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Attention New Parents! 5 Tips to Help You Balance Sex and Sleep

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I don't care what anybody says, including my wife. Sleep is better than sex: I do it seven days a week, I can last all night, and I don't have to cuddle. Could anything be hotter than sleep? Okay, of course I'm joking...sort of.

With a seven-year old son who's more scared of the monsters in the night than the monster I can be in the morning, "sleepus-interruptus" is a regular occurrence. And I know I'm not alone, and that many of you (particularly new parents) are reading this through the haze of exhaustion.

Tara Parker-Pope wrote on nytimes.com in a 2009 in a Q&A with Denise A. Donnelly, associate professor of sociology at Georgia State University,

"Married men and women, on average, have sex with their spouse 58 times a year, a little more than once a week, according to data collected from the General Social Survey, which has tracked the social behaviors of Americans since 1972."

She goes on to note that, "it’s estimated that about 15 percent of married couples have not had sex with their spouse in the last six months to one year."

Some studies estimate that over 40 million Americans are stuck in a sex rut, and I bet if you asked a bunch of those people what's going on they'd say that they're just too tired to have sex. And that's especially true of parents, (dads included!).

But the truth is, sex isn't tiring, it's rejuvenating. Sex relieves stress, helps with sleep, releases feel-good endorphins and boosts immunity. In fact it's so essential to our energy levels that I'd like to offer the following tips for making it happen.

Get the Yawns Out of Your Sex Life

1.) Exercise and eat right. Your sexual health is connected to your overall health, and it's no surprise that people who have sex more frequently are also healthier overall. If you're too tired for sex, it probably means you're too tired in other areas as well and that you're not taking care of yourself as well as you should.

2.) Turn off to turn on. Shut down your computer. Doing so will free up time to tune-in to your partner and turn on. When you look at all the time that gets sucked up by Facebook, surfing the web, and email, no wonder you're plopping in to bed exhausted and spent. Is your friend from the second grade who lives halfway across the country really more important than your sex life? I don't think so.

3.) Pinpoint and then minimize stress. Not only does stress release cortisol, which inhibits testosterone, but studies have also shown that for a woman to want to have sex (and to enjoy it) parts of the female brain associated with outside stressors need to deactivate. So figure out what's stressing you out and put together a plan with your partner to deal with it.

4.) Just do it! Sex begets sex and studies show that when you stop having sex your testosterone levels go down and you lose interest in sex. So my suggestion, "try it, you'll like it." It's easy to forget how much fun sex can be, and just having sex once a week will put you back in a regular groove.

5.) Accept your complicated relationship with sleep. For now, sleep and I will just have to content ourselves with a long-distance relationship. But I won't give up on us: some day we'll be together for a full eight hours. In the meantime I guess I'll just have to settle for sex. Which actually is pretty darn good.

I'd love to hear your suggestions, too. Please send them along (or better yet, post here!).

Ian Kerner, Ph.D., is a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author of She Comes First and Love in the Time of Colic and is certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists. For more information, visit goodinbed.com.

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