The Right Way to Sleep When You Want to Get Pregnant
Sleeping while pregnant has its own array of complications—your new shape, heartburn, and back pain are just a few of the discomforts that may alter your sleep routine—but what about sleeping while you’re trying to get pregnant? It turns out that your sleep cycle has a direct impact on your body’s hormone levels. In fact, if you’re not getting enough sleep, it might impact your fertility.
Sleep & Hormones
When your body sleeps, it’s busy repairing cells and regulating hormones. One hormone produced during sleep is melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep/wake cycles. Melatonin also protects eggs against harmful entities, such as free-radicals. Without adequate sleep, eggs can become damaged and rejected by the body, causing diminished fertility and possibly even miscarriage.
Another reproductive hormone impacted by sleep is leptin. Leptin is mostly known as an appetite-regulating hormone, but it also plays a role in ovulation. When leptin production is compromised, menstrual cycles can become irregular.
How Much Sleep?
It’s recommended that women who are trying to conceive get eight hours of sleep per night. Of course, it’s a vicious circle: while stress can impact your ability to sleep, getting adequate sleep can actually help to lower your stress levels.[2.American Pregnancy Association. (2015). Preconception Health for Women.]
Family physician Dr. David Fisher says that while taking medication to promote sleep such as diphenhydramine (found in many antihistamines) is “generally safe” based on studies, there are natural remedies that serve as alternatives. Chamomile tea and warm milk are both recommended for bringing on drowsiness. Dr. Fisher warns against experimenting with sleep aids that are deemed “natural” but not regulated by the FDA.
The safest way to try to regulate sleep patterns is waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day.[3.Fisher, David, MD, MPH. (2009 October 25). Natural sleep aids in pregnancy.] Other ways to achieve restfulness both while trying to conceive and during pregnancy include eating well and staying active. Try to avoid any foods that could cause heartburn, such as harsh spices, carbonated beverages, and fried foods. Stay hydrated during the day, but avoid drinking too much right before bed to prevent having to pee in the middle of the night!
Finally, don’t overlook the importance of a cozy, relaxing sleep environment: you want total darkness (cover the lights on those charging devices and invest in blackout curtains!), and a cool temperature, which research shows promotes healthier sleep.[4.Mayo Clinic Staff. (2013 March 27). Pregnancy week by week.]
Sleep While You’re Pregnant
We won’t say much about sleep while you’re pregnant, because there is plenty of information available out there already. But here’s one thing you may not have heard: the scientific journal Fertility and Sterility recently published an article that found that, based on research, mothers’ prenatal sleep habits had far-reaching consequences on their offspring. Sleep deprivation could, in fact, affect the reproductive system of subsequent generations.[5.Alvarenga, T.A., Ph.D., Aguiar, M.F.P., M.S., Mazaro-Costa, R. Ph.D., Tufik, S., M.D., Ph.D., Andersen, Monica, Ph.D.] So get on top of your sleep habits now!