Sex Talk

I'm too tired for sex. Please help

Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng answers your sex questions

24 September 2017 - 00:00
Sleep-deprived people report lower libido and less interest in sex.
Sleep-deprived people report lower libido and less interest in sex.
Image: iStock

Q. How can lack of sleep affect my sex life?

A. Most people need around six to eight hours of good-quality sleep each night to function optimally. However, it's important to listen to your body and achieve a sleep pattern best for your functioning.

Some common medical reasons why one might be fatigued include:

  • Coeliac disease;
  • Sleep apnea;
  • Hypothyroid disease;
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome, and
  • Anaemia.

Insomnia and medical conditions can feed off each other. For example, sleep loss can aggravate symptoms of depression and depression can make it more difficult to fall asleep.

On the positive side, treating sleep problems can help depression and its symptoms, and vice versa.

Besides having an impact on sexual health and pleasure, sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss can put you at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, to name a few.

Sleep also plays a critical role in thinking and learning and a lack can disturb the cognitive process.

Many people resort to consuming caffeine throughout the day to stay awake. This can worsen insomnia.

If you are trying to be sociable, lack of sleep may mean you have less mental and physical energy to participate.

In some women, higher levels of testosterone appear to boost desire and sexual satisfaction

Many studies have investigated the link between insomnia and testosterone. Some suggest that men with sleep apnea also have low testosterone levels. Some men suffer erectile dysfunction as a result. In some women, higher levels of testosterone appear to boost desire and sexual satisfaction.

It is also important for women to have good sleep patterns.

Sleep-deprived people report lower libido and less interest in sex. Chronically depleted energy, tension and tiredness may explain the lack of intimacy that can creep in.

Partners sleeping in different beds or rooms - due to snoring or other issues - leads to restless sleep and less opportunity for spontaneous sex.

The frequency of sex will probably become less and less as well as be affected sooner, even before the hormonal changes occur.

Lack of sleep interferes with our ability to cope. Investigate possible medical reasons and modify lifestyle choices that may be having a negative impact on your ability to sleep well.

• Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng (MBChB), sexual and reproductive health practice, DISA Clinic, 011-886-2286, visit safersex.co.za.

Do you have a question about sex?

Sunday Times Lifestyle is conducting a survey to find out about South Africans and their sex lives, habits and attitudes. Are there any questions we should be asking? If so, please email us your suggestions to lifestyle@sundaytimes.co.za with SEX SURVEY in the subject line.


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