After months of social distancing and stress, it may be no surprise that our sex lives are suffering. In fact, recent statistics show just a third of British adults are satisfied with their sex life, with one-in-five blaming a low libido (1). We spoke to the Innermost experts to find out what can be done…
Max Kirsten, The Sleep Coach (credit: Resident Sleep Expert at Innermost and The Sleep Coach)
As a sleep coach, I am rarely asked by my sleep deprived insomnia clients about the benefits of improved sleep quality and sleep duration on intimacy and sex life. In fact, by under sleeping by just 30-60 minutes less than you really require each night (which for most adults is about 7 to 8 hours), can greatly reduce our desire for sex and make us seem less attractive to others. But why?
- Sleeping less than we need can cause an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, which is known to reduce sexual desire. Less sleep also reduces testosterone levels, reducing the frisky desire for spontaneous and frequent sex.
- Hormonal changes combined with feeling more stressed makes our skin look pale and less healthy, making us not only look, but also to feel less attractive to others.
It’s also a fact that having more sex increases sleep quality afterwards. But why?
- We release an important intimacy hormone called oxytocin, which naturally reduces our stress cortisol levels dramatically.
- Having an orgasm will help you fall asleep because it releases the hormone prolactin that makes you feel relaxed and very sleepy.
Finally, here’s a few helpful tips to improve intimacy and sleep quality:
- A hot bath or shower feeling clean at bedtime, ideally together.
- Your bedroom at night should only be for relaxation, so stay free from electronics, including your mobile phone, for at least 90 mins before bed.
- Lower the lights and start to slowly relax together between the sheets.
- Natural supplements containing magnesium, vitamin B complex and other natural ingredients that promote sleep quality, including The Relax Capsules (£18.95)
Eleanor Thrupp, The Nutritional Therapist (credit: Nutritional Therapist at Innermost)
Poor diet isn’t necessarily one of the main causes of low libido, but it can become a symptom. Anxiety and stress can affect food choices as they increase the likelihood of consuming foods high in fat, salt, sugar and refined carbohydrates. Diets high in sugar encourage fat storage which can affect the endocrine system by producing oestriol (a form of oestrogen) from your fat store. This can reduce libido as it causes an increase in sex hormone-binding globulin which mops up androgens that drive libido. So, what foods could contribute to good libido?
- Ginger – Ginger has been used as a natural stimulant to increase sexual arousal and libido as it can increase blood flow. Found in The Digest Capsules, £18.95.
- Maca – Maca powder is made from the native Peruvian maca root plant and can be easily added to smoothies, juices or sprinkled on top of porridge. It has many health benefits including improving sexual desire and semen production. It also has mood-boosting, anxiety-easing and energising properties to help the libido. Found in The Fit Protein, £29.95 and The Recover Capsules, £18.95.
- Dark chocolate – Dark chocolate contains phenylethylamine which is known as the ‘love chemical’ – it acts as a natural aphrodisiac while the cocoa content increases blood flow. Check out any of our chocolate flavoured protein blends that all contain cocoa.
- Flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds – These are high in omega-3 fatty acids which can increase dopamine and serotonin hormone production creating a happier, healthier and heightened desire all-round.
And what foods might contribute to a low libido?
- Mint – The menthol in mint lowers men’s testosterone levels which reduces their sex drive.
- Cheese – Most cheese comes from cow’s milk which often contains high levels of synthetic hormones. These can interfere with your body’s natural production of hormones, including oestrogen and testosterone which can impact your sex drive and lower libido.
- Caffeine – Caffeine dehydrates the body and has a negative effect on the adrenal glands which when combined with stress and anxiety, can decrease your libido.
Emma Ford, The Personal Trainer (Fitness Expert at Innermost)
It might sound obvious, but the more we exercise and take care of our body, generally speaking, the better we feel physically thus increasing self-confidence and desire in the bedroom. It’s also no secret that exercise increases a release in hormones such as cortisol, oestrogen, prolactin, oxytocin and testosterone which are essential for a good sex life. But what are the best forms of exercise to get you feeling ready for action?
- Yoga – Relaxes and calms the body and mind which increases essential hormones for good libido. Even better, partner yoga can help increase these hormones even more as a result of movements that require physical touch. Also, check out The Relax Capsules, £18.95.
- Resistance Training – Not only does resistance training help change body composition, it can also leave you feeling strong, powerful, and sexy. The Strong Protein (£29.95) is formulated to maximise muscle growth, strength and power output.
- HIIT – Brilliant for building stamina and endurance meaning you really can make the most of being in the bedroom! HIIT gives you a sudden rush in blood flow and releases powerful endorphins. Check out The Energy Booster, £24.95.
Innermost offer a range of science-backed nutritional supplements packed with ingredients sourced from nature that serve as wellness solutions to a wide range of health needs across body and mind. Learn more at www.liveinnermost.com.