Has "I'm too tired" become the new "I've got a headache"?
Today's average couple is always on the go and busy. Somehow getting through each day stretched for time, overworked and tired. It's not surprising then that being tired gets in the way of them having good sex on a regular basis -- but not in the way you might think. A big couple conundrum and question to me is, "How can we want sex when we're always so tired?"
My response: "Usually it's not the being tired that is preventing you from wanting sex."
An inevitable long and cold silence, followed with a brisk and defensive, "You don't think being tired plays havoc on people's sex lives?"
My response: "There's a reason sleep is considered the new sex. I think exhaustion is very real and a big concern for couples. No doubt, there are many times when a couple is too tired to have sex. Generally though, being tired shouldn't equate to a person's motivation to have sex (a.k.a. sexual desire)."
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One of the leading reasons you may say you are too tired for sex is that you don’t want to face a problem in your relationship. “It can be a lot easier to say you’re tired than to sit down and say there’s something we need to discuss,” notes Winston. Anger and resentment are among the emotions that could be contributing to tired sex. If you still can’t face the conversation alone, air it out with a therapist and rebuild your sex life.
“It’s easy to flop in front of the TV at the end of a long day,” Winston says. And then, before you know it, your partner has gone to sleep (alone) and you are fading, too, or facing sleep deprivation. Winston advises turning the screens off early and cuddling instead to jump-start your sex life. “It’s terrible to have a television in your bedroom, which should just be for intimacy and sleep,” she says. This advice applies to screens of all sorts — for better sex, remove work and video games from the time and space devoted to intimacy.
Being over-scheduled could mean that you truly are too stressed out even for tired sex. But good sex is so important to your personal quality of life and your partner’s life that it shouldn’t take a backburner to, say, volunteering for the rummage sale. “Look at your life and what you are doing,” says Winston. “You have to cut back somewhere,” but it shouldn’t be in terms of your sex life.
Once you are in the rut of tired sex or no sex, you might find that the pressure to perform is causing you to avoid the bedroom. Winston suggests taking a step back. “Ease off the pressure and just cuddle. Many times, that will lead naturally to sex, but if it doesn’t, so what?” Affection and tender physical contact are also important investments in your happiness and, ultimately, a better sex life.
Early warnings of heart disease include difficulty with erections, which can certainly impact your sex life. If you don’t have the “get up and go” you once had, consider talking to a cardiologist about your heart health and the health of your sex life. “Congestive heart failure makes you feel tired in general and takes away a lot of functionality, sex included,” says urologist Craig Niederberger, head of the department of urology at the University of Illinois in Chicago. When you have early warnings like fatigue, you could be less than five years from your first heart attack, so get it checked out.
When your hormones are out of whack, your sex life can peter to a standstill. “Libido is controlled in large part by testosterone,” says Dr. Niederberger. “So that’s the first thing I would look for.” Men can talk to a urologist and women to their ob-gyn if they are concerned that their hormones aren’t functioning correctly and, therefore, impeding good sex. A simple medical fix can put you on track to a better sex life.
If you are too tired for sex as well as everything and everyone else you used to enjoy, it’s possible that you are depressed and experiencing sleep loss or sleep deprivation. The first step to a better sex life is treating the depression. Talk to a therapist about how you can improve your mood and regain your enthusiasm for life. Depression treatment often includes medication, but many people can regain their joie de vivre through therapy and changes in diet, exercise, and sleep habits.
Tired sex might just be the result of boredom in general. One way to rebuild sexual energy and revive your sex life is to become passionate about something else. “If you have something to share about a hobby or a book you are reading, it gives you a little spark,” Winston says. So, whether your secret passion is amateur astronomy or Thai cooking, investigating it further can translate to good sex.
Exercise improves your sex life by keeping you fit enough to enjoy romping with your lover, but exercising too much could just wear you out. Everyone should get at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week, reminds Winston. Fit people can do more than that in a day, of course. But stop pushing yourself till you drop or, if you are training for a specific reason, talk to your trainer about when to take breaks and conserve energy for better sex, itself a fitness activity.
There is a strong link between sleep deprivation and a less-than-satisfactory sex life. A study of 827 men demonstrated that those who snored the most often had the least satisfying sex lives, although their sexual function was not impaired. Addressing the problem that keeps you from sleeping — whether it’s snoring or simply not getting enough sleep — can lead to a better sex life.
If you've been tired for months and sleep doesn't refresh you, you could have chronic fatigue syndrome. This condition, which often is at its worst at the end of the day, can slow you down to about half of your normal capability — and lead to tired sex. See your doctor for medical treatment and remember that your sex life is flexible. Try to be intimate during the time of day when you feel your best, even if that’s the middle of the morning — good sex can happen any time and anywhere.
The problem of pointing the finger of blame of "we're just too tired," is it usually covers up for other things that have gone wrong in the bedroom: lack of communication, build up of resentment, boring sex, the list goes on and on. It's easier for a couple to sidestep a huge argument(s) by not opening that Pandora's box. Agreeing that they are too tired becomes an easy salve on a big wound.
In fact, many men and women have confessed saying "I'm too tired" has become a bad habit -- they say it before they really think about whether they are or not.
Not to rub salt in the we're-not-having-enough-sex-wound but I know plenty of couples who have great sex lives -- exhausted or not. In fact, they have more sex when they are tired because it's their way of relaxing and feeling good -- given sex can flood the brain with wonderful, endorphins, oxytocin and so on.
Instead of focusing on a "symptom" of being exhausted, couples need to look at the bigger picture of how they are having sex. They also need to wrap their heads around creating more realistic expectations on what is doable for their present lifestyle and schedule.
Sex, like everything else in life, has its ebbs and flows. Sometimes there will be periods of upheavals having and it will be sex once a month. During calm periods, they can easily have sex once a week (if that's their frequency preference). Sometimes, albeit not often, they will look each other in the eyes and want rip each other's clothes off.
It all starts with a heart-to-heart talk outside the bedroom like, "This is our extremely busy situation for the next six months. What can we do sexually and/or to stay connected even if we aren't having as much sex as we'd like?"
If you're truly in a busy period of your life, forcing the "sex once a week" formula will probably cause more harm then it will do good. Instead focus on maintaining intimacy outside the bedroom: touching, kissing, being nice to each other.
Or if you're dealing more with the daily grind of life, scheduling sex is the easiest way for a couple to keep their sex life on the radar. It may not seem romantic and couples usually feel like failures because they can no longer have spontaneous sex; however, chances are if they don't schedule, it's not going to happen.
The upside to scheduling is it takes away any negative feelings of who is going to initiate sex and her walking around on egg shells wondering if "tonight is the night when I'll have to have sex." Research proves couples who schedule sex have more sex that is mutually satisfying.
So the next time the words, "I'm too tired" come out of your mouth as they relate to sex, think about how they are affecting your sex life overall. If you truly are too tired all the time, then maybe it's time to get some balance in your life. After all, we can only hold our partner at arm's length for so long before the relationship starts to suffer.
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