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?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?