Sleep & Fertility: Why Catching Zzz’s Is Important
We have heard it time and time again. Sleep is super important for your overall health. Did you know that it is also essential for fertility? Sleep plays a crucial role in so many areas of fertility, from hormonal health to sex drive. Keep reading to learn more about how sleep affects fertility for females …
We have heard it time and time again. Sleep is super important for your overall health. Did you know that it is also essential for fertility? Sleep plays a crucial role in so many areas of fertility, from hormonal health to sex drive.
Keep reading to learn more about how sleep affects fertility for females and males, how much sleep you need, and how to improve your sleep.
How Does Sleep Affect Fertility?
There are many factors in fertility, but one thing you can do to boost your fertility focuses on catching those zzz’s. Here are some specific ways that sleep directly impacts your body when it comes to fertility.
When it comes to fertility, balanced hormones are essential. After all, the entire menstruation cycle is governed by specific hormones. Sleep helps synthesize, secrete, and metabolize those sex hormones—estrogen and progesterone—responsible for reproduction.
Lack of sleep can cause your body to produce more cortisol—the stress hormone. An increase in cortisol can decrease ovulation and fertilization. An increase in cortisol can also cause a decrease in progesterone, which is vital for preparing the uterus for implantation of the egg and maintaining pregnancy.
Ovulation is the first step in conceiving. Without the ovaries releasing the egg, sperm would not be able to fertilize the egg.
Ovulation happens because of a delicate balance of hormones. These hormones are directly tied to your sleep patterns. When you do not get enough sleep, the hormones responsible for ovulation may not trigger efficiently.
Another important factor in fertility is your sex drive. If you have a low sex drive, it may cause you not to have sex as often as you should when trying to get pregnant. One thing you can do you increase your sex drive? You guessed it, more sleep.
The reason why sleep is vital for libido has to do with testosterone. As we discussed, when you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more cortisol.
When your body is working to create cortisol, it is unable to produce the testosterone it needs. You may be thinking testosterone is a male hormone. Actually, women produce testosterone as well. Not only does it play a part in bone health and cognitive health, but it may also control your sex drive.
Getting the right amount of sleep also plays a big role in your overall health—both emotional and physical. If you are not getting enough sleep, you may be at risk for certain health conditions that directly impact fertility.
Lack of sleep can affect heart health, emotional well-being, and metabolic function.
Does Sleep Affect Male Fertility Too?
Female fertility is not only impacted by sleep but also the males. Sleep can affect their sex drive and overall health, similar to how it affects females. Another way sleep can affect men is their sperm health. It has been shown that men who do not get sufficient sleep have sperm with lower survival rates, lower motility, and increased ASA-positive production—anti-sperm antibodies.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
Now that you know how important sleep is for your fertility, are you wondering what the magic sleep number is?
Like most recommendations when it comes to health, it depends on your needs and how you feel throughout the day. However, both adult males and females should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.
What Are Ways To Improve Your Sleep?
Learning why sleep is essential and how much sleep you need is one thing, but if you struggle to fall asleep at night, you may be feeling a little anxious. Luckily, there are many ways to help you fall asleep at night and stay asleep.
Of course, there may be an off day here or there based on your current life stressors or events, but use these tools to help improve your sleep overall. Even small changes may help to promote better overall health and fertility.
If you are struggling to get the zzz’s you require, you should first limit your caffeine intake. Only you know your caffeine tolerance. Restricting your caffeine may mean cutting it out altogether, or it could mean keeping it to one cup of your caffeine of choice a day.
Drinking your caffeine in the morning and not close to bedtime is also important.
Another practice that may promote better sleep is meditation. If you struggle with turning off your thoughts at night, meditation may be able to help calm your mind and your body to fall into a deeper sleep. Meditation has also been shown to lower cortisol levels in the blood.
Exercise may also play a role in improving sleep quality. Exercise is not only good for sleep, but it is also good for overall health, reducing stress, and managing a healthy weight. If you are new to exercising, start slow.
You can do physical activities like walking, biking, pilates, or yoga.
Find an exercise program that brings you joy, so you are more likely to make it part of your daily routine. If you are struggling with sleep and getting enough exercise, you may want to consider when you are exercising. It was found that exercising in the morning was more beneficial to sleep than exercising in the afternoon or evening.
Regular Sleep Patterns
One way to improve your overall sleep is by creating a sleep schedule. Pick a time to go to bed each night and wake up each morning.
By sticking to this schedule, you train your body to keep to this schedule and get the sleep you need. It is thought that the optimal time to sleep is between 10 pm and 7 am. You don’t need to sleep the entire time between these hours, but try to get your seven to nine hours in this window, if possible.
Setting your sleep schedule may not happen over one night. It may take a few days or more to train your body. Start by making small changes to your evenings to prioritize your sleep schedule.
You can try dimming the lights closer to bed, turning off screens, reading a book, and other ways that help you relax.
In the mornings, set your alarm for the same time every day. Yes, that even includes the weekends. If waking up by 7 am is not working for you, set it a little later and slowly move it back by five minutes each day.
Soon your body may become so used to your new sleep schedule you may not even need an alarm clock.
When it comes to fertility, many factors can come into play. One way to increase your fertility is by prioritizing your sleep. Sleep affects many areas of the body, including hormones, ovulation, sex drive, and overall health. By taking steps to improve your sleep, you’ll be catching those seven to nine hours of sleep, which may help to improve your fertility.
Beginning your fertility journey can be overwhelming. For some, they may need to make simple lifestyle changes to improve their fertility. In comparison, others may need more interventions through their OBGYN.
Wherever you fall on the fertility spectrum, Expectful is here for you, helping to answer questions and provide scientific advice along the way.
The Meditation and Sleep App for Fertility, Pregnancy and Parenthood
We understand that growing your family while having a healthy and happy pregnancy and baby is probably a top priority for you right now.
We created Expectful to help you harness the power of your mind to have a healthy, happy pregnancy and baby.
All of our meditation content is based on interviews with many soon-to-be and new parents just like you, and is created with the help of licensed psychologists, hypnotherapists, and meditation experts. You can practice in just 5 minutes a day.