Feeling sleepy after a session of self-love isn’t unusual. We’ve all felt the desire to snooze after hitting the “Big O” from time to time. But why does masturbation make you tired? Is it a psychological thing, something physical, or is it all about the chemicals?
One of the biggest benefits of masturbation is its ability to help us manage stress and relax. The more relaxed you are, the more likely you’ll be to drift off into a peaceful slumber.
However, masturbation won’t always send you off into dreamland. You might end up disappointed if you’re relying on your alone time to cure your insomnia.
Here’s what you need to know about feeling sleepy after masturbating.
Does masturbation make you sleepy?
Masturbation is a great thing. It’s fun, easy to do, and it’s got a host of health benefits associated with it – including better sleep. As mentioned above, masturbation helps with relaxation by helping you scratch a very specific itch.
It’s also great for inhibiting the release of the hormone cortisol – the chemical often associated with stress.
As well as making you feel relaxed, masturbation can also give you a dose of feel-good hormones which get you in the right mood for sleep. The benefits are particularly significant when masturbation leads to orgasm, but any pleasure is definitely a good way to bring a smile to your face.
Some scientists also believe the impact masturbation has on sleep is a kind of placebo effect. Research shows if you believe orgasms and masturbation are going to help you sleep, they probably will.
When you’re snuggled up in bed, warm, comfortable, and satisfied, your brain might assume sleep is the obvious next step.
Why do I feel tired after ejaculating?
While all kinds of masturbation can be a lot of fun, the solo sessions ending in orgasm are probably the ones most likely to make you feel sleepy. When you orgasm, your body releases a huge range of chemicals, from serotonin and oxytocin to prolactin and vasopressin.
Substances like serotonin and oxytocin reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) and make you feel euphoric, blissful, and relaxed. Vasopressin has a handy antidiuretic effect, meaning you won’t feel like you need to rush to the bathroom during your post-orgasm bliss.
Even more interestingly, vasopressin could also help to reduce pain and stress.
Prolactin, mixed with endorphins, make you feel satisfied, happy, and just good about life. This mixture of helpful hormones can put you in the right mind frame for a good night’s sleep, but they work best when they’re mixed with orgasm.
Does masturbation make you tired without an orgasm?
As noted above, masturbation can make you feel sleepy even if you don’t get to the point of orgasm, but it’s more likely to leave you feeling pent-up and frustrated. The studies into the impact of masturbation on sleep with or without orgasm are seriously limited.
One (limited) study revealed inability to sleep without having an orgasm could be linked to the placebo effect mentioned above, and our belief we need to orgasm to doze off.
Masturbation can also release hormones like testosterone, which is released during sex to improve arousal and stamina. If you’re feeling packed full of stamina and ready to go all night, you’re probably not going to drift off into a peaceful sleep straight away.
Failure to orgasm also means your body may release epinephrine and norepinephrine, but it may not release things like dopamine to counteract the adrenaline-boosting impact of those initial hormones.
You can also find yourself struggling to sleep without an orgasm for psychological reasons.
If you always indulge in your alone time before sleeping, you might have taught your brain to expect an orgasm before bed. A lot of people have a higher sex drive at night naturally, and it can be tough to counteract the desire.
If you masturbate before bed, but don’t orgasm, or you don’t have any kind of sexual relief, you’re likely to be kept awake by your sex drive.
What if I feel more awake after masturbating?
The science shows masturbation can definitely make you feel sleepy – but it won’t always do so. If you’re more likely to feel awake after orgasm, that’s normal too.
Think about it this way, when you masturbate, blood is flowing rapidly to all of the different parts of your body at once, alerting your brain, muscles, and nervous system. As you build to climax, that epinephrine and norepinephrine starts to build, creating a sense of alertness.
A lot of people actually prefer to masturbate in the morning, because they get a dose of energy, plus the mood boost of oxytocin and serotonin.
Masturbation can also be a great way to clear your head and improve your focus. The mix of chemicals you get from orgasm are similar to those you get from meditation – making self-love great for clearing your head.
If you’ve ever found it easier to focus or make decisions after “getting off,” this is why. There is such a thing as “post-nut clarity”, though there’s no scientific study to explain it.
Masturbating in the morning also means you can concentrate on the day ahead without sexual thoughts constantly popping into your brain. This can be particularly useful for people with a high sex drive.
Why are there different responses to masturbation?
So why do some people struggle to stay awake after masturbation, and others act like they’ve just had their first espresso shot? It’s hard to know for certain, as research into the effects of masturbation is disappointingly limited.
One study suggests the release of prolactin at orgasm has something to do with it. During sleep, your prolactin levels are naturally higher.
When animals receive prolactin supplements, they immediately become tired – we can assume similar things are true for humans. But you don’t always get the same amount of prolactin from masturbation.
Higher levels of prolactin are generally associated with better orgasms. Longer-lasting climaxes mean you release more prolactin, so you’ll be more likely to relax before sleep.
Conversely, if you masturbate before going to work and your body doesn’t release a lot of prolactin, there won’t be as many relaxing hormones to counteract the energizing ones.
What if I need to masturbate to sleep?
As mentioned above, psychology can have a huge impact on how masturbation affects you. Routine often plays a big part in successful sleeping practices.
Most doctors will usually recommend creating a night-time routine if you’re having trouble sleeping. Some routines might include a cup of chamomile tea before bed, but for others, a quick climax works just as well.
If you get used to masturbation as part of your sleep routine, you might convince yourself you can’t sleep without it. The good news is masturbation doesn’t really cause any harm unless you’re doing it to the point where you’re chafing.
There’s a risk almost any behavior can turn into a compulsion or addiction over time. If you get to the point where you feel out of control, or guilty about your habits, you should probably talk to a doctor.
For the most part, you shouldn’t worry about wanting to masturbate most nights before bed. Some doctors have even discussed prescribing masturbation for depression, sleep, and countless other benefits.
One study from 2004 even found orgasms activate the immune system – so it’s a great way to fight off those winter colds.
If you really want to get a good night’s sleep, remember there are other ways to boost your chances of falling asleep after climax, too – like avoiding blue light on your screens and making sure your room is set up for relaxation, with plenty of cosy blankets.