How Sleep Quality Impacts Fertility (and What You Can Do About It)
For many, getting to sleep isn’t the problem — making time for sleep is. Busy schedules, coupled with caffeine boosts tend to cut into the hours needed for sleep. In fact, 35.2% of all adults in the U.S. report sleeping on average for less than seven hours per night.
Sleeping is a form of passive physical rest that allows your body to renew itself. While we're asleep, waste products are removed, repairs are effected, energy is restored, and enzymes and hormones are replenished, including the hormones responsible for fertility and maintaining pregnancy. When it comes to achieving a healthy pregnancy, getting quality sleep plays a big role.
Ways Sleep Quality Impacts Fertility
Inconsistent Sleep Patterns
In both women and men, the same part of the brain that regulates the sleep-wake hormones melatonin and cortisol also triggers a daily release of reproductive hormones. These hormones are naturally occurring and produced throughout the day to help regulate your sleep and body temperature. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day allows for that consistent effect. It doesn’t necessarily matter what time. Getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep daily can improve your levels of progesterone, estrogen, Leptin, and Follicle-Stimulating Hormones (FSH), all of which are crucial to achieving and carrying a pregnancy.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s study, women with low-quality sleep had lower rates of fertility than those getting adequate rest. So if you’re trying to conceive or going through IVF, be sure to get 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night to give yourself your best chance of success.
Stress and Fatigue
Believe it or not, fatigue is one of the most common causes of sleeplessness, and a lack of sleep due to stress or overworking can inhibit the production of the hormones responsible for reproduction. If you are trying to conceive and you work night shifts, you may want to consider changing your schedule. Studies have shown that working the night shift can disrupt your circadian rhythm, causing hormonal imbalances, lower estrogen levels, and irregular menstrual cycles. These changes can all make it more difficult to both achieve a pregnancy and carry a pregnancy to term.
Screentime Before Bed
Using low-voltage lighting in the evening can help boost sleep, especially for those who experience trouble falling asleep. Avoiding blue lights from electronics can also helps you sleep better. Studies show that the blue light from electronics can actually inhibit good quality sleep. The blue light suppresses melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep and protecting your eggs when you are close to ovulation. This can also affect egg quality, which could make conceiving more difficult. So, if you're having trouble falling or staying asleep, try to stay off your phone for at least one hour before bedtime.
What You Can Do To Get Better Sleep
Repair Your Sleep Pattern
Start by getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep every day. Though it depends on the individual, going to bed at a particular time can affect the quality of your sleep. Experiment with different sleep and wake times to find out what your body needs, and hopefully this will lead to more effective sleep patterns for optimal health and fertility.
Taking frequent breaks throughout the workday can help keep you feeling refreshed. Stretch, take brisk walks, drink plenty of water, and take a few deep breaths every hour. All of this will make you feel more energized and less exhausted.
Try to still your mind at least an hour before bed. Avoid responding to work emails, reading murder mysteries, or watching movies with troubling storylines. Basically, cease any activity that might keep your mind from relaxing into a peaceful sleep. Instead, make a habit out of nightly calming rituals like meditation, counting your blessings, or partner massage. Fill your mind with gratitude. A clear conscience and grateful mind are pillows to sleep on.
The Bottom Line
We get it, you're busy. Daily responsibilities can be fast-paced and exhausting. However, rest is an important part of our life and overall health that should be taken seriously. Getting enough sleep keeps you relaxed, restores energy, combats nervous tension, helps keep away anxiety and depression, and overall, keeps your body running. Your health is your most valued possession. You may be tempted to skip sleep to get more done, but in the long run, it can lead to burnout and become counterproductive. That's why it's important to make sleep a priority, especially when you are trying to conceive. Your future fertility will thank you.
Chioma Eve is a freelance wellness, healthcare, and life-science writer with experience writing about general health and wellness, healthcare technology, genetics, mental health, and her favorite, women's health. At the intersection of marketing and healthcare is where she finds her voice, helping brands convey their message and interpret their vision through easily digestible articles. You can connect with her on Twitter and on LinkedIn.