Are you struggling to conceive? Sleep quality affects almost every aspect of our lives from productivity to our moods. Recent research has uncovered yet another important link between sleep quality and the ability for women to conceive.
Essentially it all boils down to this: if you sleep poorly, your chances of successfully conceiving go down.
You may ultimately manage to get pregnant but it might take you longer than average.
Research into sleep and fertility is not yet done and dusted. But scientists already have some pretty strong ideas about some of the ways poor sleep interferes with conception.
Reduced sleep quality mostly affects hormones, which are the main drivers of fertility. Researchers have found that not getting the recommended amount of sleep (7-8 hours), wreaks havoc on your reproductive hormones leaving you struggling to conceive.
This interferes with ovulation, menstruation and other reproductive processes.
But the negative reproductive effects of sleep doesn’t just happen to women. Your male partner may also be hampering your chances of getting pregnant by sleeping for fewer hours.
A 2017 study involving 981 otherwise healthy men found that those who slept for shorter periods had lower sperm counts. Their sperm were also ‘lazier’ in that they did not move as quickly and efficiently (what scientists call reduced sperm motility).
Poor sleep can also have more obvious impact on fertility and conception. When you don’t sleep well you’ll feel more tired and irritable. You’ll have sex less frequently which raises the chances that you will end up struggling to conceive.
In most cases, you can improve your sleep quality without having to turn to expensive medications or therapy.
One way to do it is by using herbs. Some of these herbal remedies have been used for hundreds of years to help people sleep better. Most of them work by helping your mind and body relax, which makes it easier for you to fall asleep.
Here are the 5 best herbal remedies to help you sleep better.
Note: Whatever you do please don’t take melatonin supplements unless your doctor recommends it. It’s better if you train your body to naturally fall asleep rather than develop a dependence on sleeping pills!
Lavender is well known for its mind-calming qualities. It lowers stress levels, helping you beat insomnia.
There are several ways to use the lavender herb. You can make some lavender tea and sip a cup a couple of hours before bedtime or use the flowers to make a potpourri for aromatherapy.
This is another herb that is commonly used to treat various types of sleep problems including insomnia.
Valerian root is a natural sedative. Much like lavender, it works by calming down your mind and body which primes you for sleep.
Some studies have shown that regular use of this herb can reduce the amount of time you take to fall asleep by as much as 20 minutes.
The trick with using valerian root is that you have to take it for several days or even weeks before you notice any change to your sleep patterns.
The easiest way to take Valerian root is in form of powder or tablets. The powder can be used to make tea or can be added to other beverages.
Hops are the female flowers of the plant, Humulus lupulus. They are commonly used in making beer. They are responsible for the bitter flavor.
But they are also popular as alternative treatments for sleep disorders.
Research is mixed when it comes to the effectiveness of this herb in improving sleep quality. But there are a few studies plus lots of anecdotal evidence that show a positive impact on sleep from taking hops.
Like many other sleep herbs, these flowers have a sedative effect on the mind and body. As you relax, it becomes easier to fall asleep.
To see quicker results, some researchers suggest using hops together with Valerian root.
While there hasn’t been much research about the effect of chamomile on sleep in humans, animal tests have shown that it is a mild sleeping aid.
Anecdotal evidence from users of the herb back the common belief that it helps with sleep.
Similar to other herbs, chamomile is a – you guessed it – natural sedative. It helps you relax and fall asleep.
Lemon balm is part of the mint family. There isn’t much research into the effectiveness of lemon balm in improving sleep but the little there is suggest that it contains sedative chemicals.
Using lemon balm along with chamomile or valerian root can produce quicker results than using either on their own.
To enjoy lemon balm, make some lemon balm tea using dried leaves or tea bags. You can also use lemon balm powder.
One of the first things to suffer when you are stressed is your sleep quality. Insomnia starts creeping in and soon you find yourself staying up hours later than you used to.
Find a way to lower your stress levels especially in the evening. Different people will find different relaxing techniques to be effective. Find one that works for you.
Some good ideas include taking a long hot bath (at least 2hrs before bedtime), yoga, meditation, reading and journaling. Things like taking an evening walk or spending time with your family can also help you feel more relaxed when you go to sleep.
If you are struggling to conceive, a regular workout routine not only reduces stress levels, it also directly affects your sleep quality.
Late afternoon exercise can be especially helpful in combating insomnia. The cool-down after the workout makes it easier to fall asleep.
Make sure you are sleeping in the right environment. Start by assessing your mattress. Is it comfortable or worn out? Does it cause back pain and neck aches?
If it’s older than 8-10 years, it’s probably time to get a new one.
Next, check that the bedroom is cool enough for sleep. The ideal sleep temperature range is 60-67 Fahrenheit.
Also make sure that there are no bright lights getting into the room (use blackout curtains if there are intruding outdoor lights) and that it’s quiet too. If silence doesn’t work for you, you can also try white noise or sleep sounds.
If you’ve been trying to improve your sleep quality with no success, you might be suffering from a sleep disorder like chronic insomnia.
It’s always a good idea to see a doctor if you have been having persistent sleep problems for a while. Depending on the initial diagnosis, you might be referred to a sleep specialist who will carry out a more extensive diagnosis and probably recommend a sleep study.
If it’s a sleep disorder, you’ll need more intervention beyond the above tips which may involve therapy and medication.
Let us know if you were struggling to conceive and think it was sleep related? Did you change your sleep habits or try any of the above herbal sleep aids? Did it help? We’d love to hear any thoughts in the comments below…
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