As bedtime approaches, a question may plague some couples: Should they have sex, or go straight to sleep due to exhaustion? Maybe a quickie in the morning is a better option, but will it impact the time you need to get to work?
To find out more, we queried over 1,000 adults currently in a relationship to see if they valued sleep or sex more and how their sexual activity (or lack thereof) related to other aspects of their life.
First, we asked our respondents if they preferred sex or sleep. Overall, participants would prefer sleep to sex, with a few notable exceptions. Mainly, nearly 60 percent of men would take a romp in the hay instead of sleep, while around 76 percent of women would rather sleep than get busy.
When we broke it down by relationship status, there was an even bigger gender divide. While women who were in a relationship preferred sleep to sex (over 68 percent), there were even more married women who preferred snoozing (81 percent).
We also delved into sexual orientation. People who considered themselves straight preferred sleep over sex at a 60.1 percent rate, while people identifying as bisexual were a little more divided, with 64 percent saying they prefer slumbering to having sex. People identifying as gay, though, were more split on this matter, with almost 55 percent saying sleep was more of a priority than sex.
On a Schedule
Is it ever really too late to get busy between the sheets? When, really, is the ideal time for a good romp? We queried our respondents to find out when their ideal hour was for sexual relations, and most chose the late evening hours, with 10 p.m. getting the most overall votes (almost 22 percent of our respondents chose this time). Almost as popular was 9 p.m. (nearly 20 percent), followed by 8 p.m. (over 12 percent).
This is not a huge surprise. While not everyone works a standard 9-to-5 job, most people don’t clock in on the weekends, and many businesses often close by 5 or 6 p.m. This means that most adults are at home during the evenings and probably turn in before midnight (well, they do if they hope to get the recommended hours of sleep each day). So it makes sense that once couples go to bed, their thoughts might turn to something a little more risque.
On that same note, we wanted to see at what point it would be “too late” for sex. For most people there was agreement – it was never too late for sex. There were a few disparities between the sexes. Almost 20 percent of men had a cutoff time of 1 a.m., while women were more equally divided – around 15 percent said that 11 p.m., 12 a.m., or 1 a.m. or later would be too late.
The numbers were a bit different by relationship status. Among those who have an absolute time threshold for sexual activity, many (almost 21 percent) agreed that midnight would be too late, and those who are married maxed out at 10 p.m. Far fewer people in each category selected 1 a.m. or later.
Having Sex to Sleep
Here, we asked our respondents if having sex before bed improved their sleep. For both men and women, the majority said yes – 70.6 percent of men and 63 percent of women said it definitely provided better sleep quality. It turns out that a solid romp can also help people fall asleep faster (at least according to 74.2 percent of men and 65.8 percent of women). This echoes what science tells us. Sex is a great stress-reliever and releases hormones that help you feel relaxed and sleepy, and for women, it increases estrogen levels, which can improve REM (deep) sleep.
While 10.5 percent of our participants said they never had morning sex before work, around 18 percent said morning sex had made them late to work (but almost 71 percent reported it hadn’t).
Also, it turns out that sex in the morning might make a person more productive – at least it did for about 49 percent of our respondents who did engage in morning sex before work. While another 41 percent said it didn’t make a difference, almost 9 percent said it made them feel less productive (possibly because of the reasons listed above as to why sex makes you sleep better – it’s relaxing and improves sleep quality).
Pencil This In
Sex can be on the spur of the moment, but for many adults who have responsibilities and schedules they must stick to, sex may be another activity they just have to pencil in. Most people who are sexually satisfied with their relationship (over 98 percent) said they had scheduled time for sex. It was similar for those who aren’t sexually satisfied – a large percentage did schedule sex, but it was a little lower than the satisfied folks (96.1 percent).
Finally, we checked to see how far in advance people scheduled sex. The most common answer, chosen by over 71 percent of respondents who did engage in morning sex before work, was within a day. Fewer selected one to two days (nearly 22 percent) and far fewer made plans further out than that.
What Stands In Your Way?
Not everyone is in the mood for sex at the same time as their partner, and there are common factors that can stand in the way of a sleep-inducing romp. Around 40 percent of men reported turning down sex because they were tired, and over 59 percent of women had done the same thing.
We then asked if they’d ever faked being tired to get out of sex. Women were more likely than men to admit this (over 51 percent of men said they’d never done this, while less than 32 percent of women could echo the claim).
We also checked to see if there was a difference between those in a relationship and those married. There was, but only slight – around 3 percentage points more people in a relationship faked fatigue than their married counterparts.
Have More Sex and Sleep Better
Our respondents showed there is a relationship between sex and sleep. Often, it’s a positive one (that is, having sex leads to better sleep), but sometimes (OK, rarely), it can get in the way of a productive day at work.
Science says that if you’re too tired for sex, you might try having sex more often, which can, in turn, lead to better sleep. The good news is that this can whet your appetite for more sex, resulting in a nice sex-sleep cycle that will keep you in stellar health.
We collected responses from 1,015 people on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. To qualify to take the survey, respondents needed to note their relationship status as “in a relationship,” “married,” or “engaged.” In addition, they were required to say they had been sexually active at some point in the last six months.
55.6 percent of respondents identified as male, and 44.4 percent of respondents identified as female. 37.6 percent of respondents identified as “in a relationship,” 59.1 percent as “married,” and 3.3 percent as “engaged.” 87.7 percent identified their sexual preference as straight, 8.4 percent as bisexual, 3.3 percent as gay, and 0.6 percent as a preference not listed on our survey.
A question that checked if the respondent was paying attention was asked halfway through the survey. If the respondent got it wrong, they were disqualified from the survey.
Fair Use Statement
Having sex before you go to sleep is a smart thing to do. Our study shows that. Do you know what else is smart? Sharing this research with your friends or readers so that they can get a better night’s rest too. All we request is that it’s for noncommercial purposes and that you include a link back to this page. Sleep on it.