Influence of sleep on fertility
“Sleep well” – these words are repeated so often to one another, but how many of us really sleep well? We know that a good sleep is essential for a rested and healthy body and mind, but did you realise that it has an impact on fertility as well?
It is the same with both men and women. The hormones, melatonin and cortisol, which control sleeping and waking are regulated by the same part of the brain that signals the release of reproductive hormones daily. Hence, the amount of sleep you get may affect fertility as well. For a woman, lack of sufficient sleep may interfere with the release of LH (luteinizing hormone) which activates ovulation as part of controlling the menstrual cycle. Any irregularity in menstruation could result in a delay in conceiving. For men, the hormones that instigate maturity of sperm are linked with the amount of sleep they get.
This is the direct way in which lack of sleep affects fertility. However, there are fertility “side effects” to not having a sufficient amount of sleep. Here are a few:
Stress: Anxiety over infertility causes insomnia and this, in turn, increases stress and anxiety. This chain reaction has an adverse effect on the ability to conceive.
Moodiness: which could cause disharmony among partners. In turn, this could lead to decreasing sex drive and less opportunities for conceiving.
Risk of contracting diseases which affect fertility: Insufficient sleep could contribute to lowered immunity and higher susceptibility to contracting infections, higher chances of diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and cardiovascular (blood vessels and heart) problems which impact fertility.
Lowered sex drive: Insomnia could lead to lowered libido which naturally affects fertility.
So, how does one go about restoring a healthy sleep pattern? Some guidelines are given below:
Consistent sleep hours: Going to bed and getting up at the same times every day (even on weekends) helps. Avoid working odd hours or shifts, if possible.
Exercise: Try and get outdoors for at least 30 minutes a day. Just walking for this amount of time will help with better sleep.
Adjust lighting in the bedroom: Use lower wattage bulbs and dim lights so that the room is cool and comfortable. This helps with sleep.
Relax before bedtime: Taking a shower and then some light reading or listening to music could make you drowsy. Ensure that no TV, mobiles or laptops are used just before you go to bed. Avoid stimulants such as coffee or alcohol for a few hours before you intend to sleep.
How much sleep does one need? This, of course, will vary amongst individuals. However, the best benefits are derived from more than 6 hours of sleep but less than 9 hours. So, 7 – 8 hours a day would be beneficial.
Conclusion: If you find that your sleep improves but the chances of conceiving do not, even after medical advice, we would suggest that the male partner have a semen analysis and SDF test (Sperm DNA Fragmentation) conducted. We, at Andrology Center, offer these tests and provide standardized reports. Our laboratory is the only one in India authorised to provide the authentic SCSA (sperm chromatin structure assay) test, which gives accurate results due to the high level of technology and equipment used.