We’ve stressed the importance of sleep numerous times. We know it can lower the risk of heart disease, promote healing and keep us focused. We also know it can help manage weight and keep our immune systems healthy. But there’s another aspect that sleep may help with – fertility. As many as 6.1 million American women have fertility issues while a growing number of men have male infertility. The jury isn’t out on the exact connection, but there’s research to suggest that lack of sleep can negatively affect fertility. While more studies need to be done to find a direct link, couples trying to conceive should prioritize sleep to increase their chances of conception.
A study led by Lauren Wise of Boston University School of Public Health suggests that too little – and too much – sleep can also affect men’s fertility. It’s not known exactly why but it’s believed to be hormonal. Testosterone, which is essential for reproduction, is mainly released during sleep. Men who don’t get enough sleep may have trouble impregnating their partners owing to lower testosterone. Sleeping for 7 to 8 hours of sleep is thought to be the ideal duration for positive testosterone levels.
Sleep regulates the secretion of hormones including reproductive ones like leptin, estrogen, progesterone and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Women who don’t get quality sleep can find themselves more likely to experience infertility than those who sleep well as their hormones are thrown out of balance. Research by Tri-Service General Hospital and National Defense Medical Center in Taipei has shown that women with sleep disorders (excluding sleep apnea) may be three times as likely to be infertile while those with insomnia were four times as likely.
Poor sleep increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can make you anxious and irritable. Such emotions don’t exactly set the stage for a fulfilling relationship, let alone lovemaking. It also reduces sex drive. Conception requires couples to have sex as often as possible especially during a woman’s fertile period, so it’s important to sleep well and be in a positive state of mind. A happy relationship opens up more opportunities for having sex and ups the chance of conception.
There’s much to be done to confirm the connection between sleep and fertility, but in the meantime, couples can do what they can to increase theirs. Here are a few tips that men and women can benefit from.
Power down gadgets at least an hour before bed to help you sleep. The blue light emitted from gadget screens suppresses the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. It delays drowsiness and consequently, sleep. But that’s not all. Melatonin can also improve the quality of women’s eggs by protecting them against environmental stressors. The more you’re on your screen, the less viable eggs become.
According to a study co-authored by Dr. Alex Pastuszak from the Center for Reproductive Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, shift work may also indirectly affect male fertility by lowering sperm quality and contributing to erectile dysfunction. The research found that out of 75 infertile men who were examined, those who worked the graveyard shift had significantly lower sperm count than those who didn’t. The researchers believe that this could be due to changing hormone levels caused by altered circadian rhythms. They also found that men with shift-work sleep disorders had worse erectile dysfunction and low testosterone.
Not everyone has the fortune to choose their working hours. For those who do, try to stick to normal timings. Shift work can affect women’s fertility as it disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm. This rhythm is closely tied to lower estrogen levels and irregular menstrual cycles, both of which can impact fertility.
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What you eat can influence fertility so couples should take note of their diet. Limit consumption of soy as consuming too much is thought to lower sperm quality. Fruits and vegetables, plant-based fats, white meat, and dairy are believed to increase the chances of conception. It goes without saying that alcohol and cigarettes are off the table!
Getting good sleep may not guarantee conception, but it’s one of the most important things you can do to improve chances. Unwinding at the end of the day, taking a warm bath before bed and keeping your bedroom dark and cool can help you sleep. Using the best mattress is also important as you won’t be able to sleep on an uncomfortable surface.
Nuvanna is designed to promote better sleep through its triple-layered construction. It’s the brainchild of a mattress scientist with over 20 years’ experience. The top layer is a cooling gel layer that features phase-changing gel particles to absorb body heat and disperse it. The middle layer isolates motion and lets you and yours sleep without disturbing each other with your movements. The bottom layer provides support to the body and keeps the spine neutrally aligned.
Sleep should be a priority for every couple trying to conceive. It’s as important as eating a healthy diet, ditching alcohol, and having sex as often as possible. If you have sleep disorders, speak to an expert who can help treat them. Good sleep brings a list of positive changes such as emotional balance, which can keep your relationship with your partner loving and positive. It also keeps you healthy, which could possibly boost fertility. There’s everything to gain and nothing to lose!