A national survey on how sexual activity is perceived to be associated with sleep


There is a paucity of studies investigating how sexual activity is perceived to influence sleep, despite conceptions about significant gender differences regarding this issue. In all, 4000 persons, aged between 18 and 55 years, were randomly drawn from the Norwegian Population Registry and invited to participate in a postal survey. The respondents were asked how sexual activity with another person, with or without orgasm, and how masturbation, with and without orgasm, influenced sleep latency and sleep quality. A total of 1080 persons participated (response rate 28.2%) of which 56.1% were women. The mean age of the sample was 38.7 years (SD = 10.8). Sexual activity with an orgasm was perceived to have a soporific effect by both men and women. Sexual activity with another person, with an orgasm, was perceived to have a relatively stronger effect on men compared to women in terms of sleep quality. Sexual activity without an orgasm was by men reported to have a sleep impairing effect, whereas the perceived effect reported by women was equivocal. Sexual activity with orgasms was perceived as having a soporific effect in both men and women. Sexual activity without an orgasm had an equivocal perceived effect on sleep.

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This work was support by a grant from the Norwegian Competence Center for Sleep Disorders, Haukeland University Hospital and also financed by the University of Bergen, Norway.

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Correspondence to Ståle Pallesen.

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The authors have no potential conflicts of interest.

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Regional Committee for Medical and Health Related Research Ethics in Western Norway (2015/2047). The study was conducted in line with the Declaration of Helsinki.

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Consent was regarded provided by completing the survey—in line with approval from the Regional Committee for Medical and Health Related Research Ethics in Western Norway.

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Pallesen, S., Waage, S., Thun, E. et al. A national survey on how sexual activity is perceived to be associated with sleep. Sleep Biol. Rhythms 18, 65–72 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41105-019-00246-9

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  • Gender differences
  • Orgasm
  • Sexual activity
  • Sleep onset latency
  • Sleep quality
  • Soporific effect