that getting one or two long nights of sleep do not remove the effects of sleep deprivation. You might feel good for the hours proceeding a long night of rest, but the effects of sleep deprivation will persist.

The actual way you repay your sleep debt is by establishing a healthy pattern of sleep over time with consistent, restful sleep until the effects of sleep deprivation are gone. If you are dealing with sleep deprivation and ED, repaying your sleep debt may solve your problem.

Sleep disorders may cause you to be unable to repay your sleep debt and remain chronically sleep deprived. For more information or to receive help from our sleep health professionals, please click the orange button below to take a free online sleep test. 

Take a Free Online Sleep Test

Topics: Sexual Health

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