We've heard a lot recently about how Americans are sleep-deprived -- and now a survey of working parents finds they're sex-deprived, as well.
Seventy percent said they're too tired to get romantic after a tough day of work. Psychotherapist and relationship expert Heide Banks said on "The Early Show" Tuesday that "really is a staggering number. It's so understandable - the demands of parenting these days, helping with homework, car pooling, shopping. It's a wonder anybody is having sex."
How often are couples having sex?
"This is the scary thing," Banks remarked to co-anchor Chris Wragge. "Under 30, or in the honeymoon phase of the relationship, two-to-three times a week. Over 30, 59 times a year. So that's a little bit more than once a week. When you get to be about 60 or 70, once a month. So anywhere in there," Banks explains. "But you can't compare yourself. You can't get in to a numbers game. It's about connecting in a relationship. So if you're sitting home going, 'Oh, honey, it's only 54 times and it's already New Year's Eve,' no, you can't do that. You've got to really allow your relationship to be what it's supposed to be."
Wragge pointed out that lot of it is based on where the relationship stands.
"Exactly," Banks says. A common response Banks finds in her research is, "I'm just too tired for it right now."
According to Banks, research says there are three things that affect whether or not you're having sex. Health and hormones: Obviously, as you get older, your sex drive decreases with most people. How tired you are is number two out of that whole list. And even more important than that how happy the relationship is."
Are those the real major factors for married couples?
"Absolutely. If you're not happy or exhausted, you're not having a great sex life. If you're not healthy, you're not having a great sex life."
"Is it one of those things where if you really want to do it, you can find time?" Wragge asks.
"We all know that. It really does boil down to that. But you've got to make it a priority. Make connecting a priority and you've got to make the enjoyment of it a priority. So maybe skip the trip to the mall. A lot of us get distracted with the little things in our life."
Fatigue can really affect one's libido, as well.
"There is nothing that stresses you out more than not having enough sleep. If you don't have enough sleep, your libido is low. But on the other side of it is, if you push yourself to have sex, it does energize your libido. So it's one of those two sided coins," she adds.
Banks points out that you have to look beneath the "I'm too tired" phrase. "It's always the issue beneath it, like what's really going on here? Have you connected, have you taken the time as a couple? Are there other stresses coming in to the relationship? Because you just can't use that excuse," she says.
So what can married couples with children do who to spice up their sex lives?
Banks suggests getting up a half hour earlier before the kids wake up and break the pattern.
"We always think of sex in the evening and we're exhausted. Wake up a little early and start your day that way," she stresses. "Again, re-prioritize your relationship, make connecting a priority. And number three, the most important thing, make you a priority and get more sleep. We always make the kids the priority. A good marriage makes the couple the priority."
"I remember growing up my father used to say to my mother, 'hey, we're going to go away for a few hours' and he would turn to us kids and he'd say 'this is our time.' And we knew what that meant," Banks says.
"Go play. Don't come back," Wragge jokes.
"We knew it wasn't time to go buy school supplies, it was a time for them, let's put it that way," Banks says. "And again, exhaustion, get more sleep. Sleep is the most important thing we can do for our health and it affects every area of our life. So maybe instead of taking a vacation, take a little sleep vacation. Say I'm going to take the day off from work and I'm going to rest."
"A little rest can go a long way," Wragge adds.