Early birds prefer to get to bed early and wake up early, whereas night owls would rather stay up late and sleep in — but do our internal clocks tick the same way when it comes to our appetite for sex?
One 2015 survey from the sex toy company Lovehoney found that men tend to want sex in the morning hours between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., while women tend to be in the mood at night between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.
Age may be a factor in our preferred sex schedules, too, sex therapist and neuroscience researcher Nan Wise said.
“As a rule, people become more like larks as they age. They like to go back to bed earlier and probably would be more interested in sex in the morning,” Wise, author of “Why Good Sex Matters,” told HuffPost. “Young people tend to be night owls and might be more available or interested in sex in the evening.”
But is there actually a “best” time of day to have sex? We turned to sex experts to get the pros and cons of doing the deed morning, afternoon and night. Here’s what they had to say.
“For testosterone-producing men, mornings are when the levels of testosterone are highest, since it’s made during sleep,” Robin Wilson-Beattie, a disability and sexuality advocate and educator, told HuffPost. “For some men, this means they have a better sexual response in the a.m.”
What’s more, feel-good neurotransmitters such as endorphins and dopamine are released during sex, “which is a great way to be in a good mood and start your day right,” sex therapist Nazanin Moali, host of the podcast “Sexology,” said.
Early birds may feel extra energetic or enthusiastic in the morning hours, which could make them more game for sex at that time, Wise added.
But there are some potential drawbacks, too — namely that mornings tend to be hectic for people who have to juggle getting ready for work, trying to get the kids off to school and other to-dos. A tight schedule can make it hard for some people to be fully present and in the mood for sex.
“Additionally, stress may lead to struggles with sexual functioning — which, in turn, may result in disappointment and not how you would want to start your morning,” Moali said.
Some people may feel energized by morning sex, but for others, getting busy in the a.m. can make them want to curl up in bed and go back to sleep. The cocktail of hormones released during sex and orgasm can make you feel uber-relaxed but also tired, which isn’t ideal when you’re about to face the day.
“For some, orgasms and sexual activity are exhausting and [they] need rest and emotional care afterward,” Wilson-Beattie said. “And you might not have time for that!”
Sex at night is popular for a reason, Wilson-Beattie said. It’s only after the events of the day are behind them that partners finally have a chance to relax and connect without distractions.
“With work, children and activities, nighttime is when things slow down and it’s just you and your partner, wrapping the day off with making love before dropping off to sleep,” she said.
“A mutually satisfying physical and mental interaction before sleep enhances mood, feelings of well-being, releases stress and makes it easier to switch off the busy mind to go to sleep and stay asleep,” Amer Khan, a Sutter Health neurologist and sleep specialist, told Healthline. “If a satisfying sexual orgasm after an exciting foreplay is a part of that interaction, it is also likely to lead to better sleep.”
On the flip side, if you’re already mentally exhausted before you even get into bed, then sex might be the furthest thing from your mind.
“The stress or occurrences of the day may still occupy a significant portion of your thoughts, and it’s difficult to transition that into a sexual context,” Moali said.
And if you live with certain health conditions or disabilities, “your body may physically be in too much pain from a full day’s activities” to have sex before bed, Wilson-Beattie said.
Don’t forget about afternoon delights
With more couples working from home during the pandemic, a weekday afternoon delight is now, at least, a logistical possibility (though if you also have kids at home, it could be trickier to pull off). A midday roll in the hay can help you shake off work stress and, like any physical activity, may even boost your mood and productivity for the rest of the day.
“This could be a perfect compromise for couples who have different preferences as far as the timing of their sexual play,” Moali said. “Another added benefit of this is the introduction of change in couples’ sex routines, which might help them break free from sexual boredom.”
OK, so what’s the best time to do the deed?
Experts agreed that there’s no definitively ideal time to have sex. It really depends what works for you and your partner.
If you two happen to have different time preferences, not to worry. As long as you can talk honestly about what you want, you can figure out a window that’s mutually beneficial, whether that’s meeting in the middle or alternating between your preferred times of day.
If you need a little help getting in the mood at your nonpeak times, try exploring psychological activities — such as mindfulness or reading erotica — or physiological activities, like taking a shower or exercising, Moali said.
And remember that “sex” doesn’t always have to include penetration either. Oral sex, sensual massages and other acts are options, too.
“It does not always have to look like intercourse or even involve a whole lot of friction and genitals,” Wise said. “It can be mutual masturbation. It can be outercourse. It can be anything that feels good and is erotic and playful.”