How much sleep do you get a night? If you’re like most Americans, it’s probably not enough. And the state of sleep in America has only worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic, with stress and anxiety impeding our ability to get restful sleep on a consistent basis.
Unfortunately, a new study has found that insomnia and poor sleep is also directly related to a decline in sexual pleasure. Researchers found that poor sleep quality is linked to sexual dysfunction in older women. Older women who reported troubled sleep are more likely to report infrequent sexual activity as well as fewer orgasms and decreased sexual pleasure even when they are intimate.
“This study highlights an association between poor sleep quality and sexual dysfunction. These are two common issues for midlife women and asking about and addressing each may contribute to improved quality of life,” says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director and senior author of the study.
In other words, the older we get, the more important it is for us to enjoy deep, restful sleep if we want to have passionate, fulfilling sexual lives.
Yet that’s easier said than done, especially when menopause strikes and night sweat and hot flashes take over. Insomnia is one of the top complaints women have during menopause, and it’s an issue that increases in frequency as we age. 39 to 47 percent of perimenopausal women suffer from sleep disorders, as do 35 to 60 percent of postmenopausal women. That’s a lot of tired women we are talking about!
Without restful sleep, we simply can’t function at our best. Sleep deprivation can be catastrophic for our mental health, as well as our physical health. Insomnia can increase our blood pressure, throw off our metabolism, and even weaken our immune system.
So it’s not a surprise to see that as sleep declines, so too does our desire to be intimate and our ability to reach orgasm. And, other studies have supported this theory over the years, for women as well as men: A 2019 study found that older men who suffer from sleep issues are more likely to struggle with erectile dysfunction.
But how can we achieve better sleep, especially during such a stressful time? Here are my top tips for better sleep:
Banish screens from the bedroom. Yes, that means no television, no laptops, no phones! Numerous studies have shown that the blue light emitted by our screens can really be negative for our health, especially right before bed. It is harmful to our eyes and restricts the production of melatonin which we need for healthy sleep patterns.
- Try wicking pajamas. I recommend temperature-regulating pajamas for women going through menopause or perimenopause. There are many good brands, but I recommend Dagsmejan for their feather-light textiles that keep you cool and comfortable all night long.
Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time each night, and wake at the same time each morning…even on the weekends! Sleeping for an extra 30 minutes probably won’t disturb your schedule, but anything more, and you could derail your natural circadian rhythm for the rest of the week.
Revamp your bedroom. If you’re suffering from night sweats and hot flashes, it may be time to rethink your bedding. Miracle Sheets not only kill bacteria growth, but they also keep you cooler all night long, making them a good option for ‘hot sleepers.’ PeachSkin Sheets are another good option to keep you cool and dry, especially on humid summer nights.
Get active. Regular exercise routines are linked to better sleep. Aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, dancing, and bicycling has helped many women combat hot flashes. Staying active also reduces stress and staves off the blues. What’s more, it builds muscle and may reduce bone loss and fractures, which become more common as estrogen production falls.
Lastly, if you want to increase your sexual intimacy, I recommend that you don’t put sex off until the end of the day. Most busy people know that the things on the bottom of the to-do list generally don’t get done, even if it is something pleasurable like sex. Make time for sex when you actually have the energy to enjoy it, such as first thing in the morning or even during a lunch break.