When you imagine all the hoops you must jump through on any given day—from work-related tasks to shopping for groceries and taking care of your fitness—you rarely think of the sleep impact on fertility. While any rest is better than staying awake for an extended period, poor-quality slumber can take a toll on our ability to conceive a child.
Whether you’re a woman who wants to fill a motherly role or a father that wants to grow his family, sleep is vital for your success. While it may sound like a cliche, here’s why you need to take rest and recovery seriously when trying to conceive.
Sleep Impact on Fertility and Hormone Regulation
The process of becoming pregnant is a delicate dance where all our body’s mechanisms come together to form a new life. When a woman’s body is in an optimal state, becoming pregnant is much easier than when she’s unhealthy. While the science shows women are more primed for pregnancy during their ovulation window, hormonal regulation must be adequate to take advantage of fertility.
When we ignore sleep and develop poor resting habits, our body produces a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol, in general terms, is responsible for immune function and fighting off unwanted variables that enter our body.
However, prolonged cortisol exposure can negatively influence fertility by lowering the amount of estrogen, DHEA and progesterone in a woman’s system. When this occurs, getting pregnant becomes an impossibility.
Although this may seem detrimental, excessive cortisol in the body can be alleviated in several ways. Here are some tips and tricks that may help you improve sleep impact on fertility:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
- Get exercise, but avoid overworking your muscles
- Consume cortisol-stabilizing foods such as dark chocolate, green tea, bananas and yogurt
- Get massages
- Reduce caffeine intake
- Alleviate stress from external sources such as work, relationships and social life
- Spend time with friends who make you laugh
The Male Role
While pregnancy may seem like a topic reserved for females, men have to take sleep impact on fertility seriously if they want to improve their odds of growing their family.
New data has shown that men who sleep less than six hours per night reduce their odds of impregnating their partner by over 30%.
Males who tend to sleep less and lead chaotic lives have a lower sperm count than their well-rested counterparts. For male readers, the first step you can take to thwart off this risk is to take your sleep seriously. While it may prove challenging to get a full night of slumber, think of the family you want in the not-so-far-off future.
Now that you understand the role of sleep impact on fertility, it’s important to explore ways in which to reduce stress and anxiety from your waking and productive hours.
If you want to start a family in the upcoming months, you must develop the habit of leaving work at the office and focusing on joy-evoking activities. The largest contributor to anxiety and cortisol elevation comes from bringing work-related baggage into your home life.
Ask yourself this question: Have you, at some point in the past, allowed a problem in the office to ruin your mood when you arrive home? While this type of behavior happens from time to time, office drama can lead to hormone instability within the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. When this mechanism becomes disturbed, forming a new life in the womb is challenging to manage. Here are some tips to help you lead a productive and stress-free lifestyle:
- Identify stress-inducing triggers in your life and do your best to eliminate exposure to these variables.
- Make an effort to remove toxic individuals and situations from your life.
- Keep your work-related materials and areas separate from your leisure-time activities and tools.
- Filter your tasks and commitments into “important” and “trivial” sections.
- Realize that sleep impact on fertility is a real thing. Turn off your phones and social media notifications when you’re unwinding for the night.