“I’m too tired” is the most common reason we turn down sex. (“I have a headache” is a close second.) My clients often tell me that they’re frustrated by how much their exhaustion gets in the way of their sex life. If you’re tired of being too tired for sex, here are long and short-term strategies for bringing more energy into the bedroom.
Being too tired for sex can actually be an invitation to take a deeper look at your relationship with sleep. If you’re exhausted all the time, that’s a pretty good sign that something needs to change. There’s just no getting around the fact that sleep is an essential part of our lives.
Are you giving your body the rest it needs to be healthy? Or are you prioritising other things over your sleep? This is obviously an enormous topic, and it brings up complex issues like socioeconomic status, privilege, and workaholism, but these are still questions worth asking yourself. If you frequently find yourself turning down sex because of exhaustion, here are some other long-term strategies that may help.
Develop better sleep hygiene
You can take maximum advantage of the sleep opportunities that you do have by practicing good sleep hygiene. I’m talking things like:
Limiting screen time before bed
Going to bed at the same time every night
Only using your bed for sex and sleep
Doing some light stretching or journaling before bed
Keeping cell phones out of the bedroom
Keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet
Using a weighted blanket
These are all things you probably already know, but may not be doing. I highly recommend working on your sleep hygiene. These tips aren’t that hard, and they can make a surprisingly big difference.
If you know that you have a sex date on Wednesday, you can put a little extra effort into getting a good night’s sleep the night before. Then clear out your commitments and prioritise getting home from work early the day of. Check out this article that I wrote about how to schedule sex and still enjoy it.
Think about sex during the day
Another way to keep your energy up is to think about sex during the day, especially if you’re planning on having it later that evening. A lot of my clients complain that trying to muster up the energy to get turned on in the moment feels too overwhelming.
But if you try to think about sex throughout the day and keep yourself at a low level of arousal, you may find it much easier to get excited about being with your partner later. Try daydreaming about your favourite sexual experiences with your partner, or reading a few pages of an erotic novel at lunchtime. You can also text with your partner during the day about the things you’d like to do together that evening.
Have sex as early as possible
This is one of the most practical suggestions I give to my clients. So many of us wait until the very end of the evening to even think about having sex. But by the time your head is hitting the pillow, it’s just too late. At that point, sex feels like a sleep thief.
Instead, try to have sex as early in the day or evening as possible. You’re of course going to run into challenges depending on your schedules, responsibilities, or kids, but the second the two of you are alone together, go for it. Or try for morning sex!
In the short term
OK, so let’s say that you’ve neglected the advice above. It’s 11:47 at night, and your partner scoots over to your side of the bed. You’re exhausted, but beneath the exhaustion, you actually do want to be intimate with your partner. You just wish you weren’t so damn tired. Here are some additional steps you can take.
Remind yourself of the benefits of sex
Many of my clients tell me that sex doesn’t usually feel super tempting in the moment, especially if they’re tired. But after they have sex, they think, “Wow, that was actually really fun. Why don’t I do that more often?”
If you find yourself struggling to get motivated to have sex with your partner, remind yourself how you usually feel during and after intimacy. Think about the pleasure that you feel during sex, how connected you feel to your partner when you’re looking them in the eyes, the goofy pillow talk you usually have after sex, or even how deeply you usually sleep after sex. That can give you a little extra motivation to get going in the moment.
Move your body
If you were already in bed when your partner gave you “the look,” try getting out of bed. Shake off the sleepiness. Do a little stretching or some tidying up. Push your partner up against the wall and make out with them standing up. Sometimes getting out of bed and getting your body moving can give you a jolt of energy.
Touch your partner
You can also try having some form of physical contact with your partner. This can help get your energy up as well. If you were already in bed, try getting up and making out on the sofa or undressing each other. (Just don’t do things that usually make you sleepy, like cuddling in bed or having your partner massage you while you lie face down on the bed.)
Plus, a lot of people have responsive sex drives, meaning that they need to feel physical stimulation in order to start feeling mental desire. If you get some form of physical contact going, you very well may find the energy to do more!