The best time to have sex for many couples is whenever they feel like it. However, if you and your partner find yourselves always having sex at the same time of the day, it may be a cue to change up your routine. Research suggests that human bodies are more primed for sex at certain day hours. However, this all depends on your particular body's daily rhythms.
What Sex Does to Your Brain?
Before getting into what time is best for sex, let's look at what sex — or, more specifically, orgasm — does to the brain.
Orgasms release several neurotransmitters and hormones into the body. In addition, your circadian rhythm (your body's internal clock) releases different hormones at different times of the day, meaning that sex can feel different depending on the time.
Every human produces testosterone, regardless of their genitals. However, it does appear to affect people differently.
In general, people with penises tend to see increased sexual desire when testosterone levels are high. When it comes to people with vaginas, research is inconclusive on whether increased testosterone levels affect their sexual desire.
Estrogen tends to increase sexual desire in people with vaginas. Higher levels of estrogen may also increase genital lubrication. Estrogen levels can vary from person to person and will usually fluctuate throughout a person's lifetime.
Often called the "love hormone," oxytocin helps with pair-bonding and affection. It's released during orgasm and helps trigger the associated spasms. Oxytocin has a sedative effect.
Dopamine is essentially the brain's reward system. It is often called the "feel good" hormone because it's released during positive events like acing a test, online shopping, and, yes, orgasm.
Early Morning Risers
Science backs morning Sex
If you've ever felt horny in the morning, it isn't just because you had a sexy dream the night before. The body produces the most testosterone in the morning, which causes "morning wood." It also happens to be when estrogen levels are at their highest. Combined, these facts mean that both you and your partner are more likely to be horny in the morning.
Having sex first thing in the morning can be a great start to your day. The dopamine rush that comes with orgasm can propel you into a good mood. Studies show that sex before an important event can reduce nerves.
The vibe of morning sex can be slow, sensual, and intimate. There isn't time to get up, put on fancy clothes, or have an expensive dinner, so the focus is on familiarity and touch.
The Downsides of Morning Sex
At the same time, there are downsides to morning sex. You may feel groggy, with your sensory levels not quite as sensitive as they are later in the day. This means that you may feel less stimulation during arousal. Also, not everyone likes to exercise right after waking up.
The oxytocin released during orgasm can also act as a sedative. This may be great for a lazy Saturday, but not the best way to start the day if you have to do detail-oriented tasks early in the morning.
If you prefer to have sex after a shower and brush your teeth, morning sex may not be for you. Taking the time to get ready in the morning can kill the mood right after waking up. Then again, it may not — do what works for you and your partner.
The success of morning sex may ultimately depend on your and your partner's thoughts on mornings. If you're both morning people, give it a try.
If you find that you and your partner prefer to have sex in the mornings, you may want to prepare for an encounter the night before. Make sure your room is stocked with sex essentials (lubricant, condoms, towels, toys, etc.) available at an arm's reach. This is where something like a nightstand or an under-the-bed storage container could come in handy. Also, mints to mask your morning breath are not a bad idea.
The Happy Medium
If you feel too groggy in the morning for sex, but you like to get it on before the weight of the world gets you down, an afternoon quickie may be just the thing. The afternoon is when your body feels the most awake and limber, making it perfect for more strenuous positions.
Downsides to Afternoon Sex
The big downside to afternoon sex is that this may only be an option on the weekend, depending on you and your partner's schedule.
The easiest way to set aside time for afternoon sex could be a romantic getaway or even a staycation. Have a "to-go" bag filled with sexy must-haves like toys, lubricants, and condoms.
Turn the Lights Down Low
When people think about sex, they usually think about evening sex. It's what is most often portrayed in movies. A couple has a romantic date or meets at a club and go back to one of their places. It's usually done late at night with the lights off.
Similar to morning sex, there are scientific reasons to prefer evening sex. The oxytocin released during orgasm is a sedative, helping you fall asleep faster and more deeply.
Downsides to Evening Sex
The body begins releasing melatonin (the sleep hormone) around nine or ten at night for most people. If you've had a long day and feel sleepy, it may not be the best time to have sex. On the other hand, it could be an excellent way for you to take your mind off your worries and increase the quality of your sleep.
Have some slow music and a bottle of bubbly ready. It's best to wait until your dinner is settled before jumping in.
Gender Differences in Time Preferences
People with penises may be more inclined to enjoy morning sex due to morning wood, but people with vaginas may also be aroused during this time.
A study found that both men and women whose partners fall asleep before they do after sex tend to wish for more emotion and bonding from their partners. Keep this in mind when having sex at any time of the day.
What's the best time of day for sex? That ultimately depends on your and your partner's circadian rhythms and daily schedules.
In general, studies suggest that the morning is a great time to get intimate. However, your schedule or your circadian rhythm may say otherwise. The best time to have sex is when you and your partner feel (a) alert, (b) horny, and (c) unoccupied. Give morning sex a try, but don't worry if you prefer the afternoons or evenings.
Everything to Know About Your Circadian Rhythm. (July 2020). Healthline.
Sex and Context: Hormones and Primate Sexual Motivation. (September 2001). Hormones and Behavior.
Why Is Oxytocin Known as the 'Love Hormone'? And 11 Other FAQs. (August 2018). Healthline.
How Does Dopamine Affect the Body? (November 2019). Healthline.
Blood pressure reactivity to stress is better for people who recently had penile–vaginal intercourse than for people who had other or no sexual activity. (February 2006). Biological Psychology.
The Health Benefits of Sex. (October 2018). Healthline.
TENDENCIES TO FALL ASLEEP FIRST AFTER SEX ARE ASSOCIATED WITH GREATER PARTNER DESIRES FOR BONDING AND AFFECTION. (December 2011). Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences.