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Dreaming of Pregnancy? Why Sleep Matters — A Lot

Image credit: Stephanie Hofschlaeger via stock.xchng

How many hours of sleep do you get per night? According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average woman between 30 and 60 years of age sleeps only 6 hours and 41 minutes per night. Sound about right?

Sleep is an important aspect to our overall health. Without enough sleep, decision-making skills diminish, response time slows, and your risk for stroke, cancer, and heart disease increase. New research shows that operating on too little sleep is roughly equivalent to being legally drunk.

While an hour of sleep missed here or there doesn't seem like a huge deal, when you compound the effects over time, it can be massive. Sleep debt doesn't just go away, so missing an hour a night is like pulling an all-nighter once a week!

The amount of shut-eye you get per night is especially significant to your reproductive capacity. Hormonal signals that control a number of reproductive functions are regulated during sleep, so even though you may think you're just missing that extra beauty sleep, you might also be missing your best chance to conceive. Let's take a look...

Leptin

While progesterone, estrogen, luteinizing hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone are all affected by your sleep patterns, one of the most important hormones changed by sleep is leptin.

Leptin is essential for promoting ovulation and regulating menstruation. In addition to regulating ovulation, leptin also increases the weight of the uterus—an indication that the lining is ideal for embryo implantation.

When sleep is interrupted, leptin levels drop, causing disruption in your menstrual cycles, irregular ovulation, and scanty uterine linings.

Cortisol

Sleep also has an impact on cortisol function. When you’re not sleeping enough, your body makes up for the resulting lack of energy by producing more of the stress hormone cortisol to power you throughout the day.

An increase in cortisol caused by sleep deprivation not only taxes your adrenal glands, it has a hugely negative impact on progesterone levels as well.

Progesterone is recruited to produce increased cortisol, taking it away from its important fertility-related tasks like preparing the endometrium for implantation and maintaining early pregnancy.  

Insulin

Adequate sleep is also required to maintain a healthy metabolism. In a study of healthy college students, researchers found that participants whose sleep was repeatedly disturbed, even for one night, were found to exhibit decreased sensitivity to insulin, a condition that is generally a warning sign for diabetes.

When your body doesn’t get the sleep it needs, it increases its desire for calories to keep it running. Your appetite increases and this can cause weight gain, which has been associated with ovulatory irregularity and decreased fertility. You also increase cortisol levels and your risk for metabolic diseases like diabetes and PCOS. 


Your body, especially the reproductive system, is controlled by a complex hormone system — a system that starts to break down without enough sleep.


Without proper sleep, our bodies and our reproductive systems begin to shut down. If you struggle with getting enough sleep, or need medication to make sure that you get enough shut-eye, your fertility may be suffering as a result. Luckily there's a simple fix that is totally in your control: a good night's sleep.

Sleep experts agree that improving your sleep hygiene — your sleeping environment and habits — is the most important step to restoring normal, healthy sleep. Conceivable's custom plans for women that struggle to get pregnant help you tackle big issues, like sleep, one small step at a time. It's how we help women dramatically improve their fertility to have happy, healthy, natural pregnancies.