Falling Asleep (Too Soon!) After Sex?

Passing out immediately after sex (so they tell me) is one of life’s great pleasures, when you’re the one doing the slumbering. For the slumberee, having no company for your post-sex lull, with the possible exception of some snores, can be very far from a great pleasure. In fact, sometimes it’s enough to annul a good deal of the enjoyment.

There are a few reasons why falling asleep straight after sex is more often than not a male practice. There is one simple reason why it doesn’t have to be that way. In a word, it all boils down to equality between partners and here’s how to straighten it all out. This piece focuses on sex between a female and a male, but many of the principles are similar for gay sex.

Sex is an Effort

Sex always demands the output of energy. Even in the laziest of positions, our bodies should be working and that means muscles are being used and calories are burning. Of course it is easier for a woman to be passive in sex, when she lies flat on her back, which incurs extra work for her partner, who has to hold carry the burden of holding and controlling his weight, thrusting and moving.

Different positions demand various levels of effort for each of the partakers. The more movement between positions and exchange of weight control, the better the balance of energy output. This translates to more huffing and puffing for both partners, not only one of you, and thereby a more equatable muscle workout.

Just as other forms of exercise bring on a healthy tiredness and a better, heavier sleep, so will a good sexual workout.

Orgasm is an Effort

It may be more obvious to understand how the male orgasm is a major bodily exertion because of the semen produced and ejected, but similar muscles to those that draw the semen from the prostate gland and force it out in the form of ejaculate are functioning for the woman when she orgasms. The pelvic floor muscles, including those of the vagina and uterus experience high levels of tension, and upon orgasm they contract, shaking and shuddering to your delight.

Well orchestrated sex usually involves orgasm for both partners; in fact, the woman should have many more orgasms than her male partner and certainly not fewer.

When the effort is similar and both partners orgasm to their satisfaction, the level of post-coital tiredness should be comparable. The tiredness delta can stem from either one partner not orgasming (and faking it doesn’t count, unless the act is so good, that it leaves you convinced as much as it convinced your guy) or from orgasming at different times.

It is unfortunately accepted that women be allowed to orgasm during foreplay, and then the attention is switched to his orgasm. After her orgasm(s), and women may feel great relaxation that might otherwise have transformed to tiredness, but since the sex does not stop at this time, her lull cannot be indulged. (There’s a lesson in that, by the way).

For those women who are able to orgasm from penetration, they may be able to continue to further orgasms, but for the majority of women, despite the ongoing stimulation they will receive, their peak is behind them. This means that when the sexual act is finally closed with his orgasm (or his decision to stop), she will be aroused but not done, in the same way.


Orgasm shoots hormones through the blood stream. Two of the main players are prolactin and oxytocin, which facilitate sleep.

So if you’re both partaking in sex but only one of you is really drowsy afterwards, maybe there’s something missing for one of you?


The effect, the hormones, the general relaxation are real, but they do not have to mean that sleep is automatic and it is urgent. No one likes to be fallen asleep on (well, there are some strange ones in every group, or perhaps a few wanting to make a very, very quick exit). When a partner expects intimacy from sex, having the time immediately after sex usurped can be isolating and disconcerting.

You don’t need to start up an intellectual debate, but getting used to remaining attached to the partner with whom you were just experiencing orgasm, is to a large extent a matter of habit. That means just holding on to the intimacy, whether it is through touch, holding, a few words, or just lying back and moaning together. It needs just a moment – each person and each sex act has its appropriate amount of time – which for you or your lover can be the difference between an intimate meeting and sex that leaves you feeling pipped at the post.

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