Sleep, the most basic of biological functions, acts as the body’s healer, rejuvenator, and rebuilder. It affects many of the factors that either help or interfere with fertility. While getting better sleep isn’t a catch-all solution, it can improve the health of the reproductive organs and encourage the biological conditions that contribute to fertility.
Sleep Maintains Overall (and Reproductive) Health
Environmental, physical, and emotional stressors take their toll on the body. It’s while you sleep that the body recovers from these stressors. For example, it’s during sleep that the body releases peak amounts of the human growth hormone that stimulates muscle recovery. Sleep provides time for all the body’s major organs and systems, including the reproductive system, to maintain proper health.
Sleep Encourages Emotional Well-Being
Sleep also influences psychological wellness such as stress and anxiety levels. A 2011 study found that women with increased stress indicators in their saliva were significantly less likely to conceive during their most fertile conception window. Sleep has a powerful impact on stress.
Without enough sleep, the brain’s emotional center goes into a hyper response mode when it experiences negative situations, feelings, and thoughts. Normally, the brain’s logic center keeps these emotions in check, but this part of the brain reduces its activity without enough rest. Consequently, stress levels rise.
Sleep becomes a full partner in managing both the normal stress of life and the high-stress environment for those facing infertility.
Sleep Maintain Healthy Weight
Weight is another common factor in infertility that can be affected by sleep. Both men and women face lower fertility rates if they are overweight. Sleep deprivation causes the body to release higher levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and lower levels of the satiety hormone leptin. There’s an increase in hunger yet no corresponding need for the extra calories.
Lack of sleep also magnifies food cravings by increasing the rewards the brain receives from high fat, sugary foods. You can find yourself choosing foods with 50 percent more calories and twice the fat if you’re consistently sleep deprived. The resulting weight gain can contribute to fertility problems.
How to Increase the Quality and Length of Your Sleep
The quality and length of your sleep cycle in part depends on your habits and behaviors. Slight alterations to your daily routine and a commitment to consistency can work wonders for improving your sleep along with:
- Improved Sleep Conditions: The body needs to be comfortable and relaxed for successful sleep. A mattress that supports your weight and sleep style along with a bedroom kept between 60 to 68 degrees provide optimal conditions. The bedroom should also be completely dark and quiet.
- Set a Bedtime: The brain needs predictability to correctly time the release of sleep hormones. A regular bedtime also trains your body how to respond to those hormones so you can fall asleep faster.
- Prepare Your Body with a Bedtime Routine: A bedtime routine prepares the mind and body for what is to come. When performed at the same time and in the same order each day, it triggers the sleep cycle at a consistent time each day.
Sleep is part of a healthy lifestyle and allows the body to function as it should. Adequate rest may not solve all fertility issues, but it creates the conditions in which you have the best chance of conceiving. Better sleep doesn’t come all at once, but with effort, you can make improvements that help your body feel and function at its best.