Over 30 percent of Americans struggle with lack of sleep every year, and it only gets worse for patients dealing with the stress of undergoing fertility treatments. The anxiety, stress, and frustration associated with infertility can negatively impact the quantity and quality of sleep couples struggling with the diagnosis are able to get each night. But for couples trying to get pregnant, the lack of sleep could actually be sabotaging their efforts.
Studies have shown that there is a link between a lack of quality sleep and difficulty conceiving, but how exactly is it impacting your ability to achieve and carry a pregnancy? The experts of UNC Fertility discuss the link between poor sleeping habits and infertility – and what you can do about it.
A Sleepless Night’s Impact
It’s well known that a lack of sleep negatively impacts your mood and productivity, but it can also impact the hormones a woman secretes throughout her cycle. Studies have shown that getting enough quality sleep has a positive effect on the reproductive hormones a woman produces, including progesterone, estrogen, Leptin, and Follicle-Stimulating Hormones (FSH).
Making sure you get enough quality sleep is even more important if you’re hoping to achieve a pregnancy using IVF. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s study, women with low quality sleep had lower rates of fertility than those getting their seven to eight hours each night.
The Impact of Light Pollution
So you’re getting your recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night, but is that enough? Maybe not. Things like the blue light emitted from phones, computers, and other electronics can interfere with your sleep-wake cycle, meaning that even if you’re getting enough sleep, it’s not as restorative as it should be.
More than just impacting the quality of your sleep, your gadgets can also be impacting your egg quality. The blue light from your electronics suppress melatonin, a key hormone that both helps you sleep and protects your eggs when they are close to ovulation. Without appropriate melatonin production, the viability of your eggs can decrease.
Are You Working the Infertility Shift?
Women who work the night shift often have a harder time getting pregnant than those who work the day shift. For women, working the night shift can impact their circadian rhythm, resulting in hormonal imbalances, lower estrogen levels, and irregular menstrual cycles. These factors can all make it more difficult to both achieve a pregnancy, and carry a pregnancy to term.
What You Can Do
While most women have at least one of these sleep-damaging habits, most are relatively easy to fix. In order to improve sleep quality and increase their chances of getting pregnant, women should:
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Too few or too many hours can negatively affect fertility.
- Unplug before bed. Put away computers, phones, tablets, and other electronics at least an hour before bedtime.
- Try changing your schedule. If you work swing shifts or night shifts, see if you can change your work schedule. If this isn’t possible, ask your employer if it would be possible to adjust the lighting in your workspace.
Getting enough high quality sleep is good for your general health as well as your fertility. While getting enough sleep can be difficult for couples struggling to conceive, getting in those eight hours each night can help improve your chances of achieving a pregnancy and building the family of your dreams.