You’ve just had incredible sex with your partner, and all you want to do is initiate a quality snuggle-session and chat about what’s been on your mind lately.
But you turn over and someone’s out like a light. The AUDACITY. You’re annoyed and mildly offended — why is your man always dozing off post-intercourse?
It’s all in your head
There are a few reasons that men are prone to falling asleep after sex — and none of them have to do with your personality or performance in the bedroom.
Blame the hormones
The most fundamental cause of a drowsy partner is biology. According to Live Science, looking at the biochemistry of the orgasm reveals that during male ejaculation a cocktail of brain chemicals are released — and one of these hormones is called prolactin. While prolactin is linked to feelings of sexual satisfaction in men, it’s also a hormone that is present in higher levels during sleep.
Apart from that, elevated prolactin levels contribute to a decrease in sexual arousal. This period is called a refractory period—a period of time during which men are temporarily less responsive to sexual stimulation and may experience a decrease in energy levels and simply feel more tired and sleepy. This refractory period can vary in length among individuals, ranging from minutes to hours or even longer. Factors such as age, overall health, arousal level, and individual physiology can influence the duration of the refractory period.
Because prolactin and sleep are strongly linked to one another — and because intercourse orgasms release four times more prolactin than masturbatory orgasms — men are prone to being a lot more tired after a session between the sheets.
In addition to prolactin, oxytocin and vasopressin are also released during the male orgasm. These chemicals typically are accompanied by melatonin, the body-clock regulating hormone. The three of these hormones combined lead to relaxation and sleepiness.
Sexual activity can be physically demanding, especially during intense or prolonged periods of activity. Men may engage in vigorous movements and expend energy during sex, leading to fatigue afterward. Energy-producing glycogen depletion is believed to the cause of that.
Glycogen is a stored form of glucose in muscles and liver, primarily used as an energy source during physical activity. When individuals engage in strenuous physical activities, glycogen is broken down into glucose to provide energy for muscle contractions. After exercise or sexual activity, glycogen stores may be depleted to some extent. And since men have more muscle mass compared to women, they tend to lose more glycogen thus becoming more sleepy.
Desire for bonding and affection
Moreover, according to a study done by evolutionary psychologists at the University of Michigan and Albright College in Pennsylvania, the tendency to fall asleep after sex is actually associated with greater partner desire for bonding and affection. Yes, you read that correctly.
“The more one’s partner was likely to fall asleep after sex, the stronger the desire for bonding,” explains Daniel Kruger, research fellow at the University of Michigan, and lead author of the study.
The simpler explanation behind recurring post-sex slumber: why do men get tired after sex?
If all this hormone and evolutionary bonding talk has got your brain in knots, there’s a more basic reason your man is sleeping like a log following intercourse. Sex typically takes place in the bedroom, and often in the evening. Our brains associate the bedroom with bedtime and it’s only natural to feel sleepy when put in this setting. Women can likely attest to tiredness post-intercourse, as well.
Feeling physically and emotionally spent after sex is very common, and even more so for men. The release of tension, the focus on pleasurable sensations, and the intimacy involved can all contribute to a sense of emotional and mental exhaustion afterward.
Though you can’t necessarily outsmart biology (men are going to release those sleep-inducing hormones after sex no matter what you do), you can adjust environmental factors so that it’s more likely you can engage in a bit of post-coital conversation.
Men’s Health sleep advisor W. Christopher Winter, M.D. suggests keeping the lights on and picking a sex pose that’s not horizontal to keep your partner’s body perked up and alert after the act. Sure, this might sound risqué but variety is the spice of life — and surely mixing things up is better than listening to a symphony of snores immediately following orgasm.
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5 lesser-known health benefits of orgasms
by Joan Price
When I speak to groups about sex and aging, there’s one piece of advice I always give. It raises eyebrows and gets startled looks, but hear me out: “Give yourself an orgasm once a week. Put it on your to-do list!”
Here’s why: “Whether alone or with a partner, an orgasm is good medicine!” says Ellen Barnard, MSSW, Sexual Health Educator and Counselor at A Woman’s Touch Sexuality Resource Center in Madison, Wisconsin. Barnard cites these research-supported health benefits of an orgasm per week:
- Reduces the risk of mild depression.
- Offers a 36% reduction in the risk of heart disease.
- Boosts the immune system.
- Fights the effects of chronic pain.
- Strengthens the pelvic floor to keep everything in place and not leaking.