Hi sleep. Bye Infertility.
The sleeping fertility giant within you may just be waiting to awaken. Ironic then, to tell you, to close the light, shut your eyes and doze off. But believe you me, by doing so, you're on your way to unfolding the fertility layers within you one by one. Read on to know more.
When you’re trying to get pregnant, bleary-eyed mothers and fathers will give you a deer in the headlights look as they encourage you to, “Savor every moment of sleep that you can because it could be your last…” What they don’t realize is that those precious moments of sleep they’re recommending are more important than we ever realized when it comes to your ability to become a parent in the first place. Recent research is demonstrating a rather clear connection between sleep deprivation and infertility. It looks like one of the best things you can do for your mental, emotional and physical well-being – including your fertility prospects – is to get a good night’s sleep.
Yes you read that right! Getting a Sound Sleep can boost your pregnancy chances
Here’s the reality: without the advent of electricity and round-the-clock light, we humans were fairly solar powered creatures. We got up with the sun and went to bed within a short time after it set. Even candle and lamp light was dim enough (and expensive enough!) that we used it rather sparingly. Our body’s hormone levels have responded to this established pattern of light and dark in a very complex way – relying on sleeping and waking cycles to establish hormonal balance. The studies that were reviewed and commented on by the scientific journal, Fertility and Sterility, have elicited shocking information about light pollution, sleep deprivation and other sleep-related factors that seem to affect fertility. Here are some of the things we are coming to realize:
Air contamination affects egg production
When the sun goes down, or the lights go off, and you head to dreamland, your body produces melatonin – a hormone that regulates sleeping and waking cycles. Here’s the caveat though, melatonin is also responsible for protecting eggs when they are close to ovulation, guarding against free-radicals and other degenerative entities. If you are someone who sleeps with lights on, who checks their cell phone every time it buzzes, or has the TV on non-stop, your body’s melatonin cycles get all screwed up. This, in turn, can prevent your eggs from getting the protection they need, resulting in damaged eggs that are then rejected by the body or can wind up being the cause of a miscarriage. Please Note: Taking OTC melatonin-supplements are not the answer. Speak with your doctor before adding any supplement to your diet. Plus, some research indicates that melatonin supplements may be harmful to fetal development.
Night job workers report more infertility incidences
Do you work the “infertility shift”?
If you work the night shift, you may have a much harder time getting pregnant. Findings show that night shift workers have irregular menstrual cycles that can cause problems with conception.
Why does this happen? Our bodies are run by an internal clock called the circadian rhythm. Regular patterns of light and dark help to keep our circadian rhythm functioning normally.
Night shift workers may run into problems with their circadian rhythm.
Given the above information, it’s not surprising that shift workers have higher numbers of reproductive problems, including issues with infertility. Women who work night shifts suffer more frequently with hormonal imbalances, lower estrogen levels, difficulty conceiving and higher miscarriage rates than their counterparts who work hours that are more normal.
To combat this, some employers are altering their nighttime lighting accordingly. However, if you have struggled to conceive and you work night or swing shifts, it is in your best interest to discuss this research with your employer and make adjustments to your schedule if at all possible.
Lack of Sleep has a negative influence on FSH levels
If you are embarking down the Assisted Reproductive Technology road, you know all about FSH levels. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) controls the menstrual cycle and (ideally) is at its highest levels right before a woman ovulates.
Studies that track women’s sleeping habits have drawn a correlation between the average hours a woman sleeps each night and her FSH levels.
Women who average a healthy amount of sleep each night (about 7 – 9 hours) had FSH levels as much as 20% higher than women who averaged six or fewer hours per night. This relationship existed regardless of the women’s ages or BMI.
Don’t let something as simple as an affinity for late night TV or a potentially changeable work schedule prevent you from having the pregnancy you want. Make the necessary changes to establish a healthy sleep pattern and get your circadian – and hormonal – rhythm back on track
Sound sleep: A treat for your overall body
While we sleep, our bodies are busy repairing cells and regulating our hormones, among many other processes. One special hormone, leptin, is a key 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.
Dr. Tracy Latz, a psychiatrist in North Carolina, tells that insomnia affects our hormones and potentially causes premature aging.
Sleep affects fertility hormones including progesterone, estrogen, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
Good Night's Sleep, the best stress buster
While it’s speculated that stress does not cause infertility, an infertility diagnosis can create tremendous stress that affects mood, sleep, and fertility.
When people are under chronic stress, their sleep habits are affected. Feelings of anxiety and depression can arise. Studies show that fertility patients diagnosed with anxiety and depression have lower rates of in vitro fertilization (IVF) success.
Dr. Latz says that cortisol levels are often affected by the stress of our daily hectic lives. High cortisol levels prevent us from relaxing and getting quality sleep.
To combat the negative effects of cortisol and stress, try acupuncture, yoga and/or psychotherapy. These interventions are aimed at reducing stress and have been shown to increase rates of conception among infertility patients.
Dear Sunshine, you need sunshine
Seasonal Affective Depression (SAD) is a form of depression 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.
To counteract SAD, many sleep doctors recommend daily sunlight exposure. Sleep doctors claim that one hour of daily sunlight, even received in small segments each day, can help to regulate the body’s circadian rhythms for a good night’s sleep.
Bright light may also affect fertility. According to Dr. Daniel Kripke, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Diego, it has been shown that bright light corrects menstrual irregularities. “Bright light may promote ovulation, although therapeutic use of bright light to restore fertility is still under investigation.”
Latz tells Attain Fertility that a structure in the brain called the pineal gland is instrumental in regulating hormonal balances in our body based on our length of exposure to daylight.
“Modern man has a more chaotic light exposure with the advent of technology such as the electric light bulb, computers, video games and television,” says Latz.
Exposure to artificial light can inhibit good sleep. To reduce the negative health effects of artificial lights in your environment, turn off the TV and computer several hours before bed, and reduce the glare of electronic equipment in your bedroom at night, including your alarm clock.