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    Eat, Exercise, Relax, and Sleep Your Way to Better Sex

    Better sex doesn't just involve technique. Keeping a fit mind and body can increase your enjoyment of bedroom antics.

    Sweet Dreams continued...

    In his practice, Russell Rosenberg, PhD, director of the Northside Hospital Sleep Medicine Institute in Atlanta, says chronic sleep-loss patients report not only being too physically tired for sex, but also having decreased libido.

    Unfortunately, lower sex drive, tiredness, and grouchiness are the least of worries with sleep deprivation. Research shows people who don't catch enough winks tend to:

    • Get into more accidents. Inadequate sleep affects perception and motor skills.
    • Find it harder to lose weight. Not enough shut-eye can affect the body's ability to metabolize carbohydrates.
    • Have an increased chance of a hormonal or metabolic disorder, which can indirectly put you at risk for medical problems such as type II diabetes and heart disease.

    All of these consequences could undoubtedly put a damper on a person's sex life.

    Rosenberg recommends trying to increase your total sleep time, even if it's just adding a half-hour or more per week. "Try it, and see how it affects your sex life," he says.

    Relax

    The brain may be the most important sex organ of all. It is perhaps in the mind where beliefs take hold and flourish about the effects of certain foods on sexual prowess, even as scientists deny any direct connection between diet and erotic fitness.

    It is in the mind that people feel self-confident when they like the effects of exercise on their bodies. It is also where they feel happy and energized once they've gotten enough sleep.

    Yet the inner workings of the brain can also keep a person from focusing on the delights of bedroom actions.

    "In order to have a really healthy and pleasurable sex life, you have to be able to dismiss work; you have to be able to unwind and experience pleasure," says Zager. She says this means being able to temporarily forget about what your boss said, what was in the memo, what bills need to be paid, and what the children need.

    Sex requires relaxation and time, adds Zager, noting that some couples may be too stressed and busy to enjoy or even have intercourse. She suggests setting priorities.

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