Postcoital Narcolepsy, Why Do Men Fall Asleep After Sex?

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Egbert Haynes
Postcoital Narcolepsy, Why Do Men Fall Asleep After Sex?

Many women after the sexual act find that their male partners simply fall asleep when they at that moment want to feel heard or embraced. Although it is a fairly frequent complaint among females since it seems that their partners "only want them for sex" in fact falling asleep in the case of men is an act produced by a series of hormonal changes and brain mechanisms after the orgasm they have. different effect depending on whether you are male or female.

Postcoital narcolepsy, why does it happen?

Although the drowsiness suffered by many people, especially males, after orgasm is called “postcoital narcolepsy”, in reality it has little to do with the hypersomnia or narcolepsy syndrome, which would be defined as a sudden loss of muscle tone ( cataplexy), sleep paralysis and hypnagogic effects that affects 20/30 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and is defined as “a serious sleep disorder”. These episodes can occur at any time of the day and are highly disabling for people who suffer from them as they can fall asleep at work, while eating or while driving..

In contrast, postcoital narcolepsy is nothing more than a consequence produced after sexual intercourse and is very common in men. During the sexual act men and women seek the same, pleasure. But what happens after orgasm? Reactions after sex can be as varied as people in the world. There are those who have a great desire to hug the other person, others need to talk, others even feel sadness (this is what would be called postcoital dysphoria). In the case of men, almost all of them get sleepy and this causes many women to complain that they are not attractive enough to their partners to stay awake and hug them for a while after sex.

And it is that immediately after orgasm the blackout occurs. What the French, who are very subtle, call the "petite mort". Men are exhausted and many will need a little nap. On the other hand, women, although they also remain relaxed, feel the need at that moment to reinforce their emotional bond and demand caresses and words of love.

Some research has been done to understand more deeply why it happens and what mechanisms are involved in postcoital narcolepsy.

Physiological mechanisms of postcoital narcolepsy

According to the research of Daniel Kruger and Susan Hughes, the main culprit for this drowsiness is oxytocin. This hormone works differently in men and women; in men producing sleep and in women producing desire for union with the other person that will translate into a desire to hug and talk with their partners. Apparently according to these researchers there is a chemical complex in the process in which, in addition to oxytocin, other hormones such as prolactin and vasopressin are involved.

For his part, researcher Serge Storelu, from the French Institute of Health and Medical Research, carried out a group of investigations in which they scanned the brains of men at the time of sexual intercourse and after it and observed that the cerebral cortex - the one in charge of conscious thought- it was turned off after the climax, while the cortex of the anterior cingulate, is the one that regulates the heart rate, and the amygdala, which processes and stores emotional reactions, was in charge of sending the message to the whole body to suppress any sexual desire, producing a massive secretion of oxytocin and serotonin, the two hormones that induce sleep.

Ejaculation has also been found to be associated with a decrease in activation activity through the cerebral cortex, which is the area responsible for keeping a person in a conscious state.

In the last decade of the 20th century and early 2000, some research was also carried out at the University of Groningen (Holland) in which the relationship between brain and orgasm was studied using brain scanning techniques to find out what was happening in the center of the pleasure of men and women before, during and after orgasm. One of the things that was found is that the areas involved in men and women are the same when faced with orgasm and that both respond very similarly to it. In both, the area behind the left eye and known as the orbitofrontal cortex, simply turns off. This is the part of the brain in charge of the processes involved with reason and in control. The difference between the sexes is in how the body reacts to the hormonal processes that occur after climax.

In other words, the behavior after orgasm is due to how hormones affect us and the fact that certain parts of the brain are paralyzed and others are overexcited. Whether our partner falls asleep or has an uncontrollable desire to talk, good communication and a little patience will minimize the effects of this narcolepsy, which in many cases is inevitable..

Bibliography

Marschall, J. (2007) On the causes of narcolepsy, Mind and brain, No. 24, pgs. 28-33


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