Getting Enough Sleep

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The Impact of Lack of Sleep on Conception

Many lifestyle factors contribute to infertility including lack of sleep and high stress levels. Lack of sleep has this impact by affecting levels of ovulation-regulating hormones.

The quantity and quality of sleep affects women’s health, mood, hormones and fertility. Getting enough sleep is important when conceiving a baby. Enough sleep varies from one person to another depending on individual needs for example level of activity, but it is ideally between 7- 9 hours daily.

Good sleep is an essential factor for the production of many hormones. Many studies have demonstrated low melatonin and serotonin levels in women who do not have an enough sleep. Low levels of these two hormones will lead to a shorter luteal phase (time between ovulation and menstruation) and consequently a lower chance of conceiving. 

Lack of sleep also impedes the ability to regulate adrenaline, cortisol and insulin, making conception very difficult. 

The Benefits of Sleep:

Our bodies repair cells and regulate hormones, among many other processes during sleep. 

One of the most important hormones for conception is leptin, which is the basic link between sleep and fertility. Leptin affects ovulation, and women need adequate sleep for proper leptin production. When leptin production is compromised, menstrual cycles are disrupted.

Sleep affects fertility hormones including progesterone, estrogen, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).

Sleep is a preventative for the moody blues and stress that is not good for fertility

It is a cure for Seasonal Affective Depression (SAD) that is triggered by a seasonal reduction of bright sunlight in certain areas of the globe. For some people, this lack of sunlight that often happens during winter can affect both moods and sleep habits.

Improving Sleeping Habits:

It is very important for women who want to conceive to look for the causes of not getting an enough good sleep and take steps to achieve proper restorative sleep.

Staying Up Late:

Insomnia, or sleeplessness, as Wikipedia defines it, is a sleep disorder in which there is an inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep as long as desired. If this happens every night, it is insomnia. However, some do choose to stay up of their own free will. Gradual change is the solution, or asking for medical help.

Drinking Coffee:

Caffeine may increase the risk of a miscarriage, so it is something that women should cut back on during pregnancy and even before conception.  It is not necessary to quit entirely but to reduce daily consumption to within safe limits (your doctor can advise).If caffeine consumption leads to poor sleep then it makes sense to replace caffeinated drinks with herbal teas or decaffeinated coffee is a good idea.

Exercise

Exercise is another important factor in getting a good night’s sleep.  Exercise will tire the body and relax the mind by releasing endorphins (feel good hormones) which in turn help the body to relax into an easier and deeper sleep. 

Tips for Getting A Good Sleep:

  • Make a sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
  • Start a relaxing bedtime routine. Take a warm bath for example.
  • Try to drink a cup of relaxing herbal tea, a glass of warm milk or have a light snack an hour or two before bedtime. 
  • Do not have a heavy meal too close to bedtime.
  • If you do nap, keep it to twenty minutes – enough to rejuvenate you but not enough to interfere with night time sleep
  • Exercise daily, but not too close to bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes or any medications that may interfere with sleep.
  • If you are used to a late bed time try bringing it forward little by little ten minutes at a time. Be patient it takes time to settle into a new habit but it is worth it for your wellbeing.
  • Avoid television or screens in the bedroom but choose to read instead.

If you find that you cannot settle into a good sleep routine and that lack of sleep is affecting your wellbeing, then speak to your health care professional who will be able to offer further advice.