⅓ of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep. That statistic does not seem all that shocking, since most of us tend to put sleep last. Working late, binging that one last episode (confession: it’s never one), waking up early to workout, a sleepless child that demands our attention every hour—sleep often takes the backseat while we attend to all the things.
But adequate sleep is vital to our overall health, and especially our reproductive health. If you’re trying to conceive, it’s a good idea to make sleep a top priority.
How Fertility Affects Sleep
The connection between sleep and fertility is undeniable. The part of our brains that regulates our sleep-wake hormones also regulates the release of our reproductive hormones. Lack of sleep can affect the regulation of menstrual cycles and ovulation in women, as well as sperm production in men.
Women who get 6 hours or less sleep have been proven to have 20% less follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) than women who get a full 8 hours. FSH is one of the most important hormones in female and male reproductive health. It is responsible for ovarian function, including the maturation of eggs and ovulation. In men, FSH is key to testes function, including the production of sperm.
In addition, lack of sleep also means greater stress on the body. We’re more moody, emotional, wired, etc. That’s not the ideal state for conceiving.
10 Steps to Better Sleep (and Better Eggs!)
1. Limit the screen time. If you can’t get away from your screen because of work, try stepping away periodically for some screen-free breaks. At the very least, ditch the screen time after 8 PM when it is most likely to affect your nighttime sleep.
2. Go out for a morning walk. Sun exposure early in the morning helps set your body’s circadian rhythm, which is its natural daily cycle of alertness and fatigue. (This is also a great way to tackle jet lag, FYI.)
3. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This also helps set your body’s circadian rhythm, so that you fall asleep and stay asleep more easily. Ideally, your bedtime and wake time should be no earlier and no later than one hour off-schedule to see results.
4. Quit the caffeine. Caffeine gives us an adrenaline rush, only to crash later, which messes with our bodies’ circadian rhythms. If you’re thinking, “but I drink it first thing in the morning,” we hear you. (We’ve had that same desperate thought!) Even though it’s largely out of your system by bedtime, it continues to affect your body and your sleep. Caffeine can also affect your hormones, and it’s just not a good idea if you’re TTC.
5. Don’t fall asleep with the TV on. The light and sound from your TV can keep you from deeper, more restorative sleep. If you need some background noise, try bedtime stories from the Calm app, white noise, or nature sounds.
6. Rest counts too! Even 5 minutes of relaxation throughout the day can have a big impact on your overall health and your ability to sleep at night. Lay down if you can and indulge in a quick meditation, read a book, or do some gentle stretches.
7. Have a bedtime routine. It’s not only relaxing, but it also cues your body that sleep time is coming. A new skincare routine, writing a gratitude journal, meditating are just some ideas that might make you look forward to bedtime.
8. Dim lights before bed. Starting an hour before bedtime, dim the lights or use soft-lit lamps. Lights of any kind
9. Get some exercise. If you take just one piece of advice from our sleep tips, let it be this one! Getting enough exercise is one of the most effective ways to improve your sleep—and it’s also a great way to boost your fertility. Two birds, one stone.
10. Make your bedroom a sanctuary. Are your sheets, pillows, and mattress super comfortable? Are the colors in your room relaxing to you? Keeping your bedroom free of clutter, helps, too.We hope you enjoyed these simple tips to conceive. Sweet dreams!