Guest blog by Sarah.
You know what it’s like. You’ve had an exhausting day; you feel bone-tired, fuzzy-headed and ready for bed by 9pm. Whether it’s been an especially challenging day at work or the kids are on summer holiday and have worn you out or you simply haven’t been sleeping properly, you can’t wait to get to sleep.
The thing is, as soon as you lay down your head, your “monkey mind” kicks into overdrive. Events of the day begin replaying, plans for tomorrow are formed and cancelled and reformed, worries/anxieties/random thoughts all churn together as you try your damndest to settle down.
Fortunately, there are some great programs out there to help you quieten your mind before bed. The thoughts may not disappear, but they won’t spiral out of control either. And the less you cling onto these thoughts, the more your mind will calm down as a result.
It’s a win-win, if you give it a bit of time and patience. Along with having the right resources like the ones found on the Sleep Advisor to guide your sleep tips.
The fact is, we all need our sleep.
Some need more than others depending on their age or situation, but the importance of getting this sleep is constant.
Getting enough sleep makes us more productive, energetic and creative people. It strengthens our relationships, boosts our career prospects and gives us a better quality of life as a result.
The role of sleep becomes even more apparent during crucial health points in our life. Like if we’re sick, or if we’re pregnant, or if we’re trying to conceive. During these times, our health should be our number one priority – and sleep is our key to staying as healthy as possible.
Firstly because sleep deprivation can be extremely detrimental to our mental and physical well-being. And secondly, because sleep has the power to help solve whatever problems you’re currently struggling with.
Sleep can help you to conceive.
Recent research has shown the link between poor sleep and reproductive issues in both men and women. Even so, sleep deficiency is one of the least explored causes of infertility…despite its major influence in this area.
The research indicates that the 12% of women in the US who have difficulty getting pregnant are falling 2 hours shy of the recommended sleeping times. While this may not have an obvious effect on their day-to-day lives, this lack of sufficient sleep on a continuous basis can can its toll.
Without sleep, our systems pay the price.
First of all, there’s the endocrine system; that matrix of fertility hormones that leads to ovulation in women and sperm production in men. It does most of its work during sleepy time and when we’re up all hours of the night instead, well, we don’t let it do its job. Our hormones can take a knock, too – like Leptin, which regulates ovulation and is normally most active between midnight and 4am. So women suffering from sleep disorders like insomnia are missing out on this key stage.
For men, too, who may be more prone to conditions such as sleep apnea, their reproductive capabilities are at risk. Their testosterone levels may plummet to an all-time low, or they may have a diminished sex drive in the first place.
And it can spiral from there.
Both men and women can suffer greatly from the combined effects of sleep deprivation and an inability to conceive. They might feel despondent, worthless and unattractive. And once the mental effects take hold, conception becomes an even more elusive thing. Worse still, the glue that’s been holding them together through this challenging time can start to come unstuck.
Don’t let it get to that stage.
If you and your partner are trying to get pregnant, make sure you get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between 7–9 hours of sleep every night. This might sound like a lot more than you’re used to, and you may not feel like you need it. After all, you can function perfectly well on 5 or 6 hours!
But simply functioning and being conscious of your health are two different things. And even though it may not feel necessary, your body does need those extra hours to work as efficiently as it’s built to be. Don’t kid yourself by thinking you can just “catch up” on sleep over the weekend either. It doesn’t work like that. You need to be getting enough, good-quality sleep every night to really feel the difference.
The good news is that, out of all the things that could be affecting your fertility, a lack of sleep is a relatively easy one to fix. It doesn’t require drastic diet changes or a move to another location. Nor does it involve spending a huge amount of time and money trying treatments that may not work. No, sleep is something that’s free for all of us… and very achievable, too!
So get to bed early tonight.
Have a bath first, or check out the guided meditation I linked to earlier, and leave the laptops out of the bedroom. Because checking your emails before lights out ain’t gonna help you sleep… and it certainly won’t help you conceive, either!
Here’s to getting better sleep from now on – and to getting the great news you deserve.
Sarah is a Mom to two adorable kids (one of each) and an all-round sleep enthusiast. She used to find it impossible to get to sleep until meditation changed everything. Now she is a daily meditator and she never slept more soundly!