Considering that the sleep-tech industry is slated to be worth $27 billion by 2025, up from from $9 billion in 2018, it’s clear that many people are looking for new and innovative ways to optimize their REM routines. Think: smart mattresses, thoughtful pillows, snooze-tracking wearables, breathing robots, and beyond. And while I enjoy testing that technology as much my other tired compatriots, it’s time we talk about a hack that’s been available since the beginning of time: masturbation. Because despite their shared connection of being bedroom activities, orgasm and sleep are a power couple that isn’t discussed often enough for being a solid strategy to improve your snooze time.
“When you have an orgasm, you release a cocktail of hormones that helps you feel relaxed and sleep better,” says Rebecca Alvarez Story, sexologist and founder of Bloomi. “Think of this cocktail as the body’s natural sleep remedy.” So what’s in this feel-good magical sleep piña colada? A few stand-out ingredients are endorphins, vasopressin, oxytocin (the cuddle hormone), norepinephrine, and serotonin.
“First, endorphins, the body’s natural pain-killing hormones, activate the body’s opiate receptors which make you feel happier and more relaxed,” Story says. “Then hormones like vasopressin and oxytocin counteract stress hormones and help you fall asleep faster. Norepinephrine and serotonin help your body get into a flow of REM sleep cycles to help you stay asleep.”
Beyond those neurotransmitters at play that connect orgasm and sleep quality, there are other biological reasons to prioritize sexual satisfaction as a strategy for snagging some zzz’s.
“During sexual arousal, levels of oxytocin can increase significantly, and this can have a calming effect on the mind and body and induce a restful sleep.” —sexologist Jess O’Reilly, PhD
“During sexual arousal, levels of oxytocin can increase significantly, and this can have a calming effect on the mind and body and induce a restful sleep,” says sexologist Jess O’Reilly, PhD, host of the @SexWithDrJess Podcast. “Some research suggests that the process of quashing sexual desire that occurs post-orgasm can result in slumber inducing chemicals that promote some drowsiness.” One of those chemicals is prolactin, specifically released during orgasm, and has a special somnambulant quality, decreasing overall arousal.
And when it comes to partnered play versus a solo act? Well, one new study examined just that. Using results from 778 volunteers about the connection between orgasm and sleep, via partnered or solo sex, it made some conclusions about the best method for reaching climax when it comes to sleep. While partnered sexual activity showcased the best overall results, orgasm from masturbation still showed great results in improved sleep quality and latency over no orgasm at all.
Ultimately, I’m in favor of whatever technique or product helps you sleep at night, even if it isn’t a massage wand with no less than eight settings. But since investing in your pleasure is always a worthwhile venture, you might want to try your hand at climaxing toward Dreamland. Hey, you’re in bed anyway.