Most women today are fully aware of the benefits of nutrition and exercise prior to conception. But is that enough? Well, perhaps not! If you’re till having trouble conceiving naturally, research suggests that skipping out on your eight hours of sleep just might be the culprit that’s putting the kibash on your family planning.
Hormonal Effects of Sleepless Nights
Although most people need seven to nine hours of sleep each night to function well the next day, the National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) 1998 Women and Sleep Poll found that the average woman aged 30-60 sleeps only six hours and forty-one minutes during the work week. Without adequate sleep, you can’t achieve optimal health and wellness-let alone create a proper environment for a fetus.
A lack of sleep greatly impacts one of your body’s most important systems (especially for making babies), the endocrine system. That’s right-not getting enough zzzs will cause your endocrine system to malfunction. When that happens, your ability to conceive can decrease drastically and ladies, not having a properly functioning endocrine system is like not having water for your beloved plants-nothing can grow.
Oh Endocrine-Friend of Mine
Your endocrine system plays one of the most important roles in terms of regulating ovulation. The endocrine system controls all of the hormones in your body, which means that women (especially those who are trying to conceive) are adversely impacted when it fails to produce the necessary reproductive hormones like leptin. Generally when we think of leptin, we might think of it in terms of regulating your appetite and weight, which is important to help you reach your body image goals. However, if you’re trying to conceive, you also need leptin to help you reach your fertility goals.
Leptin the Fertility God
If you are not sleeping adequately, your leptin levels will decrease, which could lead to irregular ovulation; as well as, irregular or decreased menstrual cycles.
Dr. Randy Morris, a reproduction and infertility doctor located in Chicago, cites the following study: Researchers in Boston studied 14 female athletes who had stopped their menstrual cycle five years prior to the study. Their body fat was 40 percent less than the average woman. Eight of these women were given leptin, while the remaining women acted as controls. After just three months of treatment, women who received leptin supplements resumed their menstrual cycle and their ovaries began to function normally. Leptin also improved bone density bone markers in their blood. Conversely, there were no changes found in the menstrual cycle or bone density bone markers of the control group.
Needless to say, this study proves that women who are trying to conceive must ensure that they have adequate leptin levels-ideally by getting the proper amount of sleep.
Increasing Your Leptin Levels
If you are having problems conceiving, speak with your OB/GYN and put yourself on an adequate sleep regimen to restore your endocrine system. The following tips should be helpful in getting you back to sleeping like a baby:
- Try to get in bed by 10:00 PM. Your body-more specifically, your adrenal system does the majority of its recharging between the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m,
- Don’t snack on sugary foods before bedtime because it raises your blood sugar level, which can inhibit sleep,
- Make sure your room is cool and below 70 degrees, (I sleep like a baby at 68 or 69 degrees)
- Stop watching mood altering television programs,
- Try to avoid situations and people who upset you,
- Get into a good cardiovascular work-out routine, which will regulate your adrenal glands. Insomniacs have a significant higher level of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenocorticotropic (ACTH), and
- Avoid consuming caffeine after 12:00 PM.
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Morris, Randy S. MD. (June 2008). Could Leptin be the Next Fertility Medication. IVF1. Retrieved January 24, 2013 from http://www.ivf1.com/leptin/
(n.d.) Women and Sleep. National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved January 24, 2009, from