Alcohol, Sex, and Sleep (note: order is important)

Today I encountered two instances of research pertaining to sex and sleep. The first instance appeared in my Gmail inbox. Ketema Paul, a researcher at the Morehouse School of Medicine who studies sex (i.e. gender) disparities in sleep, is scheduled to give speak at one of our weekly seminars.

How does sex (i.e. gender) influence sleep? As illustrated in Ketema Paul’s research, estrogen is wake-promoting, meaning that females (mice, in this case) have more bouts of wakefulness across the day, and less NREM sleep (not R.E.M [see “REM Is NOT Equal to R.E.M,”]). These gender disparities in sleep architecture disappear upon the removal of endogenous estrogen release through a surgical procedure known as an ovarectomy.

The second instance of research pertaining to sex (yes, the “gutter-minded” sex) and sleep was brought to my attention by a lab mate. According to a recent article in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, alcohol actually IMPROVES sexual performance. The only stipulations required for such a magic trick is that the alcohol consumer must be a non-smoker and be at a low risk for alcoholism and heart disease. If you meet these criteria, however, I suggest buying the seasonal Sam Adams 12 pack and drinking the night away. In the study, binge  drinkers AND people who drank 4 drinks a day about 5 days a week were less likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction. The study was conducted in Australia.

Lessons of the day: Estrogen is wake-promoting and alcohol is erection-promoting.


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