Tips & Advice

From Dr. Liz Herself

February 16, 2017
Sleep And Your Sex Life
Dancing Couple Gets Plenty of Sleep And Have a Healthy Sex Drive

Sometimes doctors make me crazy.

A few years back, I got frustrated reading studies that came up with very obvious conclusions. I got annoyed enough to create an anonymous blog called “No Duh, Doctor!”

Although this blog is no longer active, I recently came across a study that qualified.

Breaking news: “Older women who sleep well at night are more likely to have satisfying sex lives, a study suggests.”

Oh. My. Gosh.

It is unbelievable to me that the Women’s Health Initiative study (yes, the same one that has yielded such incorrect and damaging conclusions about hormone therapy) is still producing data and study findings. I guess when that much time and money has gone into a study, you have to mine the data as much as you can.

In this report, information was analyzed from 94,000 women, ages 50 to 79, who had answered questions about their sexual function in the previous year and their sleep in the previous month.

Basic (not surprising!) study conclusion:

Women reported less satisfaction with their sex lives with worse sleep quality and fewer hours of sleep.

I’m happy to tell you that this study confirmed my clinical impression and my own experience (and what I’ve been saying for a long time): seven hours of good-quality sleep appears to be a necessary minimum.

Compared to women who slept 7 to 8 hours per night, women who slept 6 hours per night were 6% less likely to be sexually active and 6% less likely to be satisfied with their sex life; women who got only five hours of sleep per night were 12% less likely to be sexually active and 12% less likely to be satisfied with their sex life.

Interestingly, overall, only 56% of the women reported being at least somewhat satisfied with their sex life, and only 52% reported sexual activity with a partner during the previous year. This was not addressed in the study, but I find these numbers surprisingly low.

Also, nearly a third of the women had insomnia (based on a five question validated questionnaire). This factor alone (leaving out issues like hot flashes and vaginal dryness) was associated with an 8% drop in satisfaction with their sex lives.

In usual academic fashion, the lead doctor on the study points out that you cannot use observational study results to confirm cause-and-effect conclusions.


Rather than wait for a large randomized trial to be conducted to prove cause and effect between quality and quantity of sleep in your healthy satisfying sex life, I invite you to run your own study on yourself.

Improve your own sleep, and get at least seven hours of sleep consistently over a long period of time, then report back to me how you feel.

As an added bonus, the National Sleep Foundation has determined that seven hours of sleep is the minimum necessary for good cognitive function and prevention of Alzheimer’s.

Maybe someday someone will do a study on the secondary (and economic) impact of a satisfying sex life, including less divorce and more productivity and happiness.

I have written about the critical importance of sleep before, and I will write about it again.

Especially now that a published study says so, we can add “satisfying sex life” to the list of benefits of getting enough hours of good sleep.

Reference: Association of sleep disturbance and sexual function in postmenopausal women

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