A recent New York Times article reported interesting National Sleep Foundation research findings: "Study Finds Many Are Too Tired for Sex: One in four Americans married or living with someone say they are so sleep-deprived that they are often too tired to have sex". Many of my clients in my San Francisco private practice and couples in our Marriage Prep 101 workshops shared these sleep foundation findings with us. They were relieved to learn that other couples also say that they are too tired for sex. However, many of them also asked me for tips to help!
Too Tired for Sex: 10 Tips to Help
1) Remember that you are not alone. Fatigue is indeed a leading reason for couples to have less sex. However, do you really want to become one of the "No Sex/Low Sex" couples? According to research, 20% of all couples have sex less than ten times per year. When couples get out of the habit and ritual of being sexual with each other, they lose an important opportunity for connection, closeness, intimacy, pleasure and fun.
2) Look at your health & wellness. Make the commitment to yourself and partner that you will find a way to manage your fatigue so that it does not interfere with a good sex life. Rule out medical issues around low thyroid or iron deficiency. Look at your diet. Are you at a healthy weight? Do you eat enough protein? Do you get enough exercise? Are you getting a minimum of seven hours per sleep per night? Taking care of your own wellness and health can make a significant difference in your energy level and interest in sex.
3) Manage time at home better. You will need your spouse's help with this. If you have children, get them to bed earlier. While one spouse cleans up after dinner, let the more tired one take a bath, relax or read a magazine. Take time to release stress so sex does not become one more chore at the end of the day. Pick a time that you both will be finished working (including work details, laundry and emails) so you don't just fall into bed. Turn off the TV or computer at an agreed upon time. If your career or housework or childcare continue to take precedence over your sex life, no wonder you are too exhausted for sex. If you have sex only at the end of the night, you may end up choosing sleep over sex on a regular basis.
4) Ten Minute Rule: If you are not in the mood or feel too tired for sex, give it ten minutes. According to research, half of the population feels amorous or horny and wants to initiate sex. The other half is not at all interested in sex until after they start kissing and fooling around. Give it a try. Like physical exercise, if we start with ten minutes, we often stick around and get more into it. Next time you feel too tired, try kissing and fooling around for ten minutes and see if you get more aroused or interested.
5) Create windows of opportunity. Do you ever have a sex date? Rather than go to dinner and movie, stay home and have a sexually playful evening? Create windows of opportunity for sexual connection at times other than the end of a long day. Do you ever make love when little children are napping? Or send them to a friend's house, and stay home and make love in the morning or afternoon? What about wake me up sex where you welcome your partner waking you up while you are asleep to fool around? What about making love before you go out on a date? Set your alarm early and make love at the beginning of the day? Couples come up with so many excuses. You have to be creative to find and create good times for sex.
6) Take a Marriage Vacation. No kids. Fun, romantic and sexy focus to even a weekend can jump start your sex life. The more sex you have, the more testosterone, dopamine and oxytocin you release. Let your physiology do its magic by having lots of sex while on vacation.
7) Redefine sex. Does sex always have to mean sexual intercourse? Women, maybe you are exhausted, but could get more into sex if your hubby focused only on you. How about sensual massage (just receive), long passionate kissing or just one person receive oral sex? Do you ever think of giving sex as a gift to your partner? Too many couples decline sex because they are tired and they don't have the energy for a luxurious, lengthy experience. What about just giving your guy a hand job or blow job? What about just focusing on the woman's pleasure? I hear that many women wish sex could sometimes be only about their personal pleasure, but they do not tell their guys. Have you ever heard of "eat her like a peach" or "pretend you have a tic tac in your mouth"? Why do we have a widely accepted term for oral sex for a man: "blow job", but not one for a woman? If either of you think that you are too tired for sex, ask each other if you are up for anything sexual? Maybe a sexual appetizer could be on the menu even if you don't have energy for a big sexual meal!
8) Communicate. Talk to your partner about your fatigue, and then challenge each other to take better care of yourselves and find better times when you are not so tired. A common mistake that many couples make is losing momentum. They get a babysitter, go out for the evening, drink some wine, feel amorous, and then come home. One person takes 15 minutes checking email...and the momentum is gone. The other person tried to wait for them, but fell asleep in the process. Been there, done that. Keep the date feeling going all the way to the bedroom. Or living room. Or hot tub...
9) Spice it up. Are you really too tired or honestly has sex become a little boring or too predictable? Have a heart to heart sex talk. What do you each like about your sex life? Focus on the positives. What would you like to be different? Spice it up. Try something new. Visit a sex store together. Read a sex book. Be creative. Maybe you would be less tired if sex was more fun, novel and engaging.
10) Rally. If you have dinner plans, and you are exhausted do you usually rally for the occasion? When you feel tired, and you have to go to work, do you drink a little coffee, show up and do your best? Do you give needed love and attention to your children? Sadly, many couples begin to see their sex lives as optional. They take it for granted, and allow fatigue to be an acceptable reason to continuously decline making love.
Instead, commit to making your sexual relationship be an important way to connect with each other, be playful, and have more fun! Research by sex therapist, Dr. Barry McCarthy found “When couples are happy enough with their sex life, it only accounts for 15% of how happy they are in their relationship. However, when either person is unhappy with their sex life it can account for 85% of their relationship happiness”. Yes, we are all busy, and fatigue definitely contributes to many of us having less sex. Talk to your partner. Do not allow the mantra, "I am too exhausted for sex" to continue any longer. Get creative, motivated and inspired to prioritize your sexual relationship. Don't you want to be one of those passionate, sexy, still in love couples that we all envy and admire? Yes, you can!
What do you think? Is fatigue a problem in your sex life? If so, how do you deal with it? How important is your sex life to your overall happiness? How can you create more windows of opportunity to connect sexually?
Dr Michelle Gannon
This post was originally posted on Hitched- Online Magazine that Entertains, Educates and Inspires Marriages. Dr. Michelle Gannon joins other Experts there to help couples with relationships.