There are few things in this world that are more relaxing than a nice orgasm. Your whole body goes lax, you're blissed out for a moment, feeling little pain and a whole lot of relief. Sex in itself can be quite an energetic activity. Your heart rate increases, your breathing changes, and I don't know about you, but I get sweaty. It's no wonder that coming down from all that action would make you sleepy. But for me, I don't get as sleepy unless I climax. It makes me wonder, why do orgasms help you fall asleep?
The reason orgasms help you fall asleep is all in the hormones. Chris Brantner, certified sleep science coach and founder of SleepZoo.com wrote for Psychology Today that "research has shown that sex before bed can help improve sleep quality thanks to the endorphins released by sex, which serve to ease anxiety and relax you." There is a mighty surge of hormones released throughout the time when you and your partner are getting busy, and they throw your entire body into a soup of endorphin and oxytocin, which cause the body to feel content and relaxed, noted the article.
It should be noted that endorphins are the same hormone released with other physical exertions like exercise, and that oxytocin is also referred to as "the love hormone," so the combination is potent.
I spoke with Dr. Angela Jones, board certified OB-GYN (and hilarious individual), and she tells Romper that before you can understand why orgasms help you fall asleep, you need to understand orgasms first. "Orgasms are intense sensations or pleasure, oft times associated with sexual activity but not limited to sexual activity," she tells Romper, noting that you can orgasm from masturbation or even in your sleep. "During orgasm, feel-good chemicals are released into the bloodstream, the senses are heightened, [and] there is increased blood flow to certain areas of the body." (Mostly down there, of course.)
"Once climax is obtained, rhythmic contractions occur… all this in the setting of more rapid heart rate [and] heavier breathing, which are the direct result of being pleasured, mentally or physically." Jones says that this rush of hormones is like hitting the gym, but without all the strain. It's the best kind of relaxation. The fact that men burn on average 100 calories during sex, and women a cool 69 (heh), according to Men's Health, is just more reason to hit the sheets.
For women, sex boosts estrogen after orgasm, which not only helps them fall asleep, but lures women into a deeper sleep state, noted Sleep.org.
This whole thing is really making me question my reliance upon Ambien to get to sleep. This whole time I could've leaned more heavily on a more manual form of sleep assistance. (Or battery operated, whatever.) My therapist often suggested that I try some combination of exercise/meditation/sex in order to have a better night's sleep, but I am a creature of habit. This is making me rethink my strategies.
A study reported in LiveScience stated that "research using positron emission tomography (PET) scans has shown that in order for a person to reach orgasm, a primary requirement is to let go of 'all fear and anxiety,'" which might help further explain why it is that you become so lethargic post-sex. For a moment at least, your fears and worries that might otherwise keep your brain occupied and in a state of arousal, are gone.
Sex and sleep also has a reciprocal effect, noted Sleep.org. Couples who have more sex, sleep better, and couples who sleep better have more sex, making everyone happier. I mean, I don't know how factoring children in there impacts the sleep benefits of an orgasm, but deal with that later.
Edit note: An earlier version of this article misnamed the person behind the quote on endorphins and sleep quality. It has been corrected.