ICYMI: On this season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Denise Richards has revealed that she has sex with her husband every morning before making their coffee, getting her kids ready for school and working out. Perhaps it’s as much of a wellness routine for them as a source of pleasure. That is, article after article after article after article touts morning sex as, in no particular order, a suitable workout, a way to make you look younger, a boost to your immune system, a replacement for that morning cup of joe and the means to a happier, calmer, chiller you.
But can any of this be true? After all, it seems way, way, way too good to be true. I mean, what else brings all of those benefits with it that also isn’t a strenuous slog that feels miserable in the moment (like, say, a daily, 5 a.m. trip to the gym for a grueling two-hour workout)?
To find out, I consulted with a wide range of people — from experts to couples who just prefer their sex in the sunlight as opposed to the darkness. Long-story short: The evidence of its benefits are mostly anecdotal, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t the most enjoyable placebo effect around.
What the, Um, Hard Science Says About Morning Sex
“In terms of scientific studies, we know a fair amount about when sex happens, but there’s no literature that supports morning sex having any specific health benefits,” explains Nicole Prause, a neuroscientist and expert in human sexual response. “Some people will say, ‘Testosterone is high in the morning.’ But the thing that’s important to know is testosterone doesn’t drive sex. Testosterone reflects sex. If you have sex, testosterone goes up. But someone’s testosterone doesn’t affect when sex happens. It doesn’t matter whether your testosterone levels are higher in the morning or at night. This isn’t going to effect when sex happens.
“People also study how cortisol levels affect when one has sex, but again, there’s no correlation. Cortisol fluctuates during the daytime, but we have no reason to believe cortisol affects orgasm or arousal because while higher cortisol levels can cause arousal, orgasm decreases cortisol levels. And so, there isn’t a relationship between your levels of cortisol and when you have sex.”
That Said, Morning Wood Certainly Makes Morning Sex More Conducive for Men
“Physiologically speaking, morning sex may be better designed for men,” says Amy Baldwin, a sex educator, co-owner of a “pleasure boutique” and co-host of the Shameless Sex podcast. “Many men often wake up with an erection or at least some sort of blood flow in the morning. And while there is such a thing as a ‘clit boner’ (it is erectile tissue, after all), vulvas often take four times as long to get blood flow than the penis. Many women, in fact, say that it takes longer for them to get aroused in the morning than it does throughout the rest of the day.
“A person’s appreciation for morning sex may also have to do with their sleep cycle and routine. Morning people may find morning sex more enjoyable, while a self-identified ‘night owl’ might find it challenging. I know a number of moms who love morning sex because parenting has turned them into morning people, and they have yet to feel overwhelmed by the busy day ahead. These same moms have an aversion to evening sex as they’re often too exhausted at the end of the day.”
One Such Morning-Sex Mom
“Morning is soooo much better,” says Caitlyn. “There’s already an intimacy of waking up together, the kid is still asleep and you’re not exhausted from your day and you don’t feel all full from dinner.”
Female Rats Have Been Known to Have Fondness For an A.M. Roll in the Hay
“If we look at animal models, like rodent models that track these things, the rats are typically having sex late at night — midnight, 1 a.m. and in the early morning hours,” says Prause. “But the females don’t follow this pattern as strongly as the male rats. Female rats don’t care what time it is, in terms of being receptive to sex. So although most rats are having sex late at night, it seems the females participate because of social pressure more so than their own preference.”
The Human Women With a Rat-Like Fondness for Morning Sex
Says Baldwin, “Personally speaking, my favorite morning sex is when my partner and I wake up, eat breakfast together, and then jump back in bed for some sensual playtime. We haven’t turned on our phones or looked at our emails, so our minds are still calm and clear but our bodies are awake. That shared intimate connection and orgasms in the morning often sets the tone for a glorious day.”
Liz and Isa agree. “I love morning sex because I can’t sleep after I get off,” says Liz. Isa adds, “I love morning sex because if it’s good, I’ll keep thinking about it all day long, meaning we have sex at night too.”
Two Frequently Cited Obstacles to More Frequent Morning Sex
The first: the people who have to get up at ungodly hours for work. “I prefer sleepy morning sex, but sadly, that 8-to-4 teacher life doesn’t really allow for it,” says Talia. “I wake up way earlier than my husband, and as much as he likes sex, he doesn’t love waking up for it.”
The second: male partners, who despite all that morning wood, prefer their sex after hours. “I like morning sex cause it wakes me up, but my dude doesn’t like morning sex as he can’t last as long.” Adds Kat, “I’m here for a morning sex moment, but lots of dudes I’ve been with say they like to go to sleep right after.”
The Way to Sync Up Mistimed Libidos
“Switch it up so everyone can get their needs met,” Baldwin says. “If one person prefers morning and another prefers night, make sure to step outside of your preference to meet your partner’s needs from time to time. Also, perhaps consider afternoon sex. Lunch-break sex. Middle-of-the-night, ‘I can’t sleep so lets play’ sex. Get creative and add variety.
“If it feels challenging to find time for sex, consider scheduling intimacy mornings, afternoons or nights where there are no goals (meaning it doesn’t have to always involve penetration) but you commit to sharing intimacy together.”
The Mid-Day(ish) Sex People
“My ideal time is when I get home after work and the gym, so like 5 or 6 p.m.,” explains Serah. “Then I shower after and can eat and chill before bed. My husband and I don’t work the same schedules, so we’ve never been a before-bed sex couple. I like morning sex on weekends, but on a weekday, I’m struggling to get out of bed at 5:45 a.m. and it’s not going to happen.”
Says Heidi, “I have kids. That means sneaking off while they’re watching Netflix on a weekend isn’t so much a preference but a necessity. They Netflix, we chill.”
One Last Pseudo-Science Morning Sex Claim We Really, Really Want to Believe — That It’s a Perfect Hangover Remedy
“I have zero scientific evidence but I feel like that shot of serotonin does something for me after a late night,” says Emily. Adds Alexa, “If I down a Gatorade after, even better — an Instant hangover cure.”
Shelby, though, perfectly encapsulates how it captures the best of both worlds: “I like hungover, still-in-bed, still-laying-down-on-our-sides sex in the morning. We go from sleeping to cuddling to sex to sleep again all in the same position!”