Sleep & Its Effect On Your Reproductive Health

Today, 13 March 2020, is World Sleep Day. You may be asking yourself how sleep and fertility are connected? We felt it was essential for us to share with you how sleep can affect your reproductive health.

Sleep is an integral part of our everyday life and can have a significant impact on your overall health and psychological wellbeing. Most importantly, recent studies suggest that there is a link between sleep-quality and male/female fertility.

Our sleep-cycle or circadian rhythm is responsible, in part, for regulating our hormones, including those related to fertility health. 

Hormones responsible for your sleep-wake cycle, such as Melatonin and Cortisol, also trigger the release of reproductive hormones, such as Luteinizing Hormones (LH), Follicle Stimulating Hormones (FSH); both of which are responsible for ovulation. Therefore, a woman suffering from long term sleep disturbances may have a delay in ovulation, or in some cases, may be completely anovulatory. This, in turn, causes menstrual irregularities and will take you longer to conceive. One study found that women who routinely slept six hours or less a night have 20% less FSH than women who got a full eight hours.

Men are certainly not exempt from this fact. The same part of the brain that regulates the release of Melatonin and Cortisol in a woman is also responsible for the release of reproductive hormones in men, as these hormones are needed for the sperm maturation process. 

There, unfortunately, hasn’t been extensive research done on the effect of sleep disorders and their connection to male and female fertility. However, in one study, done in November 2017, research questioned whether non-apnoea sleep disorders (NASD) could increase the subsequent risk of female infertility. The study utilised patient data obtained from the Longitudinal Health Insurance database between 2000 and 2010 in Taiwan. The results quite frankly speak for themselves. 

The cohort of patients diagnosed with NASD was at a 3.718 – fold higher risk of suffering infertility compared to the control group (those without NASD). They further broke it down and went on to find that the age group most affected were women aged between 26 – 30, followed closely by those in the 31–35 year age bracket. The study’s overall conclusion found that NSAD patients are at a higher risk of developing fertility-related issues.

The lack of a good nights’ sleep not only affects our hormonal production, but many other issues can be affected, such as:

  • Mental Health: 

    • Being continuously tired, both physically and mentally, will start to have a negative impact on intimate relationships with your partner, which will cause fewer opportunities for pregnancy to occur

  • Risk of Disease: 

    • A lack of good-quality sleep is known to increase the risk of developing diseases such as Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease
    • Developing such illnesses can have a severe impact on your chances of falling pregnant

  • Nutrition and Weight Gain:

    • When you’re sleep-deprived, your body produces less Leptin, a hormone responsible for telling our brain when to stop eating. This facilitates a slowing down of our metabolism and will lead to weight gain
    • Weight gain further affects hormone production, which leads to hormonal imbalances in the body
    • Anovulation is a common side effect of obesity

So how can we improve our sleep patterns? 

These are our go-to tips to get better sleep which in turn will improve your reproductive health:

  • Keep Sleep, and Waking-Times Consistent

    • Consistent sleep-patterns allows your body to regulate hormone production

  • Avoid Shift-Work Where Possible: 

    • Although we understand that this isn’t always doable, when trying to conceive, avoiding odd hours and night-shifts is highly recommended
    • Studies have shown the negative impact that night shift work has on a woman’s fertility and ability to conceive

  • Stay Hydrated

    • If you don’t consume enough water, your cervical fluid may not be optimal. This is important to facilitate the transport of sperm through the vagina
    • Drinking enough water is vital to stimulate circulation and improve egg health
    • Your blood volume expands once you are pregnant, which means your body requires water to keep your hormonal balance in check

  • Get your Body Moving

    • Yoga has been shown to help significantly promote general relaxation, reduce anxiety and aid better sleeping patterns
    • Fertility Yoga (FY) can regulate hormonal imbalances, increase circulation and stimulation of both female and male reproductive organs. 
    • We work closely with Harriet Came from Bloom Yoga, who specialises in pre/post-natal yoga. She is also a doula and uses her birthing experiences to inform and influence her teaching, working to show how conscious breathing, specific yoga postures and techniques can assist with sleep, enhancing a pregnancy and help with birth and post-natal recovery

  • The key benefits of yoga for fertility are:
    • Reduces stress
    • Increases blood flow to the uterus
    • Strengthens the immune system
    • Improves ovarian function
    • Regulates hormonal imbalances
    • Increases IVF success rate

     

  • Practice Mindfulness & Meditation:

    • Practising mindfulness and the art of meditation can help to reduce levels of stress and anxiety and can promote conception
    • Mindfulness and meditation are two techniques that affect your mood, assist with relaxation/sleep and improves your mental wellbeing

  • Avoid Screen-Time before Bedtime:

    • The blue light emitted by screens on mobile phones, computers, tablets, and televisions restricts the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle or circadian rhythm
    • Reducing melatonin makes it more challenging to fall AND stay asleep
    • To ensure screen-time isn’t harming your sleep, give yourself at least 30 minutes before bed-time without ANY technology
    • An even better suggestion is to ensure your bedroom is an entirely technology-free zone

  • Avoid Stimulants such as Caffeine before Bed-Time:

    • Because caffeine is a stimulant, it should be avoided before bedtime
    • Caffeine can temporarily make us feel more alert by blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increasing adrenaline production, which affects the quality of your sleep
    • Stimulants before sleep can also cause insomnia

Conclusion:

Restful sleep is one of the most integral parts of our everyday life, and there is a definite link between sleep quality and its’ effect on our fertility. Good-quality sleep will not only boost your sex-drive, but it will also reduce inflammation, stimulate an optimal hormonal balance, and increase your happy hormones.

Get in touch to find out more about how we can assist you with any fertility concerns you may have.

Sources:

https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/41/1/zsx186/4608174

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30929112

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11937126/

https://www.sleep.org/articles/ways-technology-affects-sleep/

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/caffeine-and-sleep

 

 

 

 

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