Keeping in mind the various medical and social causes of infertility, sleeping habits should not be overlooked, especially if you and your partner have no medical reason for why you cannot have a baby. It has been clinically proven that sleep patterns do have an effect on the ability of a couple to conceive. A person needs good sleeping habits to have a healthier and more energetic life. So, it should not come as a surprise that good sleeping habits are needed to start a family and have a baby.

There are many ways in which sleeping patterns are connected to infertility in both men and women. But how are your sleep-cycles regulated in the first place? The body regulates sleeping and waking times internally through a biological clock also known as the circadian rhythm. In part, this biological clock causes melatonin to be secreted only in darkness, naturally, during sleep. This hormone not only regulates sleep cycles but also protects the eggs in females from oxidative stress. Thus, melatonin plays an important role in enhancing a woman’s fertility. So, it is advisable to turn your lights off and get a good night sleep for melatonin to function well.

Melatonin is not the only hormone affected by sleep, but it was also noted that sleep deprivation causes an imbalance of other hormones such as leptin which regulates ovulation during night time. Estrogen is also affected; women who work night shifts have lower estrogen levels than women who work during the day. For that reason, night-shifters like nurses are more prone to infertility and miscarriage problems. Also to test the effect of sleep deprivation on Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) levels, a study concluded that women having few hours of sleep had 20% less FSH than women who had more sleep.

But what about men? The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism issued a study that proclaimed that men suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have decreased testosterone levels during sleep as compared to healthy ones. For those who do not know, OSA or obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by episodes of breathlessness during sleep lasting typically for few seconds with the person being unaware of the condition. One of its first signs is snoring along with other symptoms including sleepiness during the day, restless sleep and decreased sex drive in both males and females. In addition, the SLEEP journal published a study suggesting a link between obstructive sleep apnea and reduced sperm count in males. So, if the loud snoring of your partner disturbs you through the night, it is better to see a sleep physician.

Furthermore, couples who decide to do In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) might actually have a better chance of success if they regulate their sleep patterns. Also, it is advisable to continue having adequate sleeping hours even after getting pregnant as this will help decrease the incidence of miscarriage.

So what can you do? Now that you know that following a sleep schedule and having good sleep hygiene practices can increase your chances for having a baby, you can start by having at least seven hours of sleep every night, optimally eight hours. It is better to eliminate any source of light from your bedroom like an artificial light or the TV to make it as dark as possible. Checking your phone is also not advisable when you are trying to sleep. If you are a night-shifter, try changing your working hours, and most importantly, if you notice that your partner snores or is not breathing easily, consult a sleep doctor to make sure it is not obstructive sleep apnea.