Study reveals sex before bed can nearly double your REM sleep

The bedroom is typically reserved for two things: sex and sleep.

It can be a big problem if you’re not getting enough of either but, luckily, recent research from sleep blog The Dozy Owl suggests fixing one could help fix the other.

Read more: What is deep sleep and how can you get more of it?

Sleep enthusiasts at The Dozy Owl were intrigued to find out whether sex before bed can impact our sleep cycles. They conducted a study looking into the impact of different sex positions on our REM sleep by asking 1652 participants to wear a sleep monitor to bed after having sex in one designated position.

Participants tried out each of the chosen 25 popular positions over a three-month period, revealing the sex positions that improve our REM sleep the most.

REM sleep
Rapid Eye Movement is seen as the most important stage of the sleep cycle as it stimulates areas of the brain essential for learning and memory.

When you enter REM sleep, brain activity increases, meaning the sleep is not as deep as non-REM sleep. The activity levels are similar to when you’re awake, and typically this is the stage where you’ll have the most intense dreams.

At the same time, major muscles that you normally control can’t move. In effect, they become temporarily paralysed.

Usually, REM sleep arrives about an hour-and-a-half after you go to sleep. The first REM period lasts about 10 minutes. Each REM stage that follows gets longer and longer.

The percentage of REM sleep that you experience decreases with age and research has shown that a lack of quality sleep can lead to a decline in mood, libido, and romantic motivation.

Read more: Surprising things that might be affecting your sex drive

The findings
The study found that having sex before bed can increase REM sleep by an average of 8 per cent, with men seeing a 12 per cent average increase but women only seeing a 2 per cent average increase.

Alex Ion from The Dozy Owl contributes this to “women being more mentally stimulated during intercourse than men who are more physically stimulated. Women are, therefore, more likely to be alert after sex, whereas men are typically tired after ejaculation.”

Sex positions that increase REM the most
Overall, doggy style was found to be the sex position that increased REM sleep the most, as participants saw a surprising 43 per cent increase.

Close behind though are the lotus position (39 per cent increase), the eagle (35 per cent) and the bridge (30 per cent).

Average REM
of Male Participants
After Sex (%)
Average REM
of Female Participants
After Sex (%)
Total Average
REM After Sex (%)
Increase from Average
REM (23%)
1Doggy Style35303343
4The Bridge32283030
7The Caboose26332822
9Leap Frog31222717

Sex positions that decrease REM the most
However, if you’re looking for a good night’s kip, the study revealed a few positions to avoid just before bed. The corkscrew was found to decrease REM sleep the most, by 26 per cent. Likewise, a horizontal 69 saw a 22 per cent drop, alongside the spider and standing sex with a 17 per cent reduction each.

RankSex PositionAverage REM
Male Participants
After Sex (%)
Average REM
Female Participants
After Sex (%)
Total Average
REM After Sex %)
Decrease from
Average REM (23%)
1The corkscrew16181726
2Horizontal 6916201822
3The Spider19191917
4Standing sex18201917
7Pretzel Dip2221224
8Ballet Dancers2917230
10Magic Mountain2124230

What do you think? Will you be trying any of these positions out? Or are you waiting for more studies to be completed?

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Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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