The next time you’re having sex with someone who has had a cold, you might be surprised to find out that you might not need to sleep on your side.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Health and Society have shown that if you sleep on the right side, the brain can relax and your heart is more likely to pump blood to the genitals.
“We found that a night on the left side is a better option than a night in the middle,” Dr Emma Walshe, one of the researchers, told the BBC.
“That’s because the brain doesn’t like to have to wake up and go through the process of being awake all night long, so it doesn’t really need to.”
Dr Walshel said the study was “just the tip of the iceberg”.
“I’m really pleased that we have found a new way to improve sleep and sleep quality,” she said.
“Our findings may be a step forward in understanding why some people are more prone to obesity and heart disease than others.”
In the study, participants had to complete three different tasks over two nights.
On the first night, they had to listen to a series of songs and read a story about people who had been hit by a car.
The next night they had another task in which they had no music to listen, but were asked to read an online story about a man who had a stroke and had to relearn how to use a computer.
On another night, the participants had a task where they had just finished a video game and were asked, “What is your favourite video game?”, to which they were asked a series with words such as “classic”, “super”, and “totally”.
They then had to type a word into a computer screen and record it for their computer.
Then, they were told that they would be asked to write a story that was about a woman who had had a heart attack, and was now in a coma.
On their third night, people were asked about their favourite sex acts and their sex lives.
“There was a strong relationship between sleep and sexual activity,” Dr Walsher said.
“Sleep improved sexual behaviour, while sexual activity was better in the morning.”
The findings suggest that there could be a link between sex and the quality of sleep, the researchers said.
Dr Wilshe said that if someone was trying to improve their sex life and sleep was not an issue, she would be interested in testing her theory on people who didn’t have heart attacks.
“A lot of people who are not in a cardiac crisis don’t have sex,” she added.
“I would like to see if it would be possible to find people who have had heart attacks and do this study with them.”
If you or anyone you know needs help, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123.