We are a nation of chronically sleep-deprived adults. According to the US Centers for Disease Control, one out of every three Americans doesn't get enough sleep on a regular basis. This is not only affecting how we look and feel, it makes dealing with everyday stressors a challenge and if that wasn't tough enough, it's also killing our sex drive. When it comes to time management, sleep always seems like the first thing to go. Get up an hour earlier to hit the gym, stay late at the office and crawl into bed an hour or two later than we'd like. It all adds up. And to the guy who says, "I'll sleep when I'm dead," I ask you this: Who wants to live if you're constantly overstressed and undersexed? Because here's why your love life dries up when you don't get enough sleep.
You're less focused
When you're not getting enough sleep, you're not bringing your A game—to the office or to the bedroom. Because there's basically no chance you can perform at your peak. Without the proper amount of time to repair itself overnight, your body is forced to make do and your focus is one of the first things to suffer. Put simply: when you don't sleep, you get sloppy and sluggish, and you're more likely to make mistakes and miss cues. Not sexy.
It lowers your testosterone
Testosterone is the hormone most closely associated with the male sex drive. According to Dr. Robert D. Oexman, Director of the Sleep to Live Institute, chronic sleep deprivation, which can occur even if you get a solid six hours a night (the majority of adults need at least seven), can lower levels of testosterone. And if this vital hormone is lowered far enough, virtually any man will experience a lag in his libido.
Less sleep means more stress
A poor sleep schedule not only makes you edgy and irritable, there's an actual chemical effect—your body is on constant alert. When you're operating on less sleep, your body surges with cortisol, a natural stress hormone associated with higher blood pressure and lower immune function. And a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, determined that higher levels of cortisol in the body, meant less sex drive and arousal for the subjects. But do you know what naturally lowers cortisol levels? The flood of dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins that surge after an orgasm.
Anxiety creeps in
Some say the brain is your largest sex organ. After all, if you're not in a good mental or emotional space, you're likely not in the mood to connect with someone sexually. As Britain's National Health Services explains, "chronic sleep debt may lead to long-term mood disorders like depression and anxiety." And nearly half of all people dealing with depression report the mood disorder negatively interferes with their sexuality.
And worst of all, it can lead to erectile dysfunction
A 2009 study observed 401 male subjects with sleep apnea. Nearly three quarters of all the men also had erectile dysfunction. Other research has also linked a lack of sleep to problems getting and keep an erection. But it also may have to do with simply all the other ways sleep affects your libido. "Once a man experiences ED, he may get anxious," says Alan W. Shindel, MD, fellow of andrology at the University of California at San Francisco. "His confidence is shaken, and he might be afraid it will happen again. His libido shuts down to preserve his ego."