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In The 40-Year-old Virgin, Seth Rogen asks Steve Carell if he wants to hear about this “fun game.” “Take three Excedrin PMs and see if you can whack off before you fall asleep,” he says.

Pause. Then, “You always win is the best part.”

Rogen probably didn’t even need the Excedrin P.M. Self-pleasuring is, scientifically speaking, a sleep aid in its own right. Provided you’re in a secure location and your mom, boss or spiritual counselor aren’t on the other side of the door, a solo spank session is a great stress reliever.

Research has shown that in order to reach orgasm, your body and mind must slip into a relaxed state, so you have to let go of your anxieties and fears (both of which keep us wired and awake). If your fight-or-flight mechanism is disabled it’s not surprising that you’ll feel a bit more tired.

Then there’s the biochemistry of the orgasm itself. We’re not just talking dopamine (once referred to by British neuroscientist Vaughan Bell as “the Kim Kardashian of neurotransmitters” because everyone knows about it). During ejaculation, “men release a cocktail of brain chemicals, including norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin, nitric oxide, and the hormone prolactin.”

Oxytocin and vasopressin are linked with sleep, and are generally released along with melatonin, the main hormone that regulates our body clocks. Oxytocin, often called the “love” or “cuddle” hormone because it’s secreted when people snuggle or bond, also floods women’s brains during the Big O. It makes sense that a chemical that contributes to trust and intimacy would also reduce stress levels, and encourage drowsiness and calm.

I thought norepinephrine was similar to adrenaline.

It’s the combination of norepinephrine, serotonin and nitric oxide released into the system after ejaculation that leads to relaxation. Specifically norepinephrine levels spike during orgasm and then decline. A big blast of nitric oxide from getting off triggers an increase in serotonin; serotonin derived from tryptophan, is known to have a calming effect on the brain.

During orgasm, the brain also fires off endorphins, those feel-good neurotransmitters associated with euphoria and pain easement. So while you’re closing out those incognito windows on your browser or powering down the vibrator, you’re in the afterglow of a dopamine spike and awash in a calming array of biochemicals. It’s a perfect storm for sleep.

So dopamine does figure in.

We are hardwired to like sex, as it’s the mechanism we use to perpetuate the species. Our nervous system encourages us to think about sex. Carnal thoughts trigger our brains to release the neurochemical dopamine, causing feelings of pleasure and motivating us to want more of it. While its function is complex and multifaceted, one of its roles is tied to the brain’s reward system.

Often associated with compulsive behavior and addiction, dopamine stimulates the brain’s receptors, making it hungry for more dopamine. In this case, it means making you want to touch yourself with increased passion.

How does masturbation compare with partnered sex?

While masturbation is a highway to Sleepytown for both sexes, the male climax that includes a partner has a special somnambulant quality. When a man spills his seed, his body releases the hormone prolactin, which along with fleeting sensation of sexual satisfaction, is also associated with sleep.

For reasons that are not known, studies have shown that “intercourse orgasms release four times more prolactin than masturbatory orgasms, ” bringing about the post sex stupor that is the bane of female sexual partners the world over.

David Zinczenko, the author of Men, Love and Sex: The Complete User Guide for Women, explained it this way: “Men go to sleep because women don’t turn into a pizza.”