Sex: Eat, Exercise, Relax, & Sleep for Better Sex (cont.)

All of these consequences could undoubtedly put a damper on a person's sex life.

Rosenberg recommends trying to increase your total sleep time, even if it's just adding a half-hour or more per week. "Try it, and see how it affects your sex life," he says.


The brain may be the most important sex organ of all. It is perhaps in the mind where beliefs take hold and flourish about the effects of certain foods on sexual prowess, even as scientists deny any direct connection between diet and erotic fitness.

It is in the mind that people feel self-confident when they like the effects of exercise on their bodies. It is also where they feel happy and energized once they've gotten enough sleep.

Yet the inner workings of the brain can also keep a person from focusing on the delights of bedroom actions.

"In order to have a really healthy and pleasurable sex life, you have to be able to dismiss work; you have to be able to unwind and experience pleasure," says Zager. She says this means being able to temporarily forget about what your boss said, what was in the memo, what bills need to be paid, and what the children need.

Sex requires relaxation and time, adds Zager, noting that some couples may be too stressed and busy to enjoy or even have intercourse. She suggests setting priorities.

"Just how important is sex to you and your partner?" asks Zager. If it is vital to your relationship, she advises finding a way to work it into your schedule and working on making yourself less stressed or tired.

Some recommendations include eliminating some activities from your busy life, delegating jobs to someone else (by giving it to a partner, or hiring someone to do it), and doing an across-the-board cut in time spent on each activity.

To unwind, Zager suggests taking 5 to 30 minutes either to walk, meditate, take a hot bath, do yoga, or sit by yourself. This time can help charge personal batteries and can help make transitions between your work, family, and sex life.

To Your Bedroom Health

Living healthy may, indeed, have its benefits. If you eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, sleep enough, and take time to relax, there's a good chance your life between the sheets will improve.

Of course, there is no guarantee. But, as Zager says, it all forms a really good foundation.

"If you've got a good foundation of stress management, and setting your priorities, and taking good care of yourself, then on top of that, you can build relationships with other people and an enjoyable sex life," she says.

Originally published Jan. 12, 2004.
Medically updated Feb. 2, 2005.

SOURCES: Karen Zager, PhD, psychologist New York. Saralyn Mark, MD, senior medical adviser, Office on Women's Health. John Allred, PhD, professor emeritus of nutrition, Ohio State University. Mark Kantor, PhD, associate professor of nutrition and food science, University of Maryland. American Council on Exercise (ACE). Cedric Bryant, PhD, chief exercise physiologist, ACE. National Sleep Foundation. Russell Rosenberg, PhD, director, Northside Hospital Sleep Medicine Institute, Atlanta.

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