Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock, gpointstudio/shutterstockWork and sex aren’t typically promoted as being mutually beneficial, but new research is suggesting that combining the two, in a sense, could be the key to achieving strong work-life balance.
In a study published this month in the Journal of Management, researchers Christopher Barnes and Trevor Watkins of the University of Washington and David Wagner of the University of Oregon analyzed the work and sex habits of married employees and found that those who prioritized sex at home unintentionally gave themselves an advantage at work the following day. They were more likely to delve deeper into their tasks and even rejoice in their work environment.
“We make jokes about people having a ‘spring in their step,’ but it turns out this is actually a real thing and we should pay attention to it,” says Keith Leavitt, an associate professor in OSU’s College of Business, and an expert in organizational behavior and management. “Maintaining a healthy relationship that includes a healthy sex life will help employees stay happy and engaged in their work, which benefits the employees and the organizations they work for.”
For their findings, the researchers followed 159 married employees over the course of two weeks, asking them to complete two short surveys each day. The results revealed that those who had sex the night before reported a boost in mood that prompted an increase in job morale and productiveness. However, it was also found that those who brought work-related stress home had negatively impacted sex lives.
Sex serves as a natural mood booster because the act itself promotes the release of the feel-good hormone dopamine, which helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, as well as oxytocin, which is widely referred to as the love hormone, and is linked to social bonding and attachment. Such hormone releases stay in effect for at least 24 hours, according to the study. And when taking into consideration marital satisfaction and sleep quality, which both alter daily mood, the researchers found that the effect is just as prevalent in men as it is in women.
“This is a reminder that sex has social, emotional, and physiological benefits, and it’s important to make it a priority,” Leavitt said. “Just make time for it.”
Though the Human Resources department won’t likely promote sex as a key to work-life balance, they can simply encourage employees to leave work at the office. “Making a more intentional effort to maintain a healthy sex life should be considered an issue of human sustainability, and as a result, a potential career advantage,” Leavitt said.