We know, we know. It can feel downright impossible to get the recommended 7 – 8 hours of sleep every night. Recent research shows as many as 30 percent of adults in the U.S. don’t get enough sleep.
But, if you’re trying to conceive, whether naturally or through in-vitro fertilization (IVF), getting enough sleep can significantly impact your outcome.
How Sleep Impacts Your Ability to Conceive
We often write sleep off as a passive activity, but your body actually does a lot while you shut down for the night. As you sleep, your body makes repairs to muscles and cells as your brain makes connections and forms memories. Your brain also secretes hormones, which is particularly important for women trying to conceive.
When you slack on sleep, your body doesn’t secrete the right amount of hormones it needs for conception. For example, one study found that people who got eight or more hours of sleep a night had 20 percent more follicle-stimulating hormones in their bodies, which is critical for conception.
Another study looked at IVF patients and found that women who got 7 – 8 hours of sleep per night had better outcomes than those who got less than seven hours or more than eight hours. While fertilization rates were around the same for the three groups studied, pregnancy rates were 10 percent higher for women who slept 7 – 8 hours consistently.
Our bodies operate according to what’s called a circadian rhythm. These biological patterns follow a 24-hour cycle and are often referred to as our body’s “internal clock.” Our circadian rhythms are impacted by light. So, we get tired when it’s dark, and we feel more awake when it’s light outside.
In animal studies, researchers have found that disordered circadian rhythms lead to a lower rate of embryo implantation. Further research suggests that humans who have disordered circadian rhythms, such as shift workers who work during the night and sleep during the day, can have the same results. One study found that hospital employees who worked the night shift had altered menstrual cycles, which can impact their ability to conceive.
How to Sleep Better
Ideally, you should be getting at least seven hours of sleep. However, we all go through stretches where that’s just impossible.
Getting quality sleep is essential for women trying to conceive. If you work the night shift or have a hard time getting seven hours of sleep a night, focus on quality over quantity.
Try these ideas to improve the quality of your sleep.
- Keep your room cool
- Take a warm, relaxing bath before bed
- Try to sleep between 10 PM and 7 AM
- Stop drinking caffeine six hours before your bedtime
- Eat a well-balanced diet, full of foods that can help you conceive
- If you sleep during the day, get blackout curtains to keep your room dark
- Read a book before bed instead of watching TV or reading on your phone
- Move more during the day (but don’t do a tough workout more than two hours before bedtime)
While getting adequate sleep can improve your chances of conceiving, it’s just one piece of the puzzle.
Your genes could also give you clues about your fertility. If you’re trying to conceive, get a NutriTots Genetic Test to learn how to optimize your wellness based on your genetic makeup. Order your genetic test today.