Does Sex Wake You Up or Make You Sleepy?

Men have long been accused of falling asleep right after sex. Finish up the good stuff, and he’s rolling over and off to Snooze Land.

But is that really true?Does Sex Wake You Up or Make You Sleepy?It could be. Research is still trying to figure out who falls asleep after sex and why. But some evidence indicates that men might fall asleep quickly because they need a refractory period post-climax; several body chemicals released during orgasm — prolactin, vasopressin, oxytocin, and serotonin — are linked to sleepiness; and the prefrontal cortex, the information-processing and planning part of the brain, reduces in activity after sex. There’s also just the reality that men tend to do more of the “heavy lifting” in sex — all that thrusting, you know — which can wear a guy out.

But some of these factors exist with women too, particularly the body chemicals. In fact, one study showed no difference in how quickly men and women fall asleep post-intercourse.

What brought this topic up to my mind is that I’m almost never sleepy after sex. If anything, I get a burst of energy. I don’t know how many times I’ve lain down for a weekend nap, then my husband shows up and we have sex, and my nap time is just over. No way am I getting back to sleep.

Women don’t have the same refractory period as men, which is quite nice if you’re able to take advantage of that with multiple orgasms, but that may mean that you’re not quite so depleted post-climax. If you don’t climax, that exercise might just wake up your body rather than fatigue you. Also, blood flow increases after orgasm, which might stimulate your body. Finally, in my case and others, a case of the munchies can set in with you feeling hungry afterward.

Whether sex makes you sleepy or more energetic, the issue oftentimes is coordinating this with your mate. Who might not — okay, probably doesn’t — react the same way you do in the afterglow. He might want to talk and cuddle, while you want to raid your secret drawer of dark chocolate or skip the talking and just melt into the mattress. He might fall asleep immediately, making you feel neglected and even abandoned just as soon as the physical release is done.

Rarely are our reactions personal. They’re a function of our bodies experiencing different sensations and chemicals during intercourse and orgasm.

Your best way of dealing with the differences is to talk it out. If having sex right at bedtime gives you a boost of energy you don’t need, ask your hubby if you can make love a little earlier in the day or even in the morning. If he’s falling asleep immediately after and you need more cuddle time, ask for a few minutes of pillow talk before he succumbs. (But then stick to your few minutes, so you both get what you need.) If you’re the one who wants to head to Dream World right after sex, let him know that’s how your body feels and then see what he needs that you can provide before you drift off completely.

One personal example is that my husband has shown up at nap time wanting sex, and, while I usually oblige, I have asked for a rain check if I’m beyond fatigued and desperately need the rest. Then we curl up in each other’s arms and fall asleep, and I wake up later feeling refreshed enough to make good on that promise.

What about you? Does sex make you sleepy or wake you up? And how do you and your spouse differ?

Sources: No Sleepless Nights: Why Do Men Fall Asleep After Sex?; Live Science: Why Do Guys Get Sleepy After Sex?; Shape: Your Brain On an Orgasm

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12 thoughts on “Does Sex Wake You Up or Make You Sleepy?

  1. R

    So ironic that your post showed up in my FB feed this morning! (I’m in Australia)
    My husband and I have not had much sex this year, and last night I decided it was time to initiate. It was pretty late, but I did anyway, thinking it would probably help relax me anyway and I’d fall asleep quickly afterwards.
    After a good time together, I tried to sleep… But alas, it evaded me! Haha… I was so frustrated, thinking, “I’m sure I’ve read that sex helps people relax/sleep!”
    So I got up, had a cuppa tea, put a loaf of bread on, did some colouring and watched the Olympics. 2 hours later I was ready to sleep, and I did fall asleep straight away.
    For me this time, I think I was woken up by all the good feelings, rather than relaxed – because it hadn’t felt good in some time.
    Goes to show it can go both ways!
    Thanks for sharing 🙂 xo

    Reply
  2. Jason@SongSix3

    More often than not, it’s me who’s wide awake afterward. But as virtually all our times of togetherness take place late at night at bedtime, I must force my brain to shut down. I am definitely a cuddler, so I enjoy the time spent after just wrapped up in each other’s arms.

    Reply
  3. anonymous

    My husband definitely has more energy than me after sex, 90% of the time, we go for round #2, after cuddling for 15 minutes or so:))

    Reply
  4. Allie

    I’m curious J, is there anything in particular you crave eating after sex? I often get the munchies too, and I crave one of two things, sometimes both. One is fruit: preferably in some whole variety, like an apple, orange, whatever. If that’s not on hand, then fruit juice will work in a pinch. I also want protein: meat, dairy, etc. We’ve actually bought these small beef sticks, that are good to munch when the protein craving hits, and keep more fruit around the house. Sometimes an apple with some cheese cubes hits the spot. So I’m curious, what do other women crave, if they get munchies like you talked about? I sometimes wonder why my body craves these particular food groups after sex.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Interesting. But I’m a sweets girl afterward. You could hand me a chocolate sundae or some carrot cake, and I’d devour. Not sure why.

      Reply
  5. Reiko

    If I don’t O, which has been the case nearly every time we’ve been together, I’m wired afterward and can’t sleep. After an O, though, I’m relaxed and prefer at least a little nap usually.

    Reply

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