Sleep Can Impact a Man’s Fertility

Sleep is important for overall rest and well-being, but a new study shows it might also impact a man’s fertility.

The value of a good night’s sleep cannot be overstated, especially in today’s hectic society. Research has shown that most Americans aren’t getting enough rest, even when it comes to teenagers and kids. Now, a new study finds that chronic sleep issues might actually lead to fertility problems down the road.

Danish researchers examined over 950 men over the course of three years. Each of the men contributed a sperm sample and also filled out a survey regarding their sleep habits as well their lifestyle. The findings, which were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that men who reported a high number of sleep disturbances had a 29% lower concentration of sperm in their semen. The sperm that they did have was also more likely to be damaged or abnormal.

In other words, a poor night’s rest seems to be associated with a lower volume of sperm, as well as a lower volume of healthy sperm. The researchers also found that other lifestyle factors such as being overweight or being exposed to tobacco or other pollutants also negatively impaired a man’s fertility.

If you are currently trying to have a child or you simply want to safeguard your fertility for the future, here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to establishing healthy sleep habits:

Turn off the television and laptop at least an hour before bed

Recent research from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found that using a computer before bed could lower a person’s melatonin levels (an important hormone which plays a major role in our sleep cycle). The researchers theorize that the light emitted from the computer screen or T.V. screen might throw off our natural sleep cycle by causing a dip in our melatonin, which makes it harder for us to fall asleep and also harder for us to stay asleep.

If you toss and turn often and wake up a few times a night, it might be time to consider DVRing your favorite late night shows and catching up with Letterman later on. Same goes for your tablet and your smartphone. Working in bed might seem like it will give you a extra boost at the office the next day, but as this study shows, it might just make it harder for you to fall asleep and stay asleep…all of which can do a number of your fertility!

Closely monitor your caffeine intake

This might seem like a given, but sometimes people don’t realize that caffeine is in many items, including chocolate, certain medications, and tea. Swap out your caffeinated drinks for water, and keep your drinks refreshing and delicious by adding in a slice or two of fruit such as lime or cucumber. And, remember not to indulge in too many alcoholic drinks before bed. Even a small amount of alcohol can disrupt your sleep, so practice moderation.

Practice good sleep hygiene

It’s tempting to sleep in late on the weekends or to stay up all night, but the truth is that doing so will only throw off your sleep cycle and make you even more exhausted and cranky on Monday morning. Plan activities on the weekend that will get you out of bed and that you look forward to, such as catching a baseball game or going for a hike with your friends. Soon, you will become accustomed to your new sleep schedule…and your fertility will be the better for it!

By Laura Berman, PhD