If you've ever had trouble sleeping, chances are someone has told you to move your television, laptop, or work out of the bedroom. One's bed, it's been said, should be reserved for two things: sleep and sex. But what happens when it doesn't get much of either?
Sarah Jessica Parker's new movie, I Don't Know How She Does It, broaches this question—one I'm often asked about, as a sex researcher and educator at Indiana University. Almost every trailer for the movie features a scene in which Kate (Parker) and her husband, Richard (Greg Kinnear), flirtatiously hint about having sex. Kate has returned home from a work trip and, while clearly exhausted, insists she's not too tired—except, moments later, she's passed out in their bed. Indeed, the sleep-over-sex scene is familiar to movies (there's a similar one in last summer's Hall Pass, except the wife fakes sleep to avoid sex), and to many of our personal lives. Who isn't juggling some combination of kids, pets, work, school, friends, and social obligations? The Daily Beast: Sex At Occupy Wall Street
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Still, not everyone realizes just how big a role sleep plays in maintaining our sex drive and performance. According to a 2005 national poll, as many as one third of married or cohabitating adults felt that their romantic relationships were adversely impacted by their own or their partner's sleep problems—such as insomnia or snoring—or sleepiness. New mothers with low sexual interest reported in at least one recent study that a key cause was being tired (the vast majority woke up at least once per night to take care of their baby). And in other research, people with sleep apnea were found to have more difficulties with sexual function.
The good news? If you get more sleep, you can rev up your sex drive. In a 2011 study, for example, when patients with chronic sinus problems were treated, both their sleep and sex lives improved. If you're low on sexual desire, before begging your doctor for hormone testing or a prescription, ask yourself if you've been sleeping through the night—and consider these five findings: