Could Masturbation Cure Your Insomnia?

by Martin Reed Patient Advocate

Insomnia can have a dramatic effect on your sex life. In fact, it can even destroy your sex drive entirely. But it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. By understanding how our bodies react to sexual pleasure, we can actually take steps to improve our sleep. One of those steps may be to masturbate more often!

Many sleep issues are caused by stress, worry, anxiety, and negative thoughts towards sleep. As a result, many of the recommended interventions target these common causes of insomnia. For example, studies have found that relaxation routines such as yoga and meditation can improve sleep because of the mental and muscular relaxation that they promote.

It makes sense, therefore, that sexual activity can also have a sedative effect – and a partner isn't necessarily required.

Orgasms, regardless of their source, release prolactin – a hormone produced by the pituitary gland. Prolactin's primary role is to help stimulate milk production after childbirth. However, both men and women (even women who aren't pregnant or mothers) produce the hormone, albeit at lower levels.

Studies have found that prolactin levels rise and fall in line with our sleep cycle; prolactin levels are typically lower in the morning and rise throughout the day, reaching their highest levels in the late afternoon, evening and night. This acts similar to how melatonin levels rise and fall over the course of a day.

Increased levels of prolactin are also typically seen after orgasm, and it's thought that this is what's responsible for the subsequent feelings of relaxation and sleepiness. This, paired with the knowledge that prolactin and melatonin behave in similar ways have led experts to believe that prolactin may work to help regulate our sleep.

Reducing Pain and Altering Emotions

After orgasm, our bodies also release oxytocin. This hormone reduces cortisol levels, helping to increase relaxation and reduce stress. The release of oxytocin also triggers the release of endorphins which can relieve pain and have a sedative effect.

So if pain is keeping you awake at night, take note - levels of vasopressin are known to increase after sexual activity. Vasopressin is a hormone that has been found to have analgesic effects on the body.

The sedative effect of orgasms should not be taken lightly. A groundbreaking Dutch study determined that at the point of orgasm, women are effectively disconnected from emotional feelings. After mapping brain function during orgasm, scientists found that one area of the brain responsible for governing emotions such as fear and anxiety was effectively 'switched off.’

Although masturbation is unlikely to cure long-term, chronic insomnia, it may certainly be of help if you're struggling with the occasional sleepless night. However, If you've been struggling with sleep for a long period of time, it’s advised that you schedule time to speak with your doctor.

Martin Reed
Meet Our Writer
Martin Reed

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Coach, an eight-week course that combines online sleep education with individual sleep coaching. His course helps clients improve their sleep so they can enjoy a better life with more energy and start each day feeling happy, healthy, rested, and refreshed. Martin also runs a free sleep training course that has helped over 5,000 insomniacs. He holds a master’s degree in health and wellness education and studied clinical sleep health at the University of Delaware.