Can You Sleep Your Way to Conception?
Your sleep habits and your fertility have more in common than you'd think.
Could sleeping like a baby help you have a baby? Maybe! According to new research from Denmark, guys with poor sleep habits are at risk for lower sperm counts, which could translate to TTC troubles.
The study included 900 men who filled out surveys detailing different sleep and lifestyle habits. Compared with guys who said they had an easy time hitting the hay, men who reported the largest number of sleep problems—including trouble falling asleep and frequent waking during the night—had a 29 percent lower concentration of sperm in their semen, on average. The same men also had higher percentages of abnormal sperm.
What’s the connection? It appears that lack of sleep may affect the normal rhythms of testosterone production, the main male sex hormone that has a peak in production while the body is sleeping. As the UK Daily Mail reports, another study that kept young men awake late into the night found their testosterone levels were reduced by morning, backing up this theory. On the other hand, the problem could also be that men who don’t get enough sleep have unhealthier lifestyles, overall. In the study, researchers found that guys with sleep problems were more likely to be overweight, drink more alcohol, and smoke—all three of which can contribute to lower sperm counts.
What about female fertility? Sleep can also make a difference. As clinical psychologist and sleep specialist Michael Breus PhD, DABSM, notes, “sleep has a powerful influence on the body’s hormonal system, which controls a woman’s cycle and regulates ovulation.” Furthermore, lack of sleep and full-blown insomnia “can trigger higher level of stress hormones, including cortisol, which can also disrupt a healthy fertility cycle,” he adds.
And here you thought sleep deprivation was only something you had to worry about once the baby actually gets here, right? If you need help falling asleep or resetting the clock on insomnia, here are five all-natural ways to make sure you—and he—catch up on your ZZZs:
- Eat a banana: Bananas contain beneficial amounts of L-tryptophan, an amino acid that the body converts into melatonin, the sleep-helping hormone. Bananas also contain magnesium, a muscle relaxant that can help you unwind.
- Drink warm milk: Milk contains calcium, which can calm the nervous system and keep sleep-busting stress at bay. Try drinking a small glass of warm milk 15 minutes before bedtime.
- Take a warm bath: A good soak just before bedtime can help your muscles and mind relax. For extra soothing power, add epsom salts and a few drops of lavender essential oils.
- Brew some chamomile tea: This herbal tea lacks the caffeine found in traditional teas, and natural compounds in chamomile have a calming effect on the body. Also, a warm liquid before bed can make you sleepy by raising body heat.
- Draw the shades: According to sleep experts, the ideal sleep environment is quiet and dark. Darkness can be crucial for inducing sleep because the body’s main sleep hormone is actually secreted when your brain perceives a lack of light.
One last tip? Since overheating can keep you awake, turn down the thermostat and cuddle up with some extra blankets to stay warm—or better yet, snuggle your mate!
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