Everyone knows that a good night’s sleep does wonders for one’s mood. However, did you know that your sleep quality affects your hormones and fertility too? Here’s how.
Many of us have a masochistic relationship with sleep, putting off going to bed on time in favour of…just about anything else. By the time your alarm rings, you’re often singing an entirely different tune, wanting to stay tucked in bed for as long as possible. Fact is, most people are aware of this but proceed to make the same mistake anyway.
Everyone instinctively knows the benefits of a good night’s sleep. You’re in a better position to tackle the day’s challenges when you’re well-rested because your mood is great and you feel more alert. Not getting enough sleep or tossing and turning through the night on the other hand, is a recipe for disaster when repeated enough.
Additionally, did you know that getting a proper night’s rest benefits your body too? For one, sleep removes toxins that build up in your brain while you’re awake . Then, there are your hormone and fertility levels. You might not be aware of the minute differences, but sleep definitely affects these too and that’s what we would be exploring in this article.
What is considered a good night’s sleep?
According to a 2016 research study, a good night’s sleep comprises several factors. These include falling asleep in 30 minutes or less, and staying that way for at least 85% of the total amount of time you spend in bed . It sounds fair, because if you fall asleep quickly, it’s the precursor to a restful night.
There are other indicators as well, including waking up without the help of an alarm, not craving any caffeine the day after, and feeling like your skin is in excellent condition . It’s not only about the amount of time that you are sleeping, but also how you feel when you wake up in the morning.
Speaking about feelings, you’d definitely know whether you’ve had a good night’s sleep. If you’re feeling terrible when you wake up and can’t shake it off after hours without any caffeine, it’s safe to say that you didn’t rest well. If this occurs for several days in a row, it’s time to think about what you can do to remedy this.
How do you achieve a good night’s sleep?
Which brings us to this: it’s everyone’s dream to sleep well because who in their right mind wouldn’t want to be well-rested? The challenges that you face everyday are tough enough, so 6 to 9 hours of complete peace and quiet at night is much-needed. Unfortunately, achieving a good night’s sleep on a daily basis requires you to put in some work too.
Firstly, make it a habit to get enough sleep on a daily basis. If you know how much sleep is ideal for you and what time you need to wake up everyday, simply work backwards and go to bed at the appropriate time. If you find yourself constantly procrastinating because of your hobbies, dedicate a set amount of time to them before sleeping.
Secondly, what you do and consume affects your sleep quality. Everyone knows caffeine spells trouble, with its effects lasting for hours . If your caffeine consumption is disrupting your sleep, adjust it accordingly. Additionally, some exercise on a daily basis will help you sleep better. If only there was an activity that you could conveniently participate in while in bed…
Lastly, your bedroom has to be conducive for sleep. If it’s too warm or cold, you’d feel uncomfortable and might wake up halfway through the night. Light and noise are potentially disruptive too. Ensure your curtains are up to snuff and that you’re able to remove any noise sources, be it through soundproofing, earphones, or any other method out there.
How does a lack of sleep affect your hormones?
As mentioned earlier, a lack of sleep affects your body in many ways. The toxins that build up in your brain throughout the day cannot be removed efficiently, and if you continue to lack sleep, serious health issues like diabetes and stroke may await .
Furthermore, not sleeping well affects your hormone levels in a number of ways too.
For one, the production and levels of hunger hormones (leptin, ghrelin, and insulin) are impacted by disrupted sleep or poor sleep quality . If this continues for a prolonged period of time, you’re looking at insulin resistance and weight gain. The former is also a precursor to diabetes.
Cortisol is another hormone that’s affected by a lack of sleep, with our bodies secreting more of it during the day to possibly keep us awake . Cortisol is one of a few stress hormones that the body produces, which means that consistently high levels of it are harmful to you. An increased risk of anxiety and depression are just a few health problems you’ll face.
Somatotropin, also known as the human growth hormone (HGH), is affected if you don’t get enough sleep too. This hormone helps with muscle development, metabolism, and protein production, amongst others . It might be an absolutely crucial hormone for children, but it remains important throughout adulthood as well.
To stay on top of things as you’re trying to conceive, why not consider the quick and fuss-free Hormone Test? There’s no need to schedule an appointment with a clinic and you’ll receive your results in 2 weeks, tops.
How does a lack of sleep affect your fertility?
Now that you know sleeping poorly and/or insufficiently affects your body, it’s not surprising to learn that your fertility takes a hit too. And no, it’s not just about a lack of energy and motivation to do the devil’s tango. For women, an unnatural pattern of sleep alters the secretion of reproductive hormones, according to a research study performed in 2015 .
To be precise, increased luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels were observed in shift workers who slept during the day. When they slept at night, their LH and FSH levels were unchanged. Additionally, shift workers who did not take naps had higher estradiol levels.
High estradiol levels are associated with a loss of sex drive and depression , which isn’t great for one’s fertility. Additionally, if a woman’s estradiol levels are extremely high, the risk of uterine and breast cancer increases . High FSH levels are similarly damning, indicating that less good quality eggs and embryos are being produced .
It takes 2 hands to clap, so it goes without saying that men benefit from being well-rested too. A 2017 study performed in China found that sperm count, survival, and motility were all affected by sleeping later, too little, and even too much . Optimal fertility for males depends on just the right amount of quality sleep. Simple, right?
When should you consider seeing a doctor?
If you’re experiencing poor quality sleep on a regular basis after trying everything under the moon, it’s time to see the doctor. It might be due to a thyroid problem or other conditions that can only be revealed upon taking a blood test . Depending on severity, you might have to spend a night at a sleep centre as well, where you’re monitored while you try to catch some z’s.
Before your doctor’s appointment, it's best to note down any medication that you’re on, physical and mental stressors, and other pieces of information that’d be good to communicate across. This lets you make the most out of your visit to the clinic and also allows for a more accurate diagnosis. After all, knowledge is power.
Your doctor might prescribe you one of a few sedatives too, such as antihistamines or benzodiazepines. However, these should only be taken in small doses for a short period of time. Medical professionals believe that behavioural techniques are more tedious, but superior because they have lower risks and carry long-term benefits .
Much ado about sleep
No one has ever turned down a good night’s sleep, and that’s one of the reasons why people look forward to the weekends or holidays. It’s a win-win situation; your mood gets a nice lift and your body will thank you for being well-rested. And if you’re trying to conceive, sleeping well benefits both male and female fertility levels.
It’s been said many times and many ways, but keeping your mind and body in great condition goes a long way in conceiving. Sleeping well on a regular basis might be tricky, but it’s still one of the easiest methods of ensuring that you’re fertile. What’s more, there’s the added benefit of having the energy and desire for some serious BMS.
And when you and your partner are done sweating it out, you might even feel like catching a snooze right after. A virtuous cycle indeed.