Approximately 10% of women experience problems when trying to get pregnant. Ovulation disorders, (such as PCOS), hormonal imbalances, structural abnormalities (i.e. blocked falloian tubes) and harmful habits (i.e. smoking and alcohol abuse) are well known causes of infertility. Researchers from Taiwan believe they have discovered another factor.
Previous research has already documented a connection between sleep apnea (disturbed breathing) and infertility. A 10-year-long study recently published in Sleep journal examined the effect of other sleep disorders on fertility. It involved close to 50 thousand Taiwanese women aged 20-45 (approximately a third of whom were diagnosed with a sleep disorder).
The findings showed that women suffering from a sleep disorder were 3.7 times more likely to experience fertility-related issues and 2.7 times likely to be diagnosed with infertility than those who do not have one. Insufficient sleep was also found to contribute to other health issues, such as depression and anxiety, thyroid dysfunction and irregular menses.
In line with the findings, specialists have come up with a list of recommendations to women planning a pregnancy:
- Avoid (if possible) shift work, which can wreak havoc on the body clock.
- Avoid using your phone/tablet close to bedtime. The light released by the devices’ screens causes the brain to delay releasing the sleep hormone melatonin.
- Maintain a balanced diet and exercise regularly.
- Make sure you get enough hours of rest per night. If needed, try to go to bed earlier.
Not Just in Women
Unsurprisingly, insufficient sleep has also been listed as one of the causes of infertility in men. A 2013 Danish study showed an almost 30% decrease in sperm quality amongst men diagnosed with a sleep disorder. Both concentration of sperm in semen and number of spermatozoa with normal motility were found to be affected.