The Science Behind Why Men Always Fall Asleep After Sex
Spoiler alert: it’s not a negative sign of your relationship.
Don’t be insulted if your partner starts sawing logs right after your most intimate moments together. Men fall asleep after sex for several main reasons, none of which are related to your relationship, personality or performance in bed. (Hey—did you know one in 10 women have this sexual disorder?)
His body is transformed
“A man’s body chemistry changes after orgasm,” says David McKenzie, a sex therapist in Vancouver. “The biochemical prolactin is released, physically altering his body and making him very tired.”
In contrast, women may not orgasm every time they have sex. So, after rocking your lover’s world, you may still be semi-aroused and have the energy to talk about love and life while he’s drifting off to dreamland.
Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg, M.D., authors of Why Do Men Fall Asleep After Sex?, offer an additional biological explanation: “It is thought that exertion during sex and after climax depletes the muscles of energy-producing glycogen. This leaves men feeling sleepy. Since men have more muscle mass than women, men become more tired after sex.”
Leyner and Goldberg state that there is little direct evidence to explain men falling asleep, though, after orgasm, the chemicals oxytocin, prolactin, gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) and endorphins all contribute to that “roll over and snore” feeling. These chemicals and endorphins are part of what happens to your brain when you have sex.
He’s lost that spiritual feeling
Tantric sex focuses on the enlightening, spiritual aspects of sex. The merging of two bodies is a sacred act that increases awareness by channeling energy and lifting the couple to a different plane. Sex and orgasm is the pinnacle of spiritual awareness, and represents the unification of male and female energy.
Leyner and Goldberg suggest that since a man’s orgasm is external, it causes the loss of that energy (through ejaculation). This loss of energy is also associated with a decrease in activation through the prefrontal cortex, research shows. The prefrontal cortex switches off post-orgasm, so men might get sleepy because this part of the brain involves consciousness, alertness, and mental activity. In contrast, a woman’s orgasm is an internal explosion of energy. Since she doesn’t experience that same outward loss of energy, she’s ready to cuddle for hours.
He’s just not that into talking
Laurie Betito, a Montreal psychologist specializing in sex therapy, says, “Women like to ‘process’ their experiences, hence the desire to talk after sex.”
Communication tends to be easier and more natural for women. If a man isn’t a great communicator at the best of times, he’ll be even less likely to engage in a heart-to-heart when he’s flat on his back.
According to sex therapist Ian Kerner, cuddling after sex helps to reinforce intimacy, attachment and an overall sense of connection and commitment. Studies show that the partners of people who fall asleep right after sex have a greater desire for more bonding and affection—no matter who falls asleep after sex. So, finding ways to bond after sex can strengthen your whole relationship.
3 ways to keep him awake
To increase the cuddles after sex:
- Initiate a lovefest before eating breakfast, lunch or dinner (he may be less likely to fall asleep if he’s hungry). Then, bond over scrambled eggs or a candlelit meal.
- Do the wild thing early in the evening, such as before his favourite TV show. Avoid having sex late at night when you’re tired, which almost guarantees the Zs. There’s actually a scientific reason why you should have sex before going to bed.
- Compromise on a predetermined amount of time to cuddle after sex. If you want to talk for 30 minutes and he only wants to give you five, meet somewhere in the middle: say, 15 minutes.
It’s not all about him
Human Sexuality author and psychologist Roger R. Hock writes that “both men and women usually feel relaxed, warm, content and sleepy” after sex. One of our sex experts offers a slightly different perspective: “Not all men fall asleep after sex. Some do enjoy cuddling or talking afterwards,” says Dr McKenzie. “Sometimes it’s the female partner who falls asleep first.”
If he does keep marching off to the land of nod every time you have sex, remember that sleepiness doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship isn’t strong or close or that he doesn’t love you. On the contrary, his Zs may actually prove happiness and satisfaction.