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Sleep and fertility – is there a link?

Can you imagine how it is not getting any sleep? It is a terrible thought, right? You probably know how rough it is by getting through the day on less than 7 hours of sleep a night- which is too little, as it is best to have at least 8 hours of sleep a night in order to be functioning and to maintain good health.

It is crucial to have enough sleep because it affects your overall health, quality of life, as well as fertility. Because a good night’s sleep helps restore and refresh your brain, organ systems, and helps regulate hormones- that includes hormones that are fertility related.

The same part of the brain that regulates sleep-wake hormones such as cortisol and melatonin also is responsible for regulating productive hormones such as the luteinizing hormone (LH). That is the hormone that triggers ovulation when it rises, and it is also responsible for keeping your menstrual cycle regular.

How it affects fertility

Therefore, if women are not sleeping enough or having a proper quality of sleep (constantly waking up in the night and feeling poorly rested during the day), the lack of sleep could very well affect the release of LH, which can prevent ovulation from happening, and be the cause of irregular cycles.

It is also important to note that in men, lack of sleep can also affect the maturation of sperm so it certainly has negative effects on both men and women.

Not only does lack of sleep cause hormonal imbalance, but it can affect your fertility in other ways such as diabetes, cardiovascular conditions as well as obesity.

When you are sleeping poorly, you are going to be prone to craving simple carbs and trans fats. You will be more likely to grab a candy bar or a bag of chips instead of a healthy snack like fruit or veggies in a dip. You will be craving sugar a lot more and it has to do with high cortisol levels.

While lack of sleep can prevent ovulation from happening, you are prone to falling into poor lifestyles, which also means you will be less likely have the energy to exercise. The lack of sleep is keeping your fertility and overall health quite poor as a result.

Not to mention, you will be more than irritable, drowsy and have problems with concentration and memory if your sleep quality is poor. You may be prone to illnesses such as catching viruses easily.

Causes of sleep disorders

There are many things that can cause problems with sleep. If you are not under a considerable amount of stress (which is notorious for causing poor sleep), then you will want to make an appointment with your doctor to make sure there is no underlying cause. In fact, your doctor may want you to have a sleep study done to rule out any underlying issues such as sleep apnea, insomnia or restless legs syndrome.

How to help your fertility

If you are not having any health issues that are getting in the way of your sleep, then you need to start getting back into a good sleep habit where you can get at least 7 hours a sleep each night because daylight and sleep are integral to our biological clocks.

However, if you genuinely feel well rested on less than 7 hours of sleep, it is possible that you don’t require 7 hours to function. Sleep requirements can vary from person to person, and from season to season.

You will also want to get outdoors for a 10-minute walk each day. If you are in a colder climate or if you have been having a lot of rain, you will want to use a lightbox which is a portable unit that allows you to get light when you are stuck indoors. They are often used for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

It is also recommended not to work odd hours if you can help it. If you are working late night, or have graveyard shift hours, that can get in the way of your sleep, and cause irregular cycles and reproductive disturbances. If a pregnancy did happen while working odd hours or if you were sleeping poorly, the pregnancy could be at risk as lack of sleep is not good for the unborn baby.

If you are trying to conceive, doing shift work is not recommended for women, and even for men! Your chances of chances of getting pregnant can be affected.

Also, go to bed at the same time every day, even on weekends because a consistent sleep-wake schedule will help you maintain a healthy sleep cycle.

As it is known that stress is a killer for proper sleep, so, therefore, be sure to pay your bills earlier in the day, don’t read disturbing books, or don’t watch disturbing movies, and stay away from websites that could upset you. That will only cause your mind to race which will cause you to fall asleep much later than you had intended when you end up having to wake up just a few hours later!

It is also a good idea to keep lighting dim late at night so it helps you get tired, as bright lights in the evening can actually shift your body clock.

Also, be sure not to drink any coffee later than 2 pm and limit your caffeine intake especially while trying to get pregnant. However, too much caffeine can keep you wired in the evening. The same goes for chocolate. Don’t eat too much of it especially if it is late in the evening.

Given that you are trying to conceive, you will want to avoid alcohol as alcohol also disturbs your sleep.

Last but not least, as tempting as it may be to take something to help you sleep, stay away from melatonin supplements if you are trying to conceive because there is a risk of suppressing your fertility even further!

So do what you can to make sure you are getting a good night sleep, and as long as you feel rested and you are functioning well even on less than 7 hours of sleep (as sleep can vary which was mentioned earlier), and you are taking care of yourself- you can start trying to conceive.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post. Please note if you have any concerns always consult a medical professional.
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