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Doin' It Well

Sleep improves health and sex improves sleep—no doubt

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02.09.11

Getting out of bed can be the worst part of the day. Whether pulling away from a lover's wake-up call or sleep's cozy cocoon, often it's all downhill after leaving the sheets.

New research says it's more than an annoyance, though. It can be downright dangerous to your health.

OK, so that's a bit of a stretch. But several scientific studies suggest that staying in bed—both sleeping and sexing—has multiple health benefits. Instead of hitting the gym or cutting carbs, studies suggest, fitness-conscious folk can add more sex and sleep to their lives, knowing their bodies (and their minds) will thank them for it now and in the future. There's even a name for this approach, according to those in the know.

"The sex diet!" says sexpert Jane Bogart. "The average 175-pound person burns 150 to 200 calories during 30 to 40 minutes of sex."

Bogart, author of Sexploration: The Ultimate Guide to Feeling Truly Great in Bed, is joking. Sort of.

It takes 3,500 calories to burn one pound of fat. Assuming one high-intensity half-hour romp per day, that adds up to weight loss of roughly half a pound per week. So maybe it's not as effective as spinning class.

"But it's a lot more fun than the treadmill," says Bogart, who's also director of student wellness at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. And singles need not despair: "Sex with another person can be great, but some of these benefits you can also get by having sex with yourself."

Sex and why it's good for people is one of Bogart's favorite topics. "It reduces physical stress, it reduces tension, it promotes feeling good about yourself," she says. In addition to writing and teaching about it, she also appeared on MTV's First National Sex Quiz and True Life: I Need a Sex R.N.

"Benefits fall into three categories," she says. "Actual emotional health benefits to sex, physical health benefits and physiological health benefits."

The evidence is, er, mounting, and it's more than just anecdotal. Several scientific studies suggest that the health benefits of sex may be more than just the old high-pro glow. These include:

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