Sex Advice

6 Tips for Having Great, Fulfilling Sex When You’re Just So Tired

Natalie Arroyo Camacho

Photo by Getty Images/John Dowland
A healthy sex life is linked to a number of great benefits: a longer lifespan, improved heart health, and decreased stress, to name a few. That said, at one point or another, it's likely you've simply been too tired to have it. But, having sex when you’re tired still stands to boost your well-being because it makes you feel more connected to your sexual partner and opens you up to all the benefits of experiencing orgasm. (Of course, this doesn’t apply to asexual people, whose relationships are still valid and intimate despite a lack of sexual activity.) And, with the help of some tips, it's possible to still have great and satisfying sex, even if you're pretty zonked.

And for the health of your relationship, it may be worth your effort, too. According to experts, using sleepiness as a reason to avoid sex may lead you to not regularly reap the intimacy-boosting benefits of sex. “When you're maintaining that [sexual] connection, even if you're going through hard times together, you're likely to be a little kinder and nicer, and maybe even a little more patient with your partner in the rest of your relationship,” says sexologist and co-founder of GoLove CBD lubricant Sadie Allison, PhD.

That said, if you or your partner is chronically tired and not in the mood, it's important to first connect about potential underlying issues causing the sex-life-busting exhaustion. “I always encourage couples to first talk about the fatigue,” says sex therapist Shannon Chavez, PsyD. “If there's not even [sexual] desire, or one partner hasn’t been in the mood, having an open dialogue around that is the first step [to having sex when tired], because you want to figure out what's getting in the way of sex.” Following this discussion, it's important to follow up with action. Whether that's a change in routine, one partner helping the other to minimize sources of stress that may be stoking libido-busting fatigue, or seeking therapy, it's important to move forward together.

But sometimes, there's no serious or problematic underlying issue, and you're just plain old sleepy. Read on for six expert-backed suggestions for having great consensual sex when you’re tired (and why doing so may be worth it).

6 expert-backed tips for having sex when you’re tired (and making it great)

1. Remember that sex goes beyond penetrative intercourse

Dr. Allison says that understanding intercourse as broader than just a penetrative act can ultimately make it easier to to make sure everyone is satisfied, and—considering the factor of tiredness—efficiently so.

For instance, non-penetrative sex acts can be effective for achieving orgasm (the fastest way for vulva-owners to orgasm, after all, is via the clitoris), and having an orgasm releases happiness-boosting chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin in our brains. So, it's totally possible to reap the well-being benefits of sex without having penetrative intercourse.

2. Try “lazy” positions

In this sense, "lazy" is not meant to convey a negative feeling. It's more so a way to depict the amount of energy that goes into sex when you're tired. “Lazy sex is good sex, because all sex leads to feeling more desire for connection,” Dr. Chavez says.

“Lazy sex is good sex, because all sex leads to feeling more desire for connection.” —sex therapist Shannon Chavez, PsyD

Basically, it's an expert-sanctioned excuse to take it easy on the advanced sex positions when you're super sleepy.  “You want to choose a position that is the least amount of work necessary,” says Dr. Allison. For example, spooning can be a good go-to position for having sex when you’re tired because it doesn’t require much energy or agility—plus, it brings you physically close to your partner.

3. Try to have sex during the afternoon

If you and your partner work remotely, afternoon sex can be a real winner. At this time, we have naturally higher levels of alertness thanks to the hormone cortisol and lower levels of sleep hormone melatonin than at night. So, fitting daytime sex into your schedule may circumvent the feeling of “having to” have sex at the end of a long and draining day.

4. Give yourselves grace

Certain individuals may experience super-busy seasons at work, for example, and this may sometimes impact their bandwidth for sex. For example, if your partner has a presentation coming up they’ve been preparing for months, or you just launched your business, your sex life may lag a bit in light of those energy-absorbing realities. In cases like these, give yourselves a break and stay in communication about how you plan to prioritize your relationship—sexually or otherwise. After all, it's important to not make sex feel like a chore or another item on an already super-long to-do list.

“During busy seasons, be realistic with the schedule and know that this particular month might be difficult or different. Give yourself some grace,” says Dr. Allison.

5. Prioritize intimacy

Whether it’s a busy season or not, make sex and intimacy a priority; something you want and need to do as opposed to something you have to do. Part of this means not leaving it as the last thing you do in a day, after all your chores and to-dos are finished. Otherwise, sex unfortunately often slips through the cracks because, well, you're just too tired after doing everything else.

The key here? Both partners should agree that no matter what, even if each is exhausted, they’ll make time for intimate connection. Even if it's a couple of minutes of eye gazing and not an orgasm-inducing activity, says Dr. Chavez.

6. Try having slower sex

“Slow sex can be some of the best sex,” says Dr. Chavez. And because you’re moving slower, you’re exerting less energy, which can ease anxiety about having sex when you’re just so damn tired.

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