| July 15, 2013

Nearly 80 percent of women would rather get a good night's sleep than have sex, the Better Sleep Council has reported.

Why is this? One reason may be that women do not see intimacy as valuable as sleep. Another reason may be that many of us are so sleep deprived that a good night's sleep sounds better than almost anything else. A 2007 study by this same group, found that 72 percent of the women they questioned reported trouble sleeping at least a couple of nights each week.

Most women don't have the problem of too much sleep, it's too little and the quality is poor.  Having small children is a guarantee for sleep interruption. When there are babies in the house it's understood that a couple’s sleep will be interrupted.

However, getting older toddlers and school age children to sleep needs to be a priority for couple time. Too many couples simply accept that the kids will sleep in the bed with them indefinitely since they refuse to go to sleep otherwise and will likely wake them repeatedly for any reason.

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It's important to establish the bedroom as the parents' zone and not allow the kids to make your bedroom an extension of their own rooms. Furthermore, couples who don't have children will often allow interruptions from work, the phone, or pets to get in the way of uninterrupted sleep and time for intimacy.
First, keep your bedroom for you and your couplehood only. Secondly, for deeper sleep, some experts advise limiting before bed entertainment to upbeat and joyful things and avoiding dramas that may spark a worry pattern (women frequently cited worrying about kids, finance and family issues as a trigger for middle-of-the-night waking). According to researchers Michael H. Bonnet and Donna L. Arand, “There is strong evidence that sufficient shortening or disturbance of the sleep process compromises mood, performance and alertness and can result in injury or death. In this light, the most common-sense ‘do no injury’ medical advice would be to avoid sleep deprivation.”

When there is bad sleep everyone suffers.  But women may be on to something when they value good sleep even over sex. They may intuitively know they are at risk if they don’t bank sleep. Recent research shows that women who report frequent sleepless nights have a greater risk for health problems than men. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center, led by Edward Suarez, PhD, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, found that women who reported unhealthy sleep are at an elevated risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and depression.

So how can we actually get better sleep? Besides keeping the room dark and cool, experts advise us to try and stick to a schedule in general as we go about our day. Go to sleep at or around the same time each night, but also do other tasks like showering and walking the dog at around the same time. The journal Sleep reports that this scheduled behavior allowed insomniacs to fall asleep faster.

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So cut off work and wind down. A new study in the International Journal of Psychophysiology points out that even mundane tasks like answering emails amp up the brain’s focus, making it difficult to fall asleep so allow time to wind down.

Furthermore, avoid dehydration. A University of Pennsylvania study found people who get the full amount of sleep drink more water than those who get six hours or less. But everything in moderation—avoid drinking too much before bed and just be aware of staying hydrated throughout the day.

Additionally, listening to slow music helps you reach deeper levels of sleep so enlist your playlist to provide calming music. Address health concerns that may be getting in the way of both sleep and intimacy. Ask your doctor about problems that interfere with sleep. Things like frequent urination or restless leg syndrome may have simple solutions that your body will respond to and will make sleep easier and better.

And the same holds true for sex.  Discuss any changes with a doctor before simply accepting that this is how life is. Better quality of sleep (and intimacy) is an attainable goal.