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Older Women Who Do This Have Worse Sex, Says New Study

A big new study links poor sleep quality with a newly defined "female sexual dysfunction" in older women.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

There are practically a million reasons why you'd want to get a good night's sleep. You'll have a sharper brain, for starters. Also, you'll have a healthier heart, better blood sugar levels, and a lower chance of obesity and early death. (Oh, and your immune system will start every day firing on all cylinders as it should.)

But if you're an older woman who isn't getting enough quality sleep, a new study just published says there's yet another reason you may wish to power down earlier in the evenings and adhere to much better sleep habits: You're likely having way worse sex, assuming you're having any at all.

According to the study, published in Menopause, the official journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), women who get insufficient quality sleep may experience what the researchers describe to be a form of female sexual dysfunction.

Related: Never Do This If You Want Good Sleep, Say Health Experts

The study analyzed the sleep quality, sleep duration, and "sexual function" of more than 3,400 women with an average age of 53 years. Ultimately, the researchers concluded that bad sleep quality—and not necessarily the duration of the night's sleep—was linked with a greater risk of female sexual dysfunction. "Good sleep quality, in contrast, was linked with sexual activity," noted the study's official release.

"If you put a platter of sleep and a platter of sex in front of a tired woman, she's going to pick sleep every time," Stephanie Faubion, M.D., NAMS medical director, the director of the Mayo Clinic's Center for Women's Health, and the senior author of the study, remarked to CNN, regarding the study's findings.

Faubion says that the "female sexual dysfunction" noted in the study is largely defined as a low sexual desire that is specifically associated with feelings of distress. "You can't call it sexual dysfunction unless a woman is distressed about it," she further explained to CNN. "For example, a woman can have low sexual desire, but it may not bother her. So we are the first study to my knowledge that has actually looked at not only sexual function but distress related to that."

The study also found that women who slept less than five hours a night experienced a greater likelihood of experiencing "sexual problems."

If you'd like to get better sleep, consider trying some of these handy tips, all courtesy of The Mayo Clinic. And for more reasons you should be getting more sleep every day, see these Dangerous Side Effects of Not Sleeping, According to Experts.

1

Cut down on the noise and the light

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"Ban devices from your bedroom, and create a dark space by using blackout shades or an eye mask," notes the Mayo Clinic. "Noise also can interfere with your ability to sleep. Try using a fan or a noise machine to block out unwanted noises."

2

Stick to your routine

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"Just like kids, adults sleep better when they have a bedtime routine. Doing the same thing before bed each night can help prepare your body for rest and condition your brain for sleep."

3

Chill out

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"If your busy mind is keeping you up at night, try practicing stress management techniques before you go to bed."

4

If you can't sleep, get out of the bed

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"If you find yourself lying in bed stressing about your inability to sleep, get out of bed and do something that will promote relaxation. This might be reading an uninteresting book, practicing a relaxation technique or focusing on your breath. When you begin to feel drowsy, head back to bed." For more on the importance of not trying too hard when it comes to sleeping, read up on The Best Trick for Going Back to Sleep After Waking Up in the Middle of the Night.

William Mayle
William Mayle is a UK-based writer who specializes in science, health, fitness, and other lifestyle topics. Read more
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