Sleep is vitally important. Anyone with difficulties sleeping can tell you that. Yet, a good night’s rest eludes nearly one-third of men and women in the United States. There are a whole slew of health concerns associated with lack of sleep, and if you are trying to grow your family, sleep may be more important than you realize.
Read on to learn more about problems with sleep and the connection to infertility.
Sleep and Its Impact on Fertility
A full night’s sleep does a body good. It refreshes your mind and body and restores all of your bodily systems. You can think of sleep as essentially pushing the reset button and giving all these operating systems a much-needed break.
Your circadian rhythm is the natural, internal clock that regulates your sleep-wake cycle and restores many biological processes. Chronic problems with sleeping mean that the brain and organ systems that regulate important fertility-related hormones aren’t benefitting from sleep’s restorative properties. This is true for both women and men, as the part of your brain that regulates sleep-wake hormones also triggers a release of daily reproductive hormones.
While not much is known about sleep and fertility, it appears that a lack of sleep could mean you won’t be as fertile as you and your partner would like to be.
Sleep and Ovulation
In women, sleep appears to have a direct impact on ovulation. Women working as shift workers often experience abnormalities in their menstruation and fertility because their late-night work messes with their natural circadian rhythms. This shows that the sleep-wake cycle seems to play a role in female reproductive health.
Long-term sleep problems can affect the release of luteinizing hormone. The LH triggers ovulation as part of your regular menstrual cycle. The results can be irregular periods and difficulties conceiving.
Does Sleep Affect Sperm Count?
Sleep also appears to affect sperm count and other aspects of male reproductive health. Men who are trying to conceive may find that skimping on sleep has a number of detrimental effects, such as:
- Reduced testosterone levels
- Lower sperm count and motility
- Increased levels of anti-sperm antibodies that damage healthy sperm
Can Lack of Sleep Prevent Pregnancy?
While the connection between sleep and conception is still vague, it definitely warrants additional research. We do not know for sure if a lack of sleep can affect implantation. However, long-term sleep loss disrupts more than hormonal balance. Here are some other ways lack of sleep can potentially prevent pregnancy:
- Stress: Poor sleep and feelings of stress or anxiety often go hand in hand. Not only can stress cause sleeplessness, but sleepless nights leave you feeling more stressed. Infertility can also compound your stress, leading to even more disturbed sleep.
- Irritability and mood swings: It’s no secret — lack of sleep can leave you in a bad mood. Over time, this irritability can pay a toll on your relationship with your partner and lead to fewer opportunities for intimacy.
- Health problems: The CDC reports that those who struggle with sleep have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. These conditions can have a harmful impact on your fertility.
How to Sleep When Trying to Conceive
Struggling with infertility and trying to conceive is not easy. Whether you’re pursuing IVF or another form of fertility treatment, there’s a lot of stress and uncertainty surrounding this time. This is bound to create some sleepless nights. While not everything is known about sleep’s connection to infertility, hitting that sweet spot between seven and eight hours of sleep every night can significantly benefit your reproductive health.
Everyone has their tried and true methods of getting more quality sleep — so, be sure to try them all. You can also talk to your doctor or the experts at Western Fertility Institute about your lack of sleep to find out if an underlying medical issue could be a contributing factor.
Here are some other tips that may help you get the vital sleep you need:
- Arrange a regular sleep schedule: Everyone’s work schedule is different. If your job requires you to wake with the dawn, be sure to hit the hay early. Then, try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on your care-free weekends.
- Turn off your phone: Be sure to take care of those last-minute social media posts or emails at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted by your favorite tech gadgets can interfere with your sleep-wake cycle and suppress melatonin. This vital sleep hormone plays a role in protecting your eggs during ovulation.
- Get into the outdoors: Your body’s sleep cycle thrives on at least an hour of sunlight each day. Split up that time throughout the day and soak in some rays by taking a short walk, eating lunch outside or playing a game of fetch with your pup.
- Avoid working odd hours if you can help it: Shift work has been documented to affect fertility.
- Still your mind: Those sweet hours before bed are not the time to pay bills, watch scary movies or dwell on your fertility struggles. So, avoid any activities or thoughts that get your mind racing. Instead, find a calming nightly ritual like getting a massage from your partner or soaking in a bubble bath.
- Don’t consume stimulating drinks before you go to bed: It may seem extreme, but keeping a four- to six-hour buffer between drinking caffeine or alcohol and your bedtime can aid you in getting a full and restful night’s sleep.
Contact Western Fertility Institute for Support Throughout Your Fertility Journey
While it’s not entirely known how sleep impacts fertility, getting a good night’s rest is always a great idea, as it will help you feel better and improve your outlook during this challenging time.
Getting enough sleep may be one of the factors you need to consider during the evaluation and treatment of infertility as well. If you’re not sure what other steps to take, Western Fertility Institute is here to help. Our team of medical professionals will determine what’s preventing you and your partner from conceiving. We’ll then work with you to find your family’s best course of treatment to help you achieve your dream of parenthood.
While we’re based in Los Angeles, we work with clients all over the world to help achieve their dreams of becoming a parent. Schedule your appointment today to learn more.