Sleep is often mistakenly perceived as an inconvenience rather than a blessing. Sleep is essential for good health and plays a key role in how fertile we are and how easily we can get pregnant.
Our brain, our organs, our cells do most of their healing when we sleep. This includes reproductive organs. Too little sleep not only makes us tired and moody, affecting our relationships. It also throws off our hormones and immune systems. It’s also been linked to irregular menstruation, making it harder to get pregnant.
Our sleep cycle actually revolves around how much daylight we get during waking hours. We think of our biological clocks relative to getting pregnant but it actually refers to the inner clock that daily regulates our bodies. SAD, the seasonal affective disorder caused by inadequate levels of light, is prevalent during wintertime when days shorten. Lack of sunlight can bring on depression which also takes a toll on the menstrual cycle and overall fertility. At particular risk are women who have third-shift jobs, such as nurses, or waitresses and employees in 24-hour businesses. A recent poll of such third shift workers revealed not only irregular menstrual cycles but, in some cases, a failure to ovulate at all.
So, if you’re having difficulty getting pregnant, you need to assess your sleep habits. Here are some suggestions.
- Eight hours of sleep is ideal. (Some people even need nine.) It’s worth helping your body reach its optimum fertility just by upping your bedtime by an hour or two each night.
- Expose yourself to natural sunlight every day whenever possible, ideally for at least an hour, to permit your body to manufacture needed vitamin D and stave off depression. If you can’t, consider installing full spectrum bulbs inside your home or workplace. These are standard, screw-in fluorescent bulbs that contain the entire light spectrum that mimics natural light; even better, they are low in blue light which is known to retard sleep. (Blue light is prevalent in computers and televisions, so it’s ideal to turn these off at least two hours before you go to bed.)
- Sleep in complete darkness to boost melatonin production which improves your sleep quality as well as your hormonal and fertility levels. Even the slightest lights—a night light, an illuminated clock or even the street light outside peeking through the curtains—are all potential sleep and pregnancy deterrents. Try not to turn on the light if you have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Once the melatonin production is interrupted, it ceases for that night’s sleep cycle.
- Establish consistency. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, weekends and weekdays. Your biological clock needs regularity for good hormonal production.
- Avoid bright lights an hour or two before bed. Dim the lights or use low wattage bulbs, consider a hot shower or bath, or try meditation before bedtime to calm your mind and prepare your body for sleep. Sex with your partner might be just the ticket!
- Skip the night-time sleep aids. Despite what you may think, sleeping pills, even over the counter ones, can actually disrupt your sleep multiple times throughout the night without you realizing it, preventing you from accessing the deepest, most restorative sleep states. Alcohol also inhibits quality sleep.
Getting adequate, good quality rest each night is an easy, no-cost way to regulate and improve your fertility levels and improve your chances of getting pregnant. Do it for yourself as well as your baby!