Sexual intercourse and sleep in older age: findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing


  • Igor Grabovac
  • Damiano Pizzol
  • Daragh T. McDermott
  • Viren Swami
  • Petre Cristian Ilie
  • Suzanna Forwood
  • Lin Yang


Older adults , sexual activity , sexual intercourse , sleep duration , sleep quality


Objectives: To investigate associations between sexual intercourse and sleep quality and duration, controlling for a range of confounders, in a large, representative sample of older English adults.

Methods: Data were from 2,743 men and 2,990 women aged ? 50 years, participating in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Participants reported whether or not they had engaged in sexual activity in the last year, and those who were sexually active reported frequency of intercourse in the past month. Information on sleep disturbance and duration and socio-demographic and health-related covariates was also collected.

Findings: Being sexually active was not associated with sleep disturbance or sleep duration. Men who had less frequent intercourse reported greater sleep disturbance than those who reported no sexual intercourse (OR=1.29, 95% CI 1.02-1.65), but had lower odds of reporting longer than optimal sleep duration (OR=0.45, 95% CI 0.24-0.86). Men who engaged in sexual intercourse once a week or more (OR=0.43, 95% CI 0.23-0.80) also had lower odds of long sleep relative to those who reported no sexual intercourse. Women who engaged in more frequent (? once a week) intercourse reported less sleep disturbance than those who reported no sexual intercourse in the last month (OR=0.68, 95% CI 0.53-0.86), and women who reported sexual intercourse once in the past month had lower odds of long sleep (OR=0.51, 95% CI 0.26-0.996).

Conclusions: In a population-based sample of older men and women in England, there was inconsistent evidence of an association between sexual activity and sleep disturbance and sleep duration.


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How to Cite

Grabovac, I. ., Pizzol, D. ., McDermott, D. T. ., Swami, V. ., Ilie, P. C. ., Forwood, S. ., & Yang, L. . (2020). Sexual intercourse and sleep in older age: findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Atena Journal of Public Health, 3, 1. Retrieved from