It’s no secret that a good night’s sleep is vital for your health, but many people aren’t aware of how sleep can impact your fertility. Between work, family, and personal obligations, getting enough quality shut-eye is difficult for over 30 percent of Americans. For couples struggling to conceive, the stress of undergoing fertility treatments can make getting enough sleep even more difficult.
Couples where one or both partners are sleep-deprived experience infertility and may have trouble conceiving. According to the CDC, about 12 percent of women (15–44 years of age) in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. At the same time, the National Sleep Foundation reports that most women who fall into this demographic get just more than six hours of sleep per night, which is two fewer hours than is recommended for conception. A study on sleep issues found that women who have insomnia are four times more likely to struggle with fertility than their well-rested sisters. That’s a whopping 400% increase!
Why does sleep have such a significant impact on female fertility?
The answer is that sleep plays a major role in every stage of the fertility process, from menstruation to conception to birth. This means that at each step, poor sleep can serve as a roadblock.
Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on women’s (and men’s) hormones. For women trying to conceive, getting enough quality sleep positively affects the hormones you produce during your cycle. Getting in your recommended 7-8 hours each night can improve your levels of reproductive hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, leptin, and Follicle-Stimulating Hormones (FSH). Leptin, in particular, regulates ovulation, which occurs mainly between midnight and 4 a.m.
FSH is one of the most critical hormones in conceiving and is one of the first things doctors test for when fertility issues arise. FSH’s job is to trigger ovulation in women as part of regulating your menstrual cycle. It prepares the ovaries for the release of an egg: no FSH, no egg, simple as that.
One study found that women who routinely slept six hours or less a night have 20% less FSH than women who got a full 8 hours of sleep times. Given how vital FSH is for fertility, it is easy to see how skipping just a few hours of sleep a night can quickly spiral into problems conceiving.
For women undergoing IVF, getting enough quality sleep is even more vital. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s study, women with better quality sleep had higher fertility rates (65.1%) than those getting poor rest (26.8%). If you’re undergoing IVF, make sure to get 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night to improve your response to fertility treatments and increase your chances of probability of conception.
Not getting enough sleep or having a sleep disturbance is detrimental to your emotional health and mood. If you’re irritable and tired for an extended time, it can make conflict with a partner more likely, fostering an emotional state that heightens stress, reduces intimacy, and detracts from a satisfying sex life. In fact, poor sleep increases the production of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, which has been found to impact sex drive in both men and women negatively, thus affecting female infertility and menstrual irregularities.
Another that affects sex drive in men is testosterone, a hormone that plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy libido. Generally speaking, your testosterone levels increase as you sleep and decrease the longer you are awake. The highest levels of testosterone production occur during the REM stage of sleep. As a result, it doesn’t take long for poor sleep quality to cause lower testosterone levels.
In fact, a study found that daily testosterone production dropped by 10%-15% after a week of participants being restricted to five hours of sleep each night. The study concluded that these findings resulted from participants being unable to stay in a deep sleep long enough to receive the natural benefits that come with it. A lack of sleep and disrupted sleep has also been linked to a higher risk of erectile dysfunction.
For women, a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that women who slept more were more likely to see an increase in their sex drive by 14 percent. The study also found that women who chronically lack sleep experience poorer vaginal arousal during sex than those who get enough shut-eye each night.
Sleep quality without sleep disturbance is one of the most important factors in maintaining sperm health—getting 7–8 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep is key. According to a 2017 study on sleep quality in relation to sperm count and sperm quality, sleep deprivation lowers sperm count in men. Researchers found that short sleep durations correlated with poor sperm health in terms of motility (movement), survival rate, and even count. Of the study’s 953 subjects, those who had adequate sleep had better sperm quality than those who were sleep-deprived.
This occurs because most reproductive hormone secretion is dictated by the circadian clock, your body’s natural cycle. If your sleep cycle is interrupted, your body won’t release as many reproductive hormones, creating hormonal imbalances affecting overall fertility.
Luckily, you can improve your sleep quality and increase your chances of conceiving by taking a few simple steps:
- Make the bedroom inviting by setting a comfortable temperature, using dim and warm lighting, ensuring a pleasant smell, and having a supportive and optimal mattress for sleep and sex.
- Create a bedtime routine that will get your mind ready for sleep and maintain a sleep schedule that aims for about 7.5 hours of sleep each night.
- Get the proper exercise and movement during the day.
- Avoid blue light emitted by electronic screens up to an hour before bedtime.
- Learn relaxation techniques and incorporate them into the nightly routine to reduce your stress levels.
By creating a comfortable sleep environment and making sure you spend enough time in bed, you give yourself a better chance of conceiving. If you’re still uncertain on the best mattress, be sure to look at the trial times and warranties. With better sleep quality, your reproductive hormones will be balanced, you’ll have a healthier sex drive, and you’ll be less stressed and moody. At No Bull Mattress, we want to help you in your fertility journey in every way possible; that’s why we provide an extensive range of accessories and mattresses that can assist with your sleeping needs.