Sleep Your Way to Healthier Fertility
We know that sleep is important
It also has a direct impact on your reproductive hormones. Making sure your sleep and wake hormones (melatonin and cortisol) are secreted at the right times and with adequate quantity is crucial for your fertility. Not getting enough sleep, going to bed too late, and too much blue light at night (TV, phone, computer) can suppress melatonin, which is not only important for good sleep, but is a powerful antioxidant that supports egg quality.
Studies also show that working night shifts disrupts the circadian rhythm causing hormone imbalances like lower estrogen levels, irregular periods, more period pain, and increased time to conception. Poor sleep is associated with an impaired HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal) axis activation which means more stress hormones are circulating which can have a direct impact on reproductive hormones. It’s kind of a chicken and the egg scenario, what came first? The HPA dysregulation (aka stress) or insomnia. Either way, both need to be treated to support healthy fertility. Sleep deprivation is linked to high TSH (hypothyroid), increased prolactin, higher estrogen levels, and impaired immunity, all of which can impair fertility.
According to a recent study in the journal Human Reproduction, length and quality of sleep can affect IVF outcomes. Having disturbed sleep, or sleeping less than 7 hours were associated with a 11.5% decrease in egg quantity and quality. Women who had trouble falling asleep more than three times per week had a lower number of mature eggs, fertilized eggs, and good-quality embryos than those who had no trouble.
When you go to bed also matters.
The earlier hours of the night (before 2am) are when we get our most restful and deepest sleep. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we advocate going to bed before 10 or 11pm. This is so we are asleep during Liver and Gallbladder hours so our body can revitalize properly.
In short, poor sleep hygiene, going to bed too late, having disturbed sleep, and not getting enough hours has a directly negative impact on many hormones and harms fertility.
Acupuncture is a wonderful tool for activating the parasympathetic nervous system to reduce stress and anxiety and promote relaxation. It also helps to balance hormones and promote healthy fertility and egg quality. My other favorite tools for improving sleep are supplements (like adaptogens, magnesium, and melatonin), meditation and mindfulness, or Chinese herbs.
Interested in seeing what your treatment plan for boosting your fertility may look like? Feel free to give us a call at 604-678-8600 to book a free 15 minute discovery call.