I just finished my second week at a new job (though it won’t feel official until my first paycheck next Friday, when I can finally stop living off my savings). My job is 25 freeway miles away from my house, so I have to get up pretty early in order to be there by eight. This has had several ripple effects in my sleep pattern and my sex drive, and also gotten me thinking a lot more about the BF’s sleep pattern and his sex drive, and I’m starting to realize just how huge a deal these sorts of things can become.
My Circadian Rhythm
I have what most doctors would probably consider a “normal” circadian rhythm. If left to my own devices (that is, when I’m not required to get up at a particular time the next day) I will probably get tired and go to bed by 11:30. Sometimes it’s a little earlier, sometimes a little later. I will wake up on my own generally by 9, though if I’m woken up at 8 (which happened when I wasn’t working because that’s when the BF left for work) then I will usually just get up. If there’s something fun going on (a party, a night out at a club/bar, a night of hot sex with the BF), I can stay up quite late, but I can’t sleep in much past 10–sometimes 11 if I wear a sleep mask once it’s light outside.
Now that I’m working, I have to get up by 6 in order to leave by 7:15 and get to work at 8 (once the semester starts and students are parking on campus, I will probably have to get up between 5:30 and 5:45). Accordingly, my clock has readjusted within the first two weeks of this job. I start to think longingly of bed around 9:30 and usually go lay down around 10, although I usually read a book for about half an hour to an hour after that.
What This Has to Do With My Sex Drive
When I was unemployed this summer, I would have told you that the minimum number of times I wanted to have sex was 4 times per week, ideally on four different days. In an ideal world I’d have sex twice on each of those four days for a total of 8 times. I also prefer morning sex because no matter what time I go to bed, it’s because I’m exhausted, and tougher to get “in the mood” (though not impossible).
Now I’m going to bed just as exhausted but much earlier, and waking up just as exhausted because it’s so early (though I usually shake it off within half an hour–and that’s without coffee, so be impressed). So during the week it is much harder to imagine having sex. Again, not impossible, but I’d really have to decide to have sex and then get myself in the mood as opposed to already being in the mood and deciding to have sex.
However, I maintain that my minimum number of times per week is 4, which means that I want to try and get those 4 times in between Friday night and Sunday night. And my ideal 8 has become el dorado because, while it might happen sometimes, it’s unlikely that I’d have sex 8 times over 2.5 days every single weekend.
The BF’s Circadian Rhythm
I have long been aware that the BF has anything but a “normal” circadian rhythm. I have known since our first date that he was an “insomniac,” though it didn’t matter so much when we were both in school because he could grab sleep during odd hours and still be functional at what are generally considered “normal” times. However, about a year ago when he started working it seemed to me that it was taking him longer than normal to adjust to getting up early. He started with the goal of being to work by 8 and it wasn’t workable at all for him, and even a year later he struggles to get in before 9. Like, really struggles. He didn’t get in until almost 10 today.
I was researching this online and discovered that he has something called delayed sleep phase syndrome, which is a type of circadian rhythm sleep disorder. Basically what this means is that he’s not an “insomniac” because his body craves a “normal” amount of sleep; however, his internal body clock is not set to the times that the majority of people sleep. If left to his own devices, he’d stay up until 4 or 6 a.m. and sleep until noon or 2 p.m. Unfortunately it is little known and often misdiagnosed; additionally, it is not only “incurable” but not even able to be treated effectively. Despite getting up at 6:30 or so on the weekdays, he doesn’t get tired until at least 2 a.m. each weeknight–and he still has to take sleeping pills every night to get to bed at that time.
The BF’s Sex Drive
When we first started dating it seemed apparent to me that the BF and I had very similar and compatible sex drives (by which I mean desired frequency), which is half the battle (the other half being chemistry and compatibility when you’re actually having sex). However, while I still believe that’s the case, now that we both have “regular” jobs the differences in our sleep patterns have really begun to interfere with that.
During the week, I go lay down around 10 or 10:30 while he doesn’t come upstairs until after midnight and sometimes later. Because he’s so sleep deprived during the week (after getting significantly less than 6 hours per night for 5 days), he reverts to his “preferred” sleep schedule on the weekend. Right now, even if I go to bed at 1 a.m. that means he doesn’t go to bed until 5 hours later, and when I wake up around 10 (and often earlier), he’s not even going to be conscious until 1 or 2. So we’re never actually both awake in the bed at the same time.
This leaves only daytime sex, which, while fabulous, isn’t always feasible because the weekend is also really our only time to run errands or hang out with friends. And it certainly hasn’t been adding up to my ideal, and quite frankly not even my minimum. I am starting to feel the lack a little.
The Big Questions
The question, of course, is what can be done about this? There’s not much I can do to avoid being tired much sooner than he is at night, whether we’re talking the weekday or the weekend. I’m trying to think of some creative ways to work some more sex into our week in a way that won’t seem forced or a chore for either of us, and could really use any suggestions that you all have. There are some things that I’ve tried (shaking things up a bit with the digital camera and the outdoor sex, for example), but I would appreciate any advice or insight you all have to offer.
So what have you got?