Would You Give Up Sleep for More Sex?

A study on how much sleep people are giving up to get it on

By Alesandra Woolley

Jun 14th, 2022

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Games of “would you rather” are designed to be difficult. The choices usually force people to choose the lesser of two evils, but what happens when the choices are two very loved things? An ultimate “would you rather” many people face is choosing between sleep and sex. Getting quality shut-eye is the typical end goal of every day, and while sleep is both satisfying and necessary, many would argue the same goes for sex.

But when life gets in the way and responsibilities start to add up, we often push sexual intimacy to the side in hopes of catching just a few more zzz’s. So how many people are doing the opposite? We surveyed over 1,000 people about their sleep and sex habits to see how much sleep people are giving up to get it on. Keep reading to see what we found.

Periods of Sleep and Sex

With adults needing a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night, couples were right on the mark with an average of 6.9 hours. While we don’t need a minimum amount of sex per night to function the next day, there is a lot of debate about couples’ sexual health. How much sex is too little? Will too little sex tear a relationship apart? It turns out, there really is no magic number for sexual intimacy.

Respondents in a relationship had sex an average of 8.7 days per month. There’s no need to worry if you’re above or below the average, though. The frequency of sex is heavily tied to the length of the relationship and can simply boil down to personal preference. New relationships are exciting, and the chemistry of our brains means we tend to get busy a lot. But as relationships progress and the newness subsides, couples tend to have their own schedules, with no amount of sex being considered the “norm.”

Single respondents may be having sex less frequently but are catching just a bit more sleep than their coupled-up counterparts. On average, single people slept 7.1 hours per night and had sex 6.2 days per month. While they only clocked in around 12 more minutes of sleep, that adds up to almost an hour and a half of sleep throughout the week. Some may argue that a lot can be done in those 12 minutes each night, but the extra rest that single respondents get may benefit them in ways that no sexual session could.

“As relationships progress and the newness subsides, couples tend to have their own schedules, with no amount of sex being considered the ‘norm.'”

Satisfaction in the Bedroom

Exchanging sleep for sex doesn’t necessarily mean missing out on rest each night. As respondents’ sleep satisfaction increased, so too did their sex frequency.

Over 31 percent reported moderate satisfaction with their sleep and had sex an average of 8.3 days per month. Increase satisfaction to “very satisfied,” and people were having sex an average of nine days per month. It may seem obvious that a lack of sleep can negatively impact your sex life, but the flip side is also true. Having sex before bed acts as a sedative, flooding your body with oxytocin to create a state of pure relaxation. Not only does it increase the quality of your sleep, but sex also helps you fall asleep faster, which may ultimately improve the quantity of sleep you’re getting as well.

Sacrificing Sleep for Sex

Even if satisfaction isn’t affected, how many hours of sleep per month are people giving up for sex? People in a relationship forwent the most slumber, with an average of 7.7 hours of sleep per month. They lost around two hours more per month than married couples, but single people still gave up an average of over five hours of sleep monthly.

The frequency of sex and sleep change as we age, and while millennials need slightly more sleep than baby boomers, they gave up 6.4 hours each month to have sex compared to the older generation’s average of 5.9 hours.

Would You Rather …

Coming home after a long day of work and choosing to have sex rather than go to sleep seems like a choice few would make. But over 91 percent of men would choose sex over sleep even if they were exhausted after a long day. Women were less likely to do the same – yet more than 76 percent would give up sleep to have sex if they’re exhausted.

A similar pattern occurred for all scenarios presented, with men more willing to give up sleep for sex. In fact, over 85 percent of men would still skip out on sleep if there was an important work meeting the next day, but only around 74 percent of women would make the same choice.

Zzz’s and O’s

We already noted that sleep satisfaction is linked to sex frequency, but is satisfaction in both areas also related? Well, the connection is pretty tight. Those not at all satisfied with their sex life were just as likely to say they were also not at all satisfied with their sleep.

The same thing occurred on a more positive note – 31.4 percent of respondents were moderately satisfied with their sleep, and 30 percent were also moderately satisfied with their sex life. Since sex and sleep are interdependent, it could be that satisfying sleep increases the pleasure of one’s sex life or vice versa. Either way, being more satisfied in one area appears likely to boost satisfaction in the other.

Better Sleep, Better Sex

Satisfaction in the bedroom comes down to two things: sleep and sex. There’s not much in the world people would choose over the two activities, but when they’re up against one another, sex wins the battle. Most people, whether male or female, would sacrifice some shut-eye to get down and dirty. Even after a long day or an important meeting the next day, sex is worth knocking off a few minutes of sleep. But the sacrifice doesn’t seem like one at all – most people were satisfied with their sleep habits and sex life despite spending more time awake in bed.

However, both sleep and sex can be ruined by one thing: a bad mattress. Going to bed on a bad mattress can decrease the quality and quantity of your sleep, which can negatively impact your sex life. Finding the right mattress can be difficult, but at Mattress Advisor, we do the hard work for you. Simply take the mattress quiz and let our experts find the perfect one for a good night’s rest. To learn more, head over to our best mattress for sex and best mattress for couples guides.

Methodology and Limitations

We surveyed 1,010 people about their sleep and sex habits. Respondents were 51 percent male and 49 percent female. The average age of respondents was 37.4 with a standard deviation of 11.9.

Participants had to report having sex within the past year to answer questions related to sexual frequency.

The average nightly hours of sleep and average monthly days having sex were calculated to exclude outliers in the data.

The hours of sleep people give up to have sex each month were calculated by multiplying the number of minutes of sleep respondents said they lost due to having sex by the number of days per month they typically had sex. The resulting figure was then divided by 60 to calculate the number of hours. We then calculated averages for various demographics using this formula.

In parts of this project, data were looked at by relationship status. People were given the following options:

  • Single
  • In a relationship
  • Married
  • Divorced
  • Separated
  • Widowed

These were consolidated into two groups in our final visualization of the data. “In a relationship” and “married” were combined into one group labeled “in a relationship.” “Single,” “divorced,” “separated,” and “widowed” were combined into a second group labeled “single.”

Respondents were given various scenarios and asked how willing they would be to give up sleep for sex in each scenario. They were given the following answer options for each scenario:

  • Not at all willing
  • Slightly willing
  • Somewhat willing
  • Moderately willing
  • Extremely willing

These were then grouped into two groups: “not at all willing” and “willing.” The “willing” group consisted of those who answered slightly willing, somewhat willing, moderately willing, and extremely willing.

The main limitation of this study is that the results rely on self-reported data. There are many issues with the nature of self-reporting, which include but are not limited to attribution, exaggeration, and telescoping. Therefore, the claims solely rely on anecdotal accounts of sleep and sexual satisfaction. Additionally, the claims presented throughout this study have not been tested for statistical significance.

Fair Use Statement

A midnight romp can be fun and set you up for sound slumber afterward, but be careful about how much time you’re devoting to late night or early morning activities. If someone you know is sacrificing sleep for sex, you can share this study with them for any non-commercial reuse. Be sure to include a link back here so readers can have all the information.