It's not always easy to keep your sex life hot when you've got kids. Not only do you need to find the time (something that's often in short supply when your to-do list is miles long), but you also have to have the energy. And honestly, sometimes the idea of catching up on sleep sounds like a much better idea than catching up with your partner. But a new study out of Australia suggests that, actually, we might be thinking about it all wrong. Feel like your libido is in a slump? Here's what parents should do at night to have better sex (and better sleep, too).
By now, you've probably heard that screen time before bed is a bad idea, yet honestly, trying to break that habit can be difficult. But according to The New York Post, Adelaide sleep researcher Dr. Michele Lastella recommends that one of the best things you can do for a better night's rest is to turn off your phone — and have sex instead. Lastella studied the sleep habits of 460 adults between the ages of 18 and 70, and found that having sex with your partner before bed improves the quality of your sleep. And since lying in bed with your iPad does the exact opposite, Lastella had a simple solution: swap out of the screen time and add in some sex, and you'll both end up happier and healthier.
It doesn't exactly seem super surprising to hear that sex can help you sleep better, but it's actually really valuable advice. According to The New York Post, Lastella told Adelaide Now that 64 percent of patients experienced better quality sleep when they had sex before bed (though to be more specific, it has to be with a partner, and it has to involve an orgasm). Since sleep deprivation is often a major struggle for parents of young children, the findings suggest that having more sex at night could in fact make it a little bit easier — although unfortunately, it won't do anything to prevent your 2-year-old from waking up in the middle of the night yet again.
But the notion of turning off your phone and having sex instead is where Lastella's recommendation gets especially helpful. Taking our phones to bed is a bad, yet totally common, habit: according to Fortune, a 2015 consumer report by the Bank of America found that 71 percent of Americans who own smartphones bring them to bed (with 3 percent of people literally sleeping with their phone in their hands). But according to Scientific American, the blue light emitted by smartphones and other devices can interfere with sleep-regulating melatonin, which can make it harder to fall asleep. Studies have also found that people who use light-emitting devices before bed have less REM sleep than those who don't, and are sleepier when they get up in the morning, too. In other words? Avoiding screens before bedtime will prevent blue light-induced sleep issues, and having sex instead will mean you'll have even better sleep than you would have otherwise.
The benefits aren't solely linked to sleep, though. According to The Washington Post, studies have found that, while relationship satisfaction varies for all couples at different points, couples with children are much more likely to report lower levels of happiness than their childless counterparts. That makes sense, in a way: parenting is demanding and often stressful, leaving otherwise well-intentioned couples less able to put in the time and effort required to maintain their relationships. What's more though is that a 2014 study found that both men and women experience hormonal changes that might affect their libidos within the first year after having a baby, according to The Telegraph, which certainly doesn't help matters.
Having more sex won't magically solve those problems, but it could help guard against them — and you might not have to do it often to actually see the benefits. According to USA TODAY, a 2015 study that looked at the sexual habits of more than 30,000 Americans found that couples who have sex once a week are actually the happiest. But that doesn't necessarily make once a week the magic number: experts say that the most important factor is that you are having sex as often as you are happy with, whether that's more or less than the study suggests.
Let's be honest: most of us could probably benefit from spending less time on our phones — and well, we could probably benefit from having more sex, too. And, as long as you're both enjoying it, doing both of those things can lead to a better relationship and a better night's sleep. While making sex a priority as parents can be a challenge, you might want to reconsider the next time you're tempted to skip the sex in favor or a little more shut-eye.
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