Monday, March 8, 2010

Sleep: Many Are Just Too Tired for Sex

Too tired for sex? You are not alone.

About one in every four Americans married or living with someone say they are so sleep-deprived that they are often too tired to have sex, according to a new study by the National Sleep Foundation.

It has often been discussed that a lack of sleep keeps many people from work and family functions, and the report concurs. However, it is too often overlooked that fatigue can be a real excuse and not something just trumped up to turn down genuine, physical intimacy.

The ultimate impact on a couple’s neglected sex life is manifold, including a loss of closeness between partners, and increased stress. And, it doesn’t matter whether you’re hetero- bi- or homo- sexual, sleep deprivation can be a genuine impediment to regular sex.

So, take time to get your sleep so you can stay up and NOT sleep as much as possible!

The study, based on a random sampling of 1,007 adults ages 25 to 60, focused on differences in sleep habits among ethnic groups — but the responses on tiredness and sex were about the same regardless of ethnicity.

Whites were the most likely — at a rate of about 1 in 10 — to have received a diagnosis of insomnia. Blacks were the most likely to have sleep apnea, about one in seven.

Hispanics were most likely to be kept up at night worrying about work, money, relationships and health problems, with about three in every eight losing sleep over such concerns.

Asian-Americans slept the best of all, with five of every six saying they got a good night’s sleep at least a few nights a week. They were also less likely than members of other groups to watch television or drink alcohol before going to bed, and interestingly, were also less likely to share a bed with a spouse or partner, said Dr. Barbara Phillips, a sleep clinician and member of the sleep foundation’s board. She added that “what we do in the hour before bedtime is important.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 60 million Americans suffer from insomnia each year. Obviously, sleeplessness can have a devastating impact not just on our sexual behavior, but on every aspect of our lives, including productivity.

Brent Scott, who headed up a sleep research project at the University of Florida, found that a poor night of sleep can actually impact how satisfied workers are with their jobs. And the National Sleep Foundation poll concluded that 40 percent of Americans are sleeping fewer than seven hours a night during the workweek. In addition, 75 percent of those surveyed reported problems sleeping a few nights a week, often resulting in missed workdays and errors on the job, among other things.

All this lack of zzzz’s will be on the minds of scientists, psychologists and sleep experts this week, as it’s National Sleep Awareness Week, an annual public education and awareness campaign from the National Sleep Foundation that runs through March 13th and coincides with the release of its yearly report on sleep. Last year’s poll results showed that 30 percent of Americans were losing sleep over the U.S. economy.

This year’s study was the organization’s first poll dedicated to exploring the sleep practices of different ethnic groups; to that end it aimed to answer the following questions in general, not just about sex:

— Do different ethnic groups sleep differently?

— Do attitudes about sleep vary among African-Americans, Whites, Hispanics and Asian-Americans?

— Do work schedules and finances impact sleep equally in all groups?

— Do sleep habits affect marital satisfaction (hey, that includes sex!) or job performance?

More than three-fourths of respondents from each ethnic group agreed that poor sleep is associated with health problems (76-83 percent). These new findings echo lessons learned by former President Bill Clinton, who recently admitted that he has adopted a new lifestyle regimen to sleep seven or more hours on the advice of his doctors.

“The Sleep in America™ poll is a springboard for research,” said Thomas Balkin, Ph.D., chairman of the National Sleep Foundation. “This year’s poll, in particular, will provide compelling insights into our current beliefs and behaviors regarding sleep, health and well-being.”

As for what a sleep-deprived individual can do, many of the tried and true sleep solutions offered by such organizations as the National Sleep Foundation seem to be just what the doctor ordered for a good night’s rest.

According to the experts, here are five ways you can perk up your productivity by getting a good night’s sleep.

— Go to sleep the same time every night. Having an established routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day helps your body set a natural alarm clock for falling asleep.

— Sleep in the dark. Nightlights, open curtains, bright blue alarm screens and even laptop lights can keep you up. Your body has the best chance of getting and staying asleep in relatively total darkness.

— Don’t drink before bed. Drinking caffeinated coffee, tea or soft drinks late in the day can cause a delay in getting to sleep.

— Avoid certain foods after 8 p.m. Stay away from sugary foods later in the evening and, instead, try foods that have the amino acid tryptophan in them, such as bananas, sunflower seeds and low-fat yogurt.

— Try a little white noise or waterfalls. Many people find the sound of nature (waves lapping, birds singing, rain falling) a soothing way to fall asleep. White noise has also been known to lull many a cranky web worker into a restful state.

Watching TV in bed is also a no-no, and also makes sex a lot more challenging. By the way, sex is a great natural sleep aid, and releases a lot of happy endorphins, too!

Regular sound sleep can often be achieved by developing good habits both in and out of bed. Tonight, turn off the TV, grab yourself a glass of warm milk, listen to a soothing CD, close the curtains and get yourself a good night’s rest. Tomorrow night, skip the hot beverage and grab your hottie, instead!

— The Curator

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