Among the chaos of modern day life, sex can sometimes slip down from the top of our priorities. Instead of fantasising about our partner’s touch, we’re putting our energy into thinking about work, what food we need to buy for the fridge, or whether we’ve properly organised our weekend plans. And when we’re not contemplating all that, we’re more than likely thinking about how tired we are. “The couples who make their sex lives work, even when they are tired and stressed are the ones that prioritise it,” says relationship therapist Kate Moyle, who’s also an expert for sex toy company LELO. “That often means scheduling the time in your diary like you would any other appointment or meeting. It might feel counter-intuitive or un-romantic but all you are scheduling is the timeslot, not what you do with it.” Psychologist and We-Vibe’s relationship expert Dr Becky Spelman agrees. “You and your partner could arrange to set your morning alarm an hour early one day a week,” she advises. “Or maybe plan a regular date night so you make time in your busy schedule for intimacy. When spontaneity doesn’t come easy, a routine can actually be rather sexy. Set aside your ‘good’ underwear for those days, and make sure you can dedicate yourselves to one another.”
Remember it doesn’t actually take that long
There may be a joke in there somewhere, but this is true. “When you are tired, remember the reality is that sex isn't going to eat into your sleep time that much,” says Kate. “Often our perception of sex when we are tired is that it's going to go on for ages and we will be more tired as a result the next day.” According to research, most heterosexual couples have sex that lasts for an average of 19 minutes – and 20 minutes out of your night isn’t really that long. “Orgasming also releases a cocktail of hormones that actually promote good sleep,” Kate adds, meaning it’s a win-win situation for all those involved.
Don’t eat a heavy meal in the evening
If the reason you’re not having sex is because you’re too tired and lethargic in the evenings, do what you can to give yourself a boost of energy at this time of the day. “Eating a heavy meal in the evening after work can be an easy way to kill whatever energy you have left after your busy day—and your libido along with it,” she says. “Try to have simple, light, refreshing meals instead, and your body won’t have to divert so much energy to digestion, leaving you with more to enjoy fooling around.” Also consider going for a run or a walk when you get home from work, as research from the University of Georgia suggests that exercise can increase energy levels by 20% and decrease fatigue by 65%.
Start things early
“For a huge number of people, sex typically occurs when we get into bed in the evenings, but we think of this time as winding down and preparing to get ready for sleep, undressing, brushing our teeth, washing our faces and so on, and it can feel like a preparation process for slumber not sexual intimacy,” Kate explains. Try to switch things up, and bring sex forward in your evening plans. Becky suggests getting in the mood as soon as you leave the office. “Consider steaming things up a bit with some saucy communications on your way home from work,” she says. “If you travel by bus or train and can safely use your phone, let your imagination run wild and send your beloved some purple prose by text, telling them exactly what you would like to do to them when you get back.”
Put your phone down
We’re all guilty of scrolling through our phones late at night when we’re feeling tired and unsociable, but this is not a way to initiate intimacy and can actually lead us to feel more drained. Ask yourself if what you’re looking at is really that important, and try to prioritise your partner over the media you’re consuming. “Give yourself a time at which you are going to switch off your TV or turn away from your phones before getting into bed,” Kate advises. “Too often the last things we touch when we get into bed at night are our phones, rather than our partners. This helps to get some headspace and stop thinking about the last task in hand. Sit with your partner and just talk about your day for that time, make eye-contact, hug and kiss and allow the time just to be for that.”