Your love is like a drug. Then again, so is Oxycodone.
February 10, 2010 3:17 PM   Subscribe

When I sleep poorly, I've noticed that sex or a percocet will help me feel better. What brain chemicals are being produced by these activities, and how can I replicate them in a healthy way?

Note: I took percocet while passing a kidney stone and noticed I could stay up pretty late and still feel ok the next day. I am 40-something, and my sleep is kind of poor, but I don't qualify for a cpap machine. Generally, when I miss sleep, feel like crap, and start to get a minor migraine around 1pm. Excedrin with caffeine helps a little, as does the aforementioned morning sex.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
do other headache pills help? it might be caffeine in the excedrin that's giving you that boost.

is it just sex that gives you the boost or is it an orgasm? you can start your days by masturbating and then drinking a glass of tea and you'll have the endorphins from the orgasm and the caffeine to combat the tired.

personally, i like masturbating directly before i go to sleep to remove the problem all together (i always sleep way better if i can get off first).
posted by nadawi at 3:20 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sex and narcotic medicine affect your dopamine levels. Certain foods and excercise can also affect dopamine (e.g., the "runner's high"), but usually not as intensely or as noticable as sex and drugs.
posted by Eicats at 3:27 PM on February 10, 2010


(and by sex, I mean orgasm)
posted by Eicats at 3:28 PM on February 10, 2010


Eat a healthy diet, spend time with friends, work a job you like, have novelty in your daily life. Those will all help you with getting the happy brain chemicals. You're really asking how to live well.
posted by MillMan at 3:42 PM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I swear to god if I hear another "dopamine!" answer I'm gonna vomit. If you really want to understand the neural mechanisms underlying the vastly different realms of sexual activity and opiate consumption, it's gonna take some serious study.

Pedantically, no activity produces brain chemicals (short of imbibing a precursor, and even then it would be iffy to say "produces").

While sex and opiates may both have impacts (different impacts, mind you) on activity levels in the ventral tegmental area, ventral striatum and nucleus accumbens, the dopaminergic activity in these pathways is complicated, and the answer isn't simply "There's more dopamine!"

I would be willing to bet that it's percocet's action on the, surprise, opiod system that plays more of a role in your sleep patterns, and that sex's effects on your sleep are more closely tied to a vasopressin/cortisol interaction, but even statements like this are gross oversimplifications that don't really explain much about what's going on.

However, if what you're looking for is a just-so story with neurochemical names in it, tell this one rather than the dopamine one.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 3:53 PM on February 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


I've noticed that sex or a percocet will help me feel better. What brain chemicals are being produced by these activities, and how can I replicate them in a healthy way?

I can't comment on the percocet, but sex is a healthy way to feel good.
posted by dfriedman at 4:33 PM on February 10, 2010


Try wearing very warm clothing. Sex causes vasodilation and oxy can too. Do you wake up in a hot shower too? Half the reason I wrote my sleep routine up was because of my vaso issues - I massively overcontract. It's winter now - if I weren't wearing thermals there'd be zero chance of me getting to sleep tonight. My legs would burn like hell when I get into bed and it'd keep me up all night.

I know you're talking about things that'll work after a bad night's sleep, I just haven't been focused there. Usually I just increase my caloric intake and that knocks the bad aspects away, but I overproduce insulin (another vasodialator) in response to food. I'll have to try staying warm in the morning next time I don't sleep well and see how that works.
posted by jwells at 5:50 PM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


How is sex not a healthy way?
posted by Jacqueline at 7:01 PM on February 10, 2010


I would be willing to bet that it's percocet's action on the, surprise, opiod system that plays more of a role in your sleep patterns, and that sex's effects on your sleep are more closely tied to a vasopressin/cortisol interaction, but even statements like this are gross oversimplifications that don't really explain much about what's going on.

The OP appears to be talking about feeling good after poor sleep.

IANAMD, but I keep seeing amino acids coming up when I read about depleted neurotransmitters:

http://www.uncommonforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=1408
posted by mecran01 at 10:26 PM on February 10, 2010


I understand that the OP was asking about feeling good after taking opiates and then experiencing limited sleep, and that the poor sleep comment applied to his sleep patterns in general. Either way, that doesn't change my intentionally vague opinion about the systems underlying his propensity to feel good after less sleep with sex or drugs.

Yeah, amino acids are often the precursors I mentioned above. I don't see where you read about depleted neurotransmitters in this thread though.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 1:10 PM on February 11, 2010


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