It comes as no secret that our sleep quality affects our emotional, mental, and physical health.
Due to the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, various people have to function with little or insufficient sleep. But how can the quality of your sleep affect your fertility?
Let's first take a look at what we understand by the term "sleep quality."
What is sleep quality?
When faced with this question, many would probably answer that sleep quality is the amount of time we spend sleeping (for example, 7-9 hours).
However, the duration of sleep time is known as "sleep quantity," which is just one aspect of sleep quality.
The term "sleep quality" does not have a clear-cut definition as it varies from person to person.
Sleep quality, however, can be summarized as how well a person sleeps at night to wake up feeling rested and rejuvenated.
Sleep quantity includes points of sleep initiation, sleep maintenance, and sleep quantity.
What does sleep have to do with fertility?
If you’re actively trying to conceive, studies show that losing sleep for one or even a few days won’t prevent you from getting pregnant. However, long-term lack of sleep may have an impact on your fertility and thus your ability to get pregnant. That’s because a significant lack of sleep can disrupt your reproductive hormones - specifically, melatonin, estrogen, and testosterone.
For example, a study conducted on 650 women showed that 53% of the women who got seven to eight hours of sleep were more likely to conceive than 46% of women who slept for four to six hours a day.
How does melatonin affect fertility for women?
Melatonin is a reproductive hormone that regulates your body’s sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm).
When your body has reduced levels of melatonin and estrogen hormones, this can cause menstrual irregularity, inadequate ovulation and prolongs the process of getting pregnant.
Research shows that melatonin levels also play an important role in the treatment of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
Melatonin is also key to protecting a woman’s eggs from harm when approaching the ovulation period, thus increasing the chances of pregnancy.
How does testosterone affect fertility for men?
In men, lack of sufficient sleep reduces the release of testosterone, the reproductive hormone essential for sperm production.
Low testosterone in men leads to a low sex drive and minimizes the chances of impregnating their partner. A factor in approximately 50% of men dealing with infertility is a low sperm count.
How to increase your melatonin and testosterone reproductive hormones
Schedule a regular sleep-wake cycle to gain seven to eight hours of sleep at night. In women, the release of melatonin is enhanced in the dark when you are more likely to be asleep.
Try and gain uninterrupted quality sleep. Deep sleep will help your body relax and enhance the stimulation of melatonin production.
Avoid caffeinated drinks at least four to six hours before bedtime. Caffeinated drinks take hours to wean off your body and affect your quality of sleep.
Invest in a high-quality mattress to increase your sleep quality.
Exercise regularly to reduce stress hormones and increase your ability to fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. A word of caution: avoid vigorous workouts at least 90 minutes before going to bed, as they can keep you awake. Research shows that men who exercise regularly have higher testosterone levels and better semen quality than those who do not.
Take antioxidant supplements. There is evidence that indicates that taking antioxidant supplements like vitamin C may improve semen quality. PubMed published a study that established that men who took 1,000-mg vitamin C supplements for approximately two months increased their sperm motility by 92% and their sperm count by more than 100%.
The simple factor that improves your chances of conceiving, is to have a good quality of uninterrupted seven to eight hours of sleep.
Fertility is a concern for both men and women, especially for those wishing to conceive. Long-term lack of sleep produces a higher level of stress hormones known to hinder a healthy fertility cycle.
Visit a health professional for more practical guidance best suited to you and your partner's chances of conceiving.
Our guest blogger; Rebecca Alston
I am Rebecca Alston and I am a 30 something mother, full-time wife, and a foodie! I enjoy writing, decorating, making cookies, playing with my girls, decorating the house and traveling green! Mamas Like Me, my personal blog, is made with love.