Introduction: The etiological role of sleep disturbance in sexual difficulties has been largely overlooked. Research suggests that short sleep duration and poor sleep quality lead to poor female sexual response. However, prior research consists of cross-sectional studies, and the influence of sleep on sexual functioning and behavior has not been prospectively examined.
Aim: We sought to examine the influence of nightly sleep duration, sleep quality, and sleep onset latency on daily female sexual response and activity.
Methods: This study used a longitudinal design to study 171 women free of antidepressants and with reliable Internet access who were recruited from a university setting in the United States. Participants first completed baseline measures in a laboratory, and then completed web-delivered surveys at their habitual wake time for 14 consecutive days.
Main outcome measures: All outcome measures were modified for daily recall. Participants completed the Profile of Female Sexual Function's desire, subjective arousal, and orgasmic functioning scales and the Female Sexual Function Index's genital arousal scale, and indicated whether they engaged in partnered sexual activity or self-stimulation in response to dichotomous items.
Results: Analyses revealed that longer sleep duration was related to greater next-day sexual desire (b = 0.32, P = 0.02), and that a 1-hour increase in sleep length corresponded to a 14% increase in odds of engaging in partnered sexual activity (odds ratio = 1.14, P < 0.05). In contrast, sleeping longer predicted poorer next-day genital arousal (b = -0.19, P < 0.01). However, results showed that women with longer average sleep duration reported better genital arousal than women with shorter average sleep length (b = 0.54, P = 0.03).
Conclusions: Obtaining sufficient sleep is important to the promotion of healthy sexual desire and genital response, as well as the likelihood of engaging in partnered sexual activity. These relationships were independent of daytime affect and fatigue. Future directions may investigate sleep disorders as risk factors for sexual dysfunction.
Keywords: Female Sexual Response; Insomnia; Sexual Dysfunction; Sleep Disturbance; Sleep Duration; Sleep Quality.
© 2015 International Society for Sexual Medicine.