The difference between lackluster, go-through-the-motions sex and plentiful, exciting sex? In a recent study on sexuality, when subjects were asked why they had sex at a certain time, the convenience rhythm — they were already in bed, their partner was available, and sex didn't interfere with their work schedule — accounted for 72 percent of sexual encounters!
Sexual behavior, like so many of the human body's physiological functions, is deeply connected to our biological rhythms, which unfold in roughly 24-hour cycles. According to our bodies' own internal biological clocks, there is a best time for just about everything we do — including sex.
The human body is equipped with powerful biological rhythms that influence nearly everything we do. They affect nearly all of our activity and regulate most of our physiological processes. These biorhythms are kept in sync by a master biological clock that resides in the brain. That master bio-clock coordinates with other clocks throughout the body to govern the timing of everything from sleep and alertness to metabolism and appetite, immune function and healing, hormone fluctuation and sexual behavior.
Bio time doesn't unfold exactly the same way for everyone. Individual biological clocks run slightly shorter or longer, with corresponding preferences for morning or evening. These preferences among people for morning or evening activity, coupled with different individual drives for sleep, create what are known as chronotypes.
Maybe you're an up-with-the-sun type, and your partner likes to hit the snooze button half a dozen times. Those behaviors are an expression of your individual chronotypes. In my clinical practice and research, I consider there to be four different chronotypes, each with distinct bio rhythms. You can learn more about your chronotype here.
In today's world, social time and bio time (that is, late-night Netflix binges or pulling all-nighters rather than hitting the sack at a consistent bedtime) are in constant conflict, which contributes to a litany of problems for health, productivity, and relationships. That conflict is also a reason for infrequent and less-than-mind-blowing sex.
The habit of having sex at bedtime is one born of convenience and of deference to social time. For most people, this means sex at 11 p.m. or even later — just as nearly everyone is at their most tired and fatigued, and as their biorhythms are urging them toward their all-important sleep. These late-night hours are also when sex-related hormones are just hitting their lowest point of the 24-hour day. From a bio-time perspective, this is the worst time for sex, no matter what your chronotype.
So, when is the best time for sex? There is no one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on your individual chronotype and your partner's chronotype. (Sex, of course, doesn't require a partner. Your solo sex life follows biorhythms just as partnered sexual activity does.)
For all chronotypes, morning is an excellent time for sexual activity. Morning is when those sex hormones — in particular testosterone — reach their peak for the day, in both men and women. In the 24-hour cycle of the body's "desire rhythm," morning is prime time.
Morning certainly isn't the only good time for sex. Sexual activity in the morning won't be possible, or desirable, for everyone. Most chronotypes, in addition to having ideal morning times, also have times in the early evening that are well-suited for sex. There's no true "wrong" time for sex. But sexual motivation and desire ebb and flow with bio time. Paying attention to the power of when can deliver some pretty hot and heavy benefits to your sex life.