Who hasn’t been there? You’re having a hard time sleeping; maybe you’re on your phone to distract yourself a bit, perhaps you’ve read a few chapters of a book. You just want to knock out, but you’re not quite getting there.
What to do? It can be hard to get sleepy when your heart rate won’t go down, or your endorphins are really going. Fun fact: releasing sexual tension through masturbation (with or without a male masturbator) and orgasm can cause you to get relaxed, tired, and sleepy. While this is true for anyone, it’s especially true for men/penis-owners, and we’re going to delve into why that’s the case.
Bodies are fickle things, and we humans can believe even weirder things about our bodies than are actually true. For example: Does masturbation cause your hair to fall out? (No.) Or: Does Masturbation Cause Acne? (Also, no.)
Does masturbating help you sleep?
In general, sexual activity, whether it’s with a sex partner or solo, sexual pleasure, releases lots of dopamine into your system. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that causes you to feel pleasure, satisfaction, and motivation. Plus, ejaculation and other types of orgasm cause oxytocin to be released — the main driver in helping you feel good and improving your mood. Oxytocin released from that magical climax also helps mitigate stress levels by lowering your cortisol level.
Many people are familiar with the fact that after ejaculation, a man/penis owner is prone to rolling over and falling asleep. This is in large part because, according to science journalist and author Melinda Wenner, “Research shows that during ejaculation, men release a cocktail of brain chemicals, including norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin, nitric oxide, and the hormone prolactin.”
You might not have heard of that last hormone (prolactin), but it’s one of the ones the most associated with tiredness. Your levels of prolactin go up naturally when you’re sleeping, and animals who are injected with it immediately become tired. Researchers believe there’s a strong tie between prolactin and sleep, so its release during a man’s orgasm is likely part of why men, in particular, want to catch some Z’s right after the big O.
Related articles from reputable sources like Dr. Nicole Prause, Healthline, The Mayo Clinic, and Planned Parenthood also have valuable, in-depth information on the relationship between sleep, masturbation/sexual health, and hormone release.
There are plenty of benefits for vulva-owners, too. For example, female masturbation might help you sleep when suffering from menstrual cramps. Why? Because orgasm prompts the release of hormones like serotonin and dopamine, which help you relax and can therefore assist in minimizing menstrual cramps. Alongside an increase in blood flow, your body’s pain tolerance will also rise, helping you get to that delicious warm sleep you’ve been craving.
If you want to find your way to orgasmic sleep a little sooner, there are plenty of sex toys and tips to help you get there. Great options for male masturbators and strokers abound, and some suction-style or air pulse stimulators can even mimic oral sex. Let the excitement and relaxation begin. :)
Speaking of which, there’s no time like the present to learn more about how to masturbate for women and folks with a vagina and learn some tips on how to masturbate for men and people with penises!
Does masturbation without orgasm prevent sleep?
There’s nothing wrong with having masturbation as a regular part of your sex life, and masturbation as a solo or partnered sexual pleasure practice is generally relaxing. In fact, if you’re really feeling that relaxation, you might just nod right off with your respective penis/vulva in or under your hand. (This is great for sleeping, but not so great if you’ve got roommates and have fallen asleep in the living room. Ahem.)
Orgasm doesn’t have to be the goal, either. Some penis owners/men experience sexual dysfunction symptoms like erectile dysfunction due to medication, medical treatments for prostate cancer or other complications from a medical procedure. It doesn’t matter whether you can get to ejaculation or even orgasm. Just because your pleasure script isn’t the same as other people’s, that doesn’t mean your desire to have sexual intercourse and sexual satisfaction is any less important or that the nerve endings on your sexy bits deserve any less love.
Is it normal if I can't sleep after masturbating?
Unfortunately, masturbating before bed isn’t some sort of magic bullet in terms of getting you to sleep. Our bodies are complex, and their responses are often just as intricate. There are plenty of reasons why you might be unable to sleep after masturbating. Maybe you’ve had too much caffeine, or you’re stressed about a work project or life event. If you’re having trouble sleeping, here are a few quick tips on finally getting that shut-eye:
1. As much as you can, go to sleep at the same time every night. Research shows this can help you feel more rested, boost your immune system, and have mood-stabilizing effects.
2. Refrain from using screens for at least an hour before bed (TV, phones, and laptops all count). If screens are a must, get blue-blocker glasses to help your brain know it’s no longer daytime and therefore help you wind down better.
3. Try taking a warm shower before sleeping or lowering the ambient room temperature in your sleeping space. The feeling of a warm interior body temperature and cool sensation on the skin helps human beings fall asleep.
What if I can't sleep without masturbating?
A compulsive masturbation habit or excessive masturbation could potentially be signs of a sex or masturbation addiction. If you’re concerned, you can read more about whether masturbation is harmful and if you should masturbate everyday. If you’re unable to sleep without masturbating, you might want to seek professional help. Aspects of sexual medicine or a sex therapist may be able to help you overcome this attachment to orgasm prior to finally being able to sleep. If that doesn’t help, you might want to consult a sleep specialist to explore possible sleep disorders.
Conversely, issues with sexual health or an overactive sex drive could be signs of other problems, both physiological and psychological. It’s always a good idea to get support if you’re concerned about your sexual or mental health.
The perks of masturbating before bed
To review, masturbating before bed can reduce your stress level by releasing dopamine and oxytocin, reducing stress hormones like cortisol in your system. Getting in special touch with yourself before going to sleep can also help you get better quality sleep with or without orgasm.
Masturbation has health benefits on its own, but the way you masturbate can also contribute to a healthy sex life (or not.) You can do things like control premature ejaculation through a practice called “edging” (more on that in 12 Penis/Male Masturbation Tips).
Final interesting tidbits
If you’re having trouble sleeping, testosterone could be involved. While testosterone has been shown to affect levels of sexual desire, a lack of testosterone could also be contributing to your decreased sleep quality.
While masturbation doesn’t substantively affect your testosterone levels, there’s a link between low sleep quality, sleeping too few hours, and your body not replenishing its levels of testosterone, which can have additional side effects. So if you’re a man/penis-owner, you may want to get your testosterone levels checked.