You should never have to choose between sleep and sex. But know this, if you get more sleep, you’re more likely to enjoy better sex.
Research done at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona revealed that a majority of women surveyed – some 60 per cent – who got at least seven to eight hours of sleep reported being more satisfied with their sex lives than those who slept less.
The majority of women in the study, 60 per cent, reported they achieved those magical seven to eight hours of sleep. So, perhaps not surprisingly, 56 per cent of the women said they were somewhat or very satisfied with their current sexual activity. Insomnia was also a cause of dissatisfaction with their sex life, the study found.
Sleep doesn’t always come easy, so here are some ways to help you drift off into slumber at night.
Save the bed for sleep and sex
This is key to keeping your mind clear on what your bed is for. If you do other things in bed like work, worry or watch TC, you get away from taht association and risk developing habits that lead to insomnia. If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep, get up after 20 minutes.
“Do not lay in bed tossing and turning because it teaches your body that the bed is a place to be awake and asleep,” Shelby Harris, Director of Behavioral Sleep Medicine at Montefiore Medical Centre, says. It’s hard to do at 2 or 3am, but get up and relocate.
“It’s one of the most effective treatments,” she says. She recommends doing something quiet and relaxing in dimlight, and stay away from light-emitting screens.
Only go to bed when you’re tired
If you wake up in the middle of the night and leave the room to do some calming activity, return to bed only when you’re sleepy. If you lay back down and still can’t sleep, get up and do it all over again.
“You have to retrain your body. The more you do it, the more the body will learn,” Harris says. This also means that you shouldn’t turn in for the night before you’re tired. Keeping to a consistent bedtime is important, but if you’re not tired, you’ll just like there awake, worsening the problem.
“Meditation isn’t standard treatment for insomnia, but we are starting to incorporate it into the bigger treatment package,” Harris says. It’s tough to power down for sleep when you’ve been in ‘go’ mode all day long.
“We think our brain has an on-off switch and it’s sadly not that way. You’ve to treat it like it’s a dimmer,” Harris mentions. The best way to shut it down slowly and close the day is through meditation.
Mindfulness exercises, like coloring or deep breathing will help you focus or wind down.” Anything is great as long as it focuses on your brain.”
Never actually try to fall asleep
Do less. Really. “If you try to force it, the more it won’t happen,” Harris advises. “All you’re doing is making your body more tense then more you think about it, and it doesn’t happen.”
If you find yourself thinking actively about trying to fall asleep, get up and go mediate or do something relaxing. Taking your mind off the task at hand will take the pressure of and help sleep come easier.
Keep to a consistent bedtime and wake time
Keeping to a regular bedtime and wake time seven days a week is important for those with chronic insomnia. “If you go to bed later and sleep in on the weekends, you’re making yourself jet-lagged by Sunday night and it will harder to sleep Sunday to Monday,” Harris says.
If you’re really tired or some reason, don’t sneak off to bed earlier than normal. Stick to your regular bed time. The only exception: If you’re not tired at all, you shouldn’t go to bed. Tossing and turning wide awake it the last thing you need.
Don’t look at your clock or phone
“If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep, don’t look at the clock,” Harris mentions. If you do, you’re likely to start thinking about how long before the alarm goes off, and that’s not going to do you any favours.
“It makes you do math and math isn’t sedating.” Your phone is a no-no too, thanks to its sleep-disrupting blue light. Resist peeking and just wait for 20 minutes to pass. Then get up until you’re tired enough to go back to bed.
This story first appeared on Singapore’s Women’s Weekly in April 2017.