There is no single thing that you can do that is guaranteed to help you conceive. However, research has consistently shown that there is one thing you can do to improve fertility. Even better, it’s “easy,” cheap, and some might even say enjoyable. Are you ready?
Get more sleep.
Getting enough sleep is one of the single best things you can do for your general health. Sleep can improve your mental health, physical health, quality of life, accident prevention. And your fertility.
Sleep and Fertility for Women
Lack of adequate sleep can affect a woman’s menstrual cycles, which in turn affects her fertility. Too little sleep leads to low leptin levels, a hormone that can impact ovulation.
Sleep can also improve a woman’s follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. Studies have found that FSH levels were 20% higher in women who got adequate sleep compared to sleep-deprived women. Most importantly, this improvement in FSH levels was across the board whatever the age, weight, or body mass index of the woman.
Too little sleep also increases the risk of obesity and obesity impacts fertility. The National Institute of Health reports that sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don’t get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up, and your level of leptin goes down, thus when you are sleep deprived, you tend to eat more.
Further, sleep affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) level. Sleep deficiency can cause a higher than normal blood sugar level, which may increase your risk for diabetes.
Sleep and Fertility Treatment
Research has also shown that women who get an adequate amount of sleep have significantly improved rates of success with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Fertility doctors (reproductive endocrinologists) routinely ask about their patients” sleep habit before IVF. Research has shown that patients who get enough sleep and keep to the same bedtimes and wake-up times will have higher success rates with IVF.
Sleep and Male Infertility
Sleep is essential not just for women’s fertility but for male fertility as well. Research looking at more than 700 men found that men who slept less than 6 or more than 9 hours a night had a 42 percent reduced probability of conception in any given month.
Researchers believe that the impact of sleep on male fertility is likely hormonal. Testosterone is crucial for reproduction, and sleep is vital for testosterone production. The majority of the daily testosterone released in men occurs during sleep. Numerous studies have shown that both the length and quality of sleep impacts testosterone levels in men.
Sleep Helps Us Cope with Stress
When you are trying to get pregnant, and it’s not happening, you have to make a decision, solve problems, and cope with stress. Do you know one of the best things you can do to help you make good decisions, solve problems, and cope with stress? Yep, you guessed it—sleep.
There are numerous studies reported by the National Institute of Health that have shown the impacts of sleep deprivation. These studies include evidence that people who do not get enough sleep may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression.
How Much Sleep Do We Need for Optimum Fertility
Perhaps surprisingly, more is not necessarily better when it comes to sleep. For both women and men, the ideal amount of sleep to optimize fertility appears to be between 7 and 8 hours.
A study of 656 women going through IVF found the participants who slept between seven and eight hours a night were about 25% more likely to become pregnant. This result is in comparison to the participants who slept either nine+ hours or six or fewer hours.
Although this study focused on women using IVF to get pregnant, it suggests that all women trying to conceive would benefit from having seven or eight hours sleep a night. The researchers suggest women should start working on improving their sleep at least three weeks before trying to conceive.