Why Sleep Matters for Your Fertility

We all know that sleep plays a huge role in our lives, affecting our mood, outlook and health. Getting a good night’s sleep helps refresh and restore our organ systems and also helps us regulate important hormones in our body. In this piece, Caitlin Townsend shares more about why sleep matters when it comes to your fertility.

We all know what it feels like to experience a bad night’s sleep. You are probably much crankier and it can take forever for your brain to wake up and get started. In fact, after only one night of poor sleep, testosterone dramatically decreases and after 3 nights with no sleep? Hallucination sets in.

 

The shorter you sleep, the shorter your life.

According to leading sleep expert and author of Why We Sleep, Mathew Walker, “The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life.” When I mentioned this little fact to my husband, he laughed and said, “Looks like I better live it up now because I won’t be here long.” He would be lumped into the one in three adults not getting enough sleep.

 

The impact that sleep has on our health is absolutely critical.

Sleep is when the body heals and when the immune system is most active. This is why when we get sick, we can often sleep for days. Our body is shutting us down so that it can concentrate on healing. When you are sick you don’t feel like eating, this is so digestion does not have to work so hard and your body can rest and prioritize healing.

 

Sleep deprivation affects our minds and bodies.

Not only does lack of sleep create cognitive brain damage that affects our decision making and learning capabilities it also affects our physical body making us more prone to accidents, depression, weight gain, cardiovascular disease, dementia and Type 2 Diabetes.

 

Does sleep impact our fertility?

After delving deep into the science behind sleep, the answer is a resounding yes! But, don’t worry, there are many ways you can improve your sleep and enhance your fertility. From a fertility standpoint, poor quality and quantity sleep throws off our body’s natural circadian rhythm and raises our stress hormone, cortisol. When these rhythms and hormones are out of balance this creates a trickle down effect on our blood sugar and other sex hormones. Poor sleep can even disrupt a woman’s menstrual cycles as well as cause them to go missing.

 

What is REM?

There are many ways to increase your sleep, which should be ideally between 7-9 hours of quality sleep. If you are waking up in the middle of the night, this could be your body’s way of saying there is a blood sugar dysregulation (or else stop drinking water right before bed).

Alcohol also plays a major effect on sleep, as well as fertility. Even though alcohol is a sedative, and perhaps relaxes you before bed, it also contains chemicals and sugar that will disrupt your sleep in the middle of the night, leading to less quality sleep and less cycles of REM. These REM cycles are so important for us. REM cycles are more than just dreaming, this is when the brain categorizes all of the thoughts that went on during the day. When our REM cycle is disturbed even by just 1% it increases the risk for dementia by almost ten percent.

Caffeine also plays a huge role in affecting our sleep as it can take 10 hours for it to completely leave the body. Having that cup of espresso after dinner might not be the wisest choice if you want to get some good shut eye.

 

Improving your sleep hygiene.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, as sleep can be remedied! Take a look at your sleep hygiene.

  • Put down the screens. Do you have a TV in your bedroom or are you constantly scrolling through your phone while in bed? Try putting away all screens and turn off the TV at least one hour before bed.

  • Use blue blocker glasses after the sun goes down. This way you’re not exposed to the type of light seen during the day, which will help to reset your circadian rhythm.

  • Read a book before bed or try journaling. Making a gratitude list is also helpful to relax and get you into a calm state.

  • Don’t have coffee after 10am. This way you have a greater chance of getting rid of the excess caffeine.

  • Cut out the alcohol. Try a mocktail instead.

  • Have a relaxing epsom bath. Be sure to add at least 2 cups which contains magnesium that helps to relax your muscles.

  • Use lavender. Spray your pillows with a lavender essential oil spray or rub the E.O into the palm of your hands. Lavender has been shown to ease tension and help you relax

  • Take deep breaths. If you wake in the middle of the night, practice deep breathing and try to clear your mind. Don’t invite any worries or thoughts for the next day. Try to let those thoughts go.

  • Be wary of sleep supplements. Don’t take sleep supplements as this only puts a band aid on the problem and does not get to the root cause of why you are not sleeping well.

  • Go outside early. It’s important to reset your circadian rhythm so go outside early in the morning when you wake up and get that morning light.

  • Go to bed at the same time and wake at the same time. Set an alarm to go to bed!

     

When you start to get good quality and quantity sleep, so many other things will be able to reset and get back into balance, such as your hormones, stress levels and blood sugar. So try out some of these tips tonight and sleep well!

Caitlin Townsend is a Functional Nutritional Therapist and Fertility Coach who helps women struggling to conceive get pregnant naturally. She is on a mission to create vibrant mamas and healthy babies. Caitlin's own struggles with unexplained infertility, led her to go back to school and find the answers she so desperately needed to heal her body. She is also the Founder of The Fix Your Fertility Program.

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