When people talk about a one-night stand and its effects on the body, you often hear a tired narrative about regret. Take a look at the glossy, comically uniform covers of Cosmopolitan over the past 50 years, scrawled with such cover lines as: The Emotional Repercussions of One-Night Stands. Regret 101: The Psychology of One-Night Stands. Are One-Night Stands Worth It? Why One-Night Stands are Totally Worth It. Why One-Night Stands are Totally Not Worth It.
Essentially, one-nighters trigger an emotional response that makes you feel either spectacular or shitty about yourself. But we’re not here to contemplate if brief encounters are "good" or "bad" for you. That's your business. We’re more interested in sleep. Sex, too, of course, but mostly sleep.
People rarely talk about the act of actually sleeping when you sleep with someone new. By consenting to a one-night tryst, are you also consenting to zero sleep? Does it even matter? (Spoiler alert: of course not.)
To learn more, Van Winkle's surveyed a number of men and women, 25- through 34-years-old and of varying sexual orientation, about their sleep expectations and experiences during one-night stands.
Turns out, despite the consequences of just one night of sleep loss — from exhaustion and trouble concentrating to poor memory recall and a decrease in brain tissue — most people (58 percent) said they were willing to sacrifice shut-eye to test out the mattress springs with someone new.
Here are their thoughts when it comes to (literally) sleeping with someone for the first time.
“I’m willing to give up sleep for sex because... I’ll sleep when I’m dead. But really, it’s because, for some of us, the sexy time is so infrequent that skipping a few hours of sleep is worth it to get over a dry spell.” —Jessica*, New York, 27
“Sleeping with someone new is like trying a new beverage for the first time — it could either be the most delicious elixir of all time that gives you lasting energy, or it makes you slump over in a corner and drink only water the next day. It’s a risk I’m usually willing to take because opening myself up to something new by sleeping with someone new is a fun challenge.” —Elena, Los Angeles, 25
“Sleeping with an unfamiliar person in an unfamiliar situation that’s inherently loaded with anxiety just adds to my existing anxiety. One-night stands are just not worth a good night’s sleep (or Netflix binge) anymore.” —John, Atlanta, 34
“Sex isn't worth a bad night's sleep, but good sex is a worthy replacement for a decent night’s rest. This is because nothing can replace that magical moment at 3 a.m. when you're in the dark, under the covers with someone, being given the opportunity to be intimate. Nothing.” —Alexi, San Francisco, 26
“Your poor sleep situation will probably improve at a rate more rapid than sex deprivation. So yeah, I’ll always pick sex over sleep.” —Aron, New York, 25
“I'm a finicky one-night stand sleeper because I worry about everything: Do I sleep facing him? Do I sleep facing away, or is that closed-off-ish? Does he mind if I want to cuddle all night? Am I drooling? Will he want to hook in the morning? I can never get comfortable.” —Teresa, London, 29
“Nine times out of 10, a one-night stand is like the anti-REM. Either they’re snoring or you’re worried that you’ll start snoring. Or you’re snuggling but it’s too hot. After a few hours of shit sleep, their alarm goes off because they probably forgot to unset it. But then again, there are those unicorn one-night stand situations where you have the best sleep ever — those should be noted highly in all black books. Always call them back.” —Cynthia, Los Angeles, 28
“After sex with someone new, I sometimes find I'm suddenly no longer attracted to them immediately afterward and really don't want them in my bed. I can't sleep knowing they're right over there. But if it's someone I've slept with before and let into my bed for a second time, I'm much more comfortable and actually probably sleep better.” —Jamie, Washington, D.C, 27
“I think good sex has a number of health benefits that compensate for bad sleep. First off, there's the confidence boost that gives me a notable spring in my step, plus all those endorphins from the added workout and resulting orgasm (ideally). For me, it's similar to the way I feel after an awesome massage or workout class — fully worked, but refreshed and ready to go.” —Jackie, London, 30
*Names have been changed