Sleep is not a luxury. It’s a necessity not only for general well-being but for health because it gives all of your body systems time to repair and grow, especially your immune system. Since your entire mind-body connection runs on sleep, it’s as essential as vitamins and other nutrients.
Table of Contents
The sleep process is composed of repeating cycles of stages, varying among people at different times depending on multiple factors. Analysis of sleep quality explores these attributes:
- Onset: how long do you need to fall asleep?
- Time: how long do you stay asleep?
- Depth: how long does your brain stay in Stage III, the NREM (non-Rapid-Eye-Movement) stage characterized by Delta waves? This is the deepest and most restorative stage.
- REM: how long does Stage IV last, when your body is paralyzed as your mind actively dreams?
- Efficiency: what is the effectiveness and soundness of your sleep?
Causes of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation not only refers to a lack of time devoted to sleep but interruptions fragmenting the sequence of sleep stages. Sleep apnea and respiratory obstruction are significant causes of poor sleep, often leading to severe medical complications. Internal factors such as pain, chronic health conditions, pregnancy, and stress can also prevent satisfying sleep. Issues in the environment include stale air, extreme temperatures, dirty bedding, noise, and disruptions such as children or pets. In addition, your circadian rhythms — the normal 24-hour sleep/wake cycles — are thrown into disorder by working rotating shifts.
Results of Sleep Deprivation
The most noticeable result is muscle fatigue, well-known to affect sexual interest and ability. Even the most gentle sexual experiences require a certain amount of stamina. Physical fatigue brings cognitive fatigue with any or all of the following issues; it’s easy to imagine how these might affect your sex life:
- Decreased attention span
- Difficulty focusing and concentrating
- Impaired comprehension
- Inability to notice details
- Slowed reaction time
- Poor decision-making skills
- Challenges storing new memories
- Interference with language abilities
- Loss of situational awareness
Emotional fatigue from sleep deprivation often produces these results:
- Withdrawal from interpersonal engagement
- Loss of ability to empathize
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Lack of enthusiasm
- Decreased self-esteem
- Decreased sense of humor
As first responders will attest, people tend to misjudge their own state of alertness, often believing themselves to be more awake than they are. Repeated episodes of sleep deprivation cause sleep deficit which requires more than a single block of time for recovery. You may feel as though you can “catch up” on lost sleep, but chronic sleep loss can cause brain damage.
The Relationship between Sex and Sleep
Sex and sleep share a bidirectional relationship, meaning that each affects the other. Sleep deprivation makes a strong negative impact on your sex life in physical, mental, and emotional ways. In fact, statistics reveal that people who work rotating shifts frequently report sexual problems. Sex is more than reproduction — it can create a temporary bond between two people as well as strengthen pre-existing bonds through bidirectional communication. But you have to be awake.
How Can You Improve Your Sex Life?
Embracing a healthful lifestyle truly makes a difference: drinking enough water, eating a variety of fresh foods, going outside in the natural light and air, engaging in enjoyable activities, avoiding unhealthful substances, and following your doctor’s recommendations. Don’t be shy about asking your medical team questions about sexual concerns because their job is helping with every aspect of your health. And quality sleep matters! From your libido to arousal to excitement to satisfaction, you can’t have a good sex life without a good sleep life.
How Can You Improve Your Sleep Life?
The term “sleep hygiene” refers to daily practices that promote restful sleep. Creating good habits changes your everyday patterns:
- Sleeping in a comfy, dark, cool, quiet, clean room with fresh bedding and without distractions
- Eliminating energizing activities an hour before bed: substituting slow cool-down activities instead of anything that sparks attention, conflict, anxiety, fear, anger, or grief; turning off screens to turn off your brain
- Reflecting on pleasing instead of painful topics
- Avoiding late consumption of heavy meals and stimulating substances such as caffeine or hot pepper
- Enjoying relaxation techniques or playing guided imagery recordings
- Asking a trusted member of your healthcare team about trying a sleep monitoring device
Talk to your doctor about evaluating and improving your sleep quality. A daily dose of “Vitamin S” is as vital as other nutrients to give you the best possible quality of life. Your partner will agree.