Carried out by a team from Oregon State University, the University of Oregon, and the University of Washington, the researchers followed 159 married employees over the course of two weeks and asked them to complete two brief surveys each day.
The responses showed that employees who had made time for sex at home reported more positive moods the next day once back in the office, and this better mood in the morning led to more sustained engagement in their work and job satisfaction throughout the workday.
The effect was seen even after the researchers took into account marital satisfaction and sleep quality, which are two common predictors of daily mood, and appeared to last for at least 24 hours.
It was also equally strong for both men and women.
“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,” said Keith Leavitt, one of the study’s co-authors, “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.”
Leavitt also explained that because sex triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with the reward centers in the brain, as well as oxytocin, a neuropeptide associated with social bonding and attachment, it is a natural mood elevator with benefits that can last well into the next day.
The study also showed that bringing work-related stress home from the office can have a negative impact on employees’ sex lives, with Leavitt adding that in a world where we are constantly connected to work via smartphones and emails, the findings highlight the importance of switching off and leaving work back at the office.
“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.”