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Is masturbating better than napping? Here's what science has to say

If I don’t nap by 3 p.m, I’m grouchy and borderline incapable of functioning. But I don’t always have time to fit in a solid amount of midday sleep, so recently, I’ve been masturbating instead of napping. Orgasms leave me feeling refreshed and focused, not to mention kinda sexy, and I think I’m even sleeping better at night. But is there science behind choosing masturbation over a nap, or am I just trying to justify my own thirsty habit?

Napping has been proven to have some serious cognitive benefits, such as improving your reaction time; one 2003 study even showed that people perform as well on logistical tests after an hour-long nap as they do after a full night of sleep. There have been precious few similar studies done on masturbation and brain function, however. The ones that do exist mostly center around older men and athletes (see: the patriarchy), with research finding that older men with higher sexual activity (solo or partnered) have better information recall than those without.

For the rest of us, it's unclear if masturbation improves our cognitive functioning in the same way as napping. But that doesn't mean that it's not still really, really good for us. “Modern research suggests that masturbation enhances both physiological and psychological well being," says Carlos Cavazos, an Austin-based psychotherapist, sex coach, and host of the sex advice Youtube channel Ask Carlos.

Indeed, masturbation has been said to improve sleep, reduce stress, alleviate the pain of menstrual cramps, and increase sexual desire and sensitivity in women. It also can relieve some symptoms of depression, as an orgasm “releases feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine and oxytocin that lift your spirits, boost your satisfaction, and activate the reward circuits in your brain," sex researcher Gloria Brame told Psychology Today. And in men specifically, orgasms have been connected with a lowered risk of prostate cancer and longer lifespans, among other things.

So what's actually better for you — masturbation or napping? In other words, can you scientifically justify *ahem* taking a mid-afternoon Hitatchi magic wand sesh instead of a siesta?

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“I sure would,” says Cavazos. He explains that in addition to its other perks, masturbation releases the hormone prolactin into your brain, which leaves you feeling less stressed and more fulfilled. "This might help you cope better with that pesky coworker or demanding client," he notes.

On any given day, one-third of Americans take a nap break, with the practice having become so popular that private (and pricey) “nap lounges” have even cropped up in some cities. But instead of fitting in an afternoon sleep session, you might want to consider taking a masturbation break instead — and plenty of people are already doing just that.

“Chances are a lot of your coworkers are getting off during the work day,” Cavazos says, noting that a 2015 Time Out New York survey found that 39 percent of respondents reported having masturbated during work. "So if you come across happier than usual coworkers," adds Cavazos, "there’s a chance they just practiced some self love.”

If you can't choose whether to use your 30-minute lunch break for a power nap or something dirtier, though, don't worry — you don't have to. “A nap that will actually leave you feeling energized and not tired afterwards would ideally be about 20 minutes,” says Cavazos. “So if you can rub one off in 10, you can benefit from the improved sleep that an orgasm will give you and then feel refreshed from the power nap.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m totally sold on napsturbation. Power masturbapping? Whatever you call it, I’m in.