Sleep or Sex?

Being part of a couple always means compromise, but sometimes your sleep-sex cycles simply aren't in sync. Here's what you can do.

Think about it.

What's making you so tired? If lack of sleep is a chronic problem, or if you are getting enough sleep but you are still tired most of the time, you need to get to the root of the problem. It could be your diet, your mental state, or a medical problem such as anemia or a sluggish thyroid. If you don't know why you're too tired for sex, it's time to see a doctor.

Talk about it.

Sex can be a sensitive subject, even between two people who are quite comfortable with each other. And it can become even more sensitive when sex isn't happening because one partner is just too tired and the other partner is suffering as a result. When this happens, both of you are suffering on an emotional level, and staying silent won't help. Be honest. Talk about the problem and ways you might be able to get around it.

Time it.

Perhaps you work different shifts or one of you physically works harder than the other and can't stay up as late, especially on weeknights. If you can't synch your sleep time, you should be able to synch some awake time because there's almost twice as much of that! Figure out those times when you are both awake and free for intimacy. Sex at different times of the day, and perhaps in a new location, could improve your relationship in more ways than you expect.

Sleep first.

Getting enough sleep on a regular basis is so important to your health that it trumps sex under most circumstances when a choice must be made. But choosing to sleep doesn't mean no sex, it simply means delayed sex, and it's important that both partners understand this. Unless one of you is sleeping to avoid sex altogether, there just has to be trust and understanding.

Try something new.

One of the (many) great things about sex is that it's such a versatile activity. It's not just about intercourse, it doesn't have to be wild to be satisfying and it doesn't always have to culminate in orgasmic release for everyone involved, every time it happens. A quiet, relaxing massage or seductive moves that allows the wide-awake partner to be more active and the sleepy one to be more passive, can be just as exciting. While it's not fair to expect someone who is simply exhausted to respond happily to sex, a little spontaneity and imagination just might help a sleepy partner rise on occasion.



University of California Davis Student Health Services: Sexual Health-Sexual Problems & Sexuality Resources