How sleep deprivation affects your chances of getting pregnant

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What has sleep deprivation have to do with fertility? According to a 2017 study on sleep issues, women who don’t get enough sleep are likely to struggle with getting pregnant. More specifically, the study found that women who suffer from insomnia are four times more likely to find it hard to get pregnant, as compared to women who don’t have any issues with sleep. 

In this blog post, we discuss how sleep affects your fertility, and share thought-provoking statistics and research on the same topic. Read on to find out more!

How does sleep deprivation affect women’s fertility?

Sleep deprivation affects women’s fertility in three areas – menstruation, ovulation and pregnancy. 

In a nutshell: if you get enough sleep, and you’re well-rested, then this makes it more conducive for you to have regular menstrual cycles, conceive, and carry a baby to term. If not, it’ll be that much harder for you to have a child. 

The impact of sleep on menstruation 

When you keep irregular hours or experience sleep deprivation, there’s a significant chance that this will impact your menstrual cycle. 

Case in point? This study tracked the sleep quality of 68 nurses who were either working night shifts or shifting between day and night shifts, and it found that 53% of the nurses experienced changes in their menstrual cycles when their shift work started. On top of that, the nurses who reported menstrual irregularities were found to get one hour less sleep per night, compared to those who didn’t report menstrual changes.

Obviously, if your period isn’t consistent, this makes it difficult for you to figure out when you’re ovulating. Assuming that’s the case, it’ll be difficult for you to make the most out of the window of opportunity (ie the few days per month in which you’re fertile).  

The impact of sleep on ovulation

Menstruation aside, having too little sleep also makes it difficult for women to ovulate. If you’re wondering how this works, it all boils down to follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which is a key hormone that supports the process of releasing an egg. 

To unpack this more: a study found that women who sleep six hours or less per night produce 20% less FSH than women who sleep for eight hours or more. To err on the side of caution, stick to the recommended eight hours per day, and don’t settle for anything less! 

The impact of sleep on pregnancy

While sleep deprivation and low quality sleep makes it harder for women to conceive, there are plenty of women who do manage to get pregnant even though they’re getting insufficient sleep. 

But here’s the thing: these women still need to take extra precautions throughout their pregnancy, because lack of sleep can also cause pregnancy complications, and impact a woman’s ability to carry her baby to term. 

For instance, studies have found that pregnant women who work night shifts or irregular shifts double their odds of miscarriage. We also know that pregnant women who experience sleep deprivation because they overwork themselves are twice as likely to deliver prematurely. Finally, pregnant women who sleep less than six hours per night tend to go through nine more hours of labour as compared to women who get enough rest.

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