“Good morning, my love.  How did you sleep?”

That’s typically the first question that my boyfriend asks me in the morning and my answers vary between . . .

“Alright, I guess.” 

“Ufff. I only got a few hours.”

Or, “Who needs sleep?”

And the answer to that last question is, WE ALL NEED SLEEP!  This is even more true, however, if you and your partner are trying to conceive.

Women with sleep disorders are 3x more likely to experience infertility.

This statistic might seem a little extreme, but once you know more about sleep and its role in cellular repair and hormonal balance (not to mention sex drive) it all makes sense.

Sleep is critical for hormonal balance and cell repair.  

Your hormones might not be the last thing on your mind before your head hits the pillow, but the truth is that all of the major hormones involved in fertility and conception are affected by the duration and the quality of your sleep each night.  

That’s right. FSH (Follicular Stimulating Hormone), LH (Luteinizing Hormone), estrogen, and progesterone are all part of this list.  And speaking of progesterone, many women over 35 experience more interruptions in their sleep anyway because progesterone is on the decline.

Another hormone that’s not talked about as much, but that is just as important is leptin.  You may have heard of leptin as the “I’m full” hormone as it relates to appetite control, but we now know that leptin plays an important role in the implantation of the embryo.  Leptin receptors in the uterine lining need to be functioning optimally for the embryo to implant.  Leptin has also been associated with egg quality and IVF success rates and is also one of the first hormones to be thrown off when we don’t get at least seven hours of shut-eye.

Not getting enough sleep has also been linked to chronic health conditions like high blood pressure, irregular menstrual cycles, thyroid issues, depression, and anxiety.  

Not tonight, babe.

And if that weren’t enough, our libido also takes a direct hit! Besides the toll that lack of sleep takes on your sex hormones, like estrogen and testosterone, in favor of your stress hormones, like cortisol, you are less likely to be in the mood if you are exhausted.  This may seem basic but being too tired for some sexual healing is the most common reason most couples lose interest in having sex (at least according to sex therapists).

What’s a sleep-deprived girl to do?

If you are like the average adult these days and clock in fewer than seven hours of sleep every night, there are a few key things that you can do to improve your sleep health.

Go to bed and wake up at the same time EVERY DAY.  In terms of our hormones, they respond best to a regular routine, so make sure to be consistent with your bedtime.

Sleep in total darkness.  No night lights, no light streaming in through your bedroom blinds, just darkness.  Not sleeping in the dark interferes with our production of melatonin which is bad news for our fertility.  Melatonin is an antioxidant that protects eggs from free radicals and is important for good quality eggs as well as a good ovarian reserve. 

Get enough sunlight.  The more natural light your body receives during the day, the more likely it will be to stay in tune with regular day-night rhythms.  Always aim to get sunshine in the morning if you can.

Disconnect from electronic devices an hour before bed.  If I had to choose one tip that has made the biggest difference in my own life, this would be it!  The electromagnetic frequency can prevent the brain from moving through the five cycles of sleep correctly.  Plus, the blue light from cell phones and tablets can actually trick it into thinking it’s still daytime.  

Just say no to alcohol and caffeine.  If you have to have a coffee, make sure it’s before 2PM.  In terms of alcohol, it may seem like the perfect sleep aid but the truth is that it keeps you from entering the phases of deep, restorative sleep that you need throughout the night.  

Exercise daily (just not right before bed).  Exercise in the morning or midday is a great way to get a better night’s sleep, but working out too close to your bedtime can release the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin and prevent you from falling asleep when you need to.

Still your mind before bed.  Even if cell phones didn’t emit blue light and electromagnetic waves, they are a constant source of stimulation and excitement.  Instead of spending your last waking hour scrolling through social media or cuddling up with a live stream, take some time to disconnect, read a book, take a relaxing bath, or journal about the day.  Establishing a bedtime routine is key!

Enlist the help of essential oils.  Diffusing essential oils like lavender, sandalwood, cedarwood, and vetiver can lull you into the relaxing sleep that your body craves.

For the past few weeks I have been making my own sleep a priority with great results.  Now when my boyfriend asks how I’ve slept, the answer is usually, “Really well, babe.”  Translation: Amazing!

References:

https://academic.oup.com/molehr/article/6/7/595/1225756

https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article-abstract/41/1/zsx186/4608174?redirectedFrom=fulltext

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4402098/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-truth-about-exercise-addiction/201808/the-connection-between-sex-and-sleep

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-fertility-sleep-disorders/sleep-problems-tied-to-female-infertility-idUSKBN1E92XO

https://www.sleep.org/articles/can-sleep-affect-conception/

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