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The vital importance

of rest for fertility

How Might Sleep Affect Fertility?

Sleep is important for hormonal health. Sleep plays a major role in fertility from menstruation to conception to birth, serving as a major roadblock in people trying to conceive. The part of the brain that regulates the sleep-wake hormones in both men and women are responsible for triggering the daily release of hormones that affect ovulation and sperm maturation in men. A study in men who sleep less than 6 hours a night found that they are 31% less likely to achieve pregnancies than those who sleep 7 to 8 hours a night. This is due to the production of testosterone hormones (production of sperm) while sleeping. Sleep disturbances in men lower overall sperm count, decreased testosterone levels as well as its mobility. This can lead to changes in the structure of the male testes.

man sleeping
Espermatozoides alpha sleep center
Alpha fertility and sleep center
Alpha fertility and sleep center

Decreased sleep also increases anti-sperm antibodies, damaging your sperm further. Accumulating data suggest there is a progressive reduction in human sperm quality and 50% to 60% reduction in sperm counts in men in recent decades accounting for 20 to 30% of infertility cases. Studies have found that if women do not get enough sleep over a length of time it will have direct effects on reproductive-related hormones including estrogen, progesterone, prolactin, luteinizing hormone (LH) and the follicle-stimulating hormone. The LH is responsible for the regular menstrual cycle and ovulation and may contribute to the delay of conception. Women that experience sleeping problems are 3.7 times likely to become infertile over time.

"Provided here is both (a) a synthesis of literature that relates sleep and/or sleep disturbance to reproductive indices and (b) a framework encompassing the pathways by which sleep disturbance can interfere with fertility .

 There are at least three possible pathways by which sleep disturbance may be related to infertility: 1) the HPA activation that precipitates sleep disturbance may also interfere with reproduction; 2) altered sleep duration and/or sleep continuity disturbance may, in and of itself, interfere with reproduction or result in further increased HPA activation; 3) circadian dysrhythmia, independent of (or in interaction with) HPA axis activation, sleep duration and/or sleep continuity disturbance, may result in infertility".

Kloss JD, Perlis ML, Zamzow JA, Culnan EJ, Gracia CR. Sleep, sleep disturbance, and fertility in women. Sleep Med Rev. 2015;22:78-87. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2014.10.005

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