Chances are you’ve experienced the downsides of lack of sleep a few times in your life.
BUT – IS IT REALLY THAT IMPORTANT?
Yes! Sleep is essential. Without enough sleep, the brain can’t function properly. This is the time for the body and mind to reset. Not having enough sleep can have serious effects on both your physical and mental health.
Poor sleep can deplete energy, lower productivity, and increase the chance for mood swings. Sleep deficiency has also been linked to a higher risk of certain diseases or medical conditions such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 Diabetes and more.
Work schedules, day-to-day stressors, a poor sleep environment, and medical conditions are just a few things that can interfere with good quality sleep.
WHAT IS "HEALTHY " SLEEP?
As with most things in life, the key to sleep is balance. The National Sleep Foundation recommends the average person should aim for at least seven hours and no more than nine hours a night. Healthy sleep means adequate duration, good quality, and appropriate timing of sleep. This means sleeping for 3 hours, then up for an hour, back to sleep for 2 hours, up for 30 minutes, and so on, is not the ideal way to achieve 7 hours of good quality sleep.
SO, WHY IS SLEEP IMPORTANT FOR FERTILITY?
Lack of sleep is detrimental to your overall health and wellness in ways that might not seem to be directly connected to fertility, but it can all take a toll. Keeping in mind that sleep deprivation increases the risk of other health conditions such as obesity and diabetes, these conditions alone can make getting pregnant more difficult. This is the time when hormones reset, brain chemistry normalizes, and reproductive hormones reach a baseline level.
The most significant factor that sleep can affect in relation to fertility is hormone production. The same part of the brain that is responsible for regulating sleep-wake hormones like melatonin and cortisol also regulates reproductive hormones. Sleep deprivation can cause the body to produce more stress hormones, which throw off levels of estrogen, testosterone, and other reproductive hormones.
Not getting enough sleep is also detrimental to your emotional health and mood. The hormonal imbalance can decrease libido and cause moodiness, which certainly isn’t helpful to the situation. If you’re tired and irritable for an extended time, it may cause problems with your partner or affect your sexual intimacy. And unless you’re pursuing fertility treatment, a lack of sexual intimacy is a huge barrier to conception.
And because optimal health and wellness are often the building blocks of any treatment plan for health issues, improving things like sleep will give any fertility treatments you’re undergoing the best chance of working.
TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR ZZZ’s
Those of us who don’t receive a sufficient amount of sleep each night can implement some positive lifestyle and sleep habits in order to get in their 7 – 9. Start small to see lasting benefits, you don't have to change everything at once. Here are some tips to help boost your sleep quality….
· Avoid nicotine, caffeine, and large meals several hours before bedtime. A lighter snack is okay depending on nutritional content (ie. avoid sugar too!).
· Keep naps short if you partake, aiming for 20 – 30 minutes. Longer naps can make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
· We are creatures of habit so it is important to establish a routine with a realistic bedtime, and stick to it every night – including the weekends if possible.
· Keep your room cool with low levels of light. Darkness is key, it helps your body naturally produce melatonin which tells your body it is time to fall asleep.
· Your bedroom should be a sanctuary. Invest in a good mattress, sheets, and pillows you love, declutter, get blackout curtains or use a sleep mask.
· Stop using electronics 60 minutes before bed. I know, this is a tough one – but, the light from these devices can stimulate your brain and keep you from falling asleep. Put down the phone...Your bed is for 2 things – sleep and...sex, not tv or scrolling on social media.
While positive lifestyle habits can help improve sleep quality, seek medical assistance if you are concerned you may be suffering from a sleep disorder.
It is too easy to ignore good sleep, but now is the time to focus on improving the quality of your zzz’s for a simple way to boost your natural fertility and gain other health benefits.
For more support, learn about Embrace Fertility's natural Fertility Enhancing Program.