Sleep Over Sex, Money Mess as Cause of Stress

According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, if you want to wow a woman into bed, offer her sleep before sex.

According to a Time Healthland article, three out of four women are “somewhat, very, or extremely stressed.” In case you’re wondering, they’re stressed over bucks – and not the kind that afford the pleasures conjured by the prior Wall Street Journal mention.

Yes, you heard it here – and surely not first. Zzzzzs before we please – ourselves or someone we love. And as it turns out, money mess (as if we didn’t already realize) is as a major factor in female stress.

According to the Healthland survey referenced, conducted by Aviva and the Mayo Clinic, the data on financial stress and overall health prove interesting:

About 82% of the women said they were uncomfortable with their financial situation, and 58% of women reported weight gain in the previous 10 years; that number jumped to 68% among extremely stressed women.

Of course, the solutions offered – to institute and maintain healthy weight plans, and a good financial plan besides – are simplistic to say the least, and ignore the underlying issues.

Sleep Over Sex

My opening statement?

Sure – in the heat of (early) passion, we don’t feel our fatigue. But beyond that? Many women would choose sleep over sex. (Let’s at least admit it.)

Last weekend I set a clear boundary with someone I love, by saying no to spending time together. I’m in the middle of what seems like an endless list of tasks, most of which are related to paying my bills, and letting up is not an option.

My sleep is already taking a beating and at the moment, I can’t accommodate additional expectations – however lovely they may be. Putting sleep at risk isn’t an option, when I need all my energies focused on projects and pursuing leads, not to mention every available functioning hour. (Hello? Two kids in college?)

If I’m not working, I choose sleep – 5 or 6 hours – over nearly everything else.

The Stress of Money Mess

Post divorce life?


Post divorce life when the dollars never add up, and legal fees to make changes tip the scales to Land of Impossible Dream?

Post divorce life when it’s also post corporate life?

You do whatever you must, as many hours as it takes. And it may go on for years. This isn’t a unique story, with millions of adults unemployed or underemployed, and scrambling to stay afloat.

But do we think that money woes won’t encourage emotional eating (or worse), much less plenty of sleepless nights?

Sleeping, Eating, Breathing (and Other Priorities)

Sleep is a must. How often do we lose it to worry? How often do we give it away so our partners (and children) get more of our attention? How often does it disappear as we fret over jobs, kids, relationship problems – worsened by our own overwrought expectations?

We have only to look at these two articles as examples of how much women take on – knowingly or without realizing. Of course our health is impacted! We eat less attentively, we gain weight, and we know that sleep deprivation may result in putting on pounds, or at the very least makes losing weight more difficult.

What if what the so-called “Fat Personality” is a reflection in part of worry and sleeplessness? Just how much of a woman’s emotional eating is tied to the body’s physical responses to stress?

Why do we insist on a healthy balance of sleep, food, and a breather for those we love, but for ourselves – not so much?

Sayonara Superwoman

I’ve attempted to dismantle the Superwoman myth before; I will continue until we start to listen – to ourselves. This isn’t to say that we aren’t super women – but if we’re smart, we’ll learn to ask for help and to accept it. We’ll say no to a vision of a perfect self, a perfect mate, a perfect parent, a perfect professional – and of course, in a perfectly neat and welcoming home.

Must I really add the perfect body to the mix?

But this isn’t enough. We must also stand up and say no to living in fear of losing our jobs (and thus our health care), losing our spouses (and thus often both health care and financial stability), and spending years scrambling just to survive. We need to listen carefully and reject simple solutions for complex social problems.

We cannot ignore our neighbors, our friends, our communities. We cannot slide into complacency. And just because it does not affect us personally today doesn’t mean it won’t tomorrow.

Vision, Action, and Common Sense

Somewhere in the insanity of our contemporary cultural expectations, we must be able to find a flicker of common sense – reaching out and pooling resources, making tough choices when it comes to priorities, compromising as all adults do, and thinking beyond our own immediate interest.

We’re a nation that needs its women strong, healthy, and actively contributing. How’s that for a vision that’s both personally and socially satisfying?


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  1. says

    “In focus groups, the researchers started asking women, “Would you rather have better sex, or would you rather have a better night’s sleep?” All of them responded they would rather have a better night’s sleep,” Sounds like my first wife, but not like my second wife. Except the phrasing of the question appears unprofessional, which would make the whole “study” nonsense… sort of like asking “Would you like to stop beating your wife?” What does wishing for “better” imply — that you have inadequate sex and inadequate sleep now, so on which do you put more focus. Stupid focus group accepting stupid question. My first wife slept like a log — she simply loved sleeping and didn’t care for sex after marriage. (Yes, Virginia, there is sex after marriage.) We have good sex, and Fran would vouch for that. Guess if I were getting no sleep, I would go for sleep to stay alive (that’s a fact; check on some rare lethal conditions). Folks can live without sex, although I wouldn’t call it much of a life for me, personally. Of course, I look at sex as intimacy. Without intimacy, what are you sleeping for? And sex is still a good sleeping pill, although I don’t like to refer to it that way. I like to say that the happiness and love of sharing intimacy contributes to a good nights sleep.

    p.s. I would eat my focus group goodies and refuse to answer the question. There is no good answer.

    • BigLittleWolf says

      Now, now, Paul. You already know my “position” on sex. And I agree that the framing of any study is essential (we can pose questions to prove most anything it seems… as in your example).

      But there are times when all of us are just pooped. Sometimes the body needs to rest, and we need to listen.

  2. says

    Here’s what is sexy and would have made me want sex while married: when I said “I’m really overwhelmed” if he had said, “No problem. I’ll grab our daughter and go to the grocery store; on our way back we’ll stop at the cleaners. After I put the groceries away and she’s napping, is there anything else I could do?” no matter how tired I was that night, I would have turned to him intimately, because that kind of connection is HOT. Conversely, watching him surf the net while I round around managing our lives, turned off my libido.

    (Ironically, I was the primary one to initiate sex, in the hopes of intimacy on many levels, and he was less interested.)

    There are other kinds of hot connections, of course, but in the middle of frazzled life, getting a hand with that too-long list would be really, incredibly, beautifully sexy.

    In my post-divorce world, I’m aware of all of the struggles you mention with sleep, food, and money woes, because I live them daily. I’m not on the market for dating right now, let alone sex, but I’ve also canceled girlfriend events because I’m just too tired. However, I also live in a post-cancer world, and now I recognize at a cellular, spiritual level how important my health is, and I work harder to protect it. I know that I need 7-8 hours of sleep, regular exercise, and lots of fruits and veggies, and that if I don’t get them, the price is beyond compare. (Regular exercise reduces risk of breast cancer recurrence 50%. That is a LOT more than chemo reduced my risk, and I really don’t want to do chemo again.) I can’t tell anyone else how to behave, but having lived through cancer once, I don’t want to repeat the experiment, and as a single mom, I *really* can’t afford to.

  3. says

    Sleep over sex. Yes. Stress over money. Yes. It’s hard for me to put away my money worries, now that we’re down to a 1.25-income family. I stay up too late most nights, wishing for more time to finish my tasks as a mom, as a partner and as a woman (often in that order) so I’m plagued by fatigue more often than I like. When I finally get some rest, it is at the expense of other unaccomplished tasks, and of course that just means guilt.

    It’s a vicious cycle.

    So yes, the spirit and sometimes even the body may be willing, but it’s the mind that’s constantly being distracted by worries that trumps everything else.

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