Wouldn’t that be nice? You wake up in the morning – and “Voila!” Time to pull out the maternity pants. Unfortunately sleep is not quite that magical, but there appears to be a “magical” number of hours to sleep to maximize your chances of conceiving. Research has found that women who sleep 7-8 hours have significantly higher pregnancy rates (53%) compared to those who sleep fewer (4-6) or greater (9-11) hours each night. This is why I sound like my grandmother during many of my patient visits as I often exclaim, “You go to bed at what time? That’s so late!” (Yes, even I stick to my “in-bed-by-10” rule!) The quality and quantity of sleep is important for your energy, mood, hormones and (you guessed it) fertility.
You won’t be shocked to learn that women undergoing fertility treatments report significantly higher sleep disturbances than prior to treatment. The worst part about this statistic is that the late night worry sessions (i.e. Googling the best and worst in fertility treatments – you know who you are) are likely further impacting your ability to conceive. But what you may find surprising, is the impact this guilty little habit is having on your sleep and hormones (most notably melatonin). The blue light that is emitted from your computer and phone screens can suppresses melatonin production and often delays sleep onset. To optimize your melatonin levels, here are some simple strategies you can incorporate into your evening routine to boost your fertility. Now, let’s shed some more light on the hormone that governs sleep!
Melatonin is produced by a tiny gland in the middle of your brain. Most of us know melatonin as “the thing we take to help us sleep”. What you likely didn’t know, is that it packs a powerful fertility punch! Melatonin’s benefits for reproduction lie in actions as a potent antioxidant that have been shown to benefit both male and female fertility. In men, supplementation protects sperm from oxidative stress and notably improves motility. Not to completely gloss over the men, but I am even more excited by what it has been found to help in women: improved oocyte quality, more mature oocytes at retrieval, improved fertilization rates (with and without ICSI), increased quality of embryos, improved implantation and higher pregnancy rates.[1,8] I know. I was really impressed by this research, too! Plus these benefits were found to be true even if the sleep problems did not improve in women undergoing IVF. There was also a small study that found melatonin to help with hormonal balance and cycle regularity in women with PCOS. And last (but by no means least), promising research is emerging that melatonin can not only prevent age-related ovarian decline, but actually improve quality of oocytes in women who previously had age-related failures due to poor oocyte quality and low fertilization rates. Taking all of this in, you may be asking yourself, “Could melatonin make your dreams come true?” Maybe.
Melatonin is a relatively safe nutrient. The research that has been done in women undergoing fertility treatments have not found melatonin to have significant side effects nor interactions with common ART medications. That being said, it is important to talk with a medical professional to ensure supplementation is safe for you. In fact, we would love to hear from you! Book your free Discovery 15-minute Consult [https://acutoronto.janeapp.com/#/discipline/4/treatment/55] to talk one-on-one with our naturopathic doctor and learn more about ways you can improve your sleep and fertility. In the mean time, head over to our website to download your free copy of Sleep Habits to Boost Fertility to help you make the most of your night time hours (and your fertility too).
- Carlomagno, G., et al. “Contribution of myo-inositol and melatonin to human reproduction.” European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology 159.2 (2011): 267-272.
- Eryilmaz, Ozlem Gun, et al. “Melatonin improves the oocyte and the embryo in IVF patients with sleep disturbances, but does not improve the sleeping problems.” Journal of assisted reproduction and genetics 28.9 (2011): 815.
- Park, I., et al. “The more, the better? the impact of sleep on IVF outcomes.” Fertility and Sterility 100.3 (2013): S466.
- Pavone, M. E., et al. “Sleep distubances high in patients seeking fertility preservation.” Fertility and Sterility 100.3 (2013): S168.
- Srinivasan, Venkatramanujam, et al. “Melatonin and human reproduction: shedding light on the darkness hormone.” Gynecological Endocrinology 25.12 (2009): 779-785.
- Tagliaferri, Valeria, et al. “Melatonin Treatment May Be Able to Restore Menstrual Cyclicity in Women With PCOS: A Pilot Study.” Reproductive Sciences 25.2 (2018): 269-275.
- Takasaki, Akihisa, et al. “Melatonin as a new drug for improving oocyte quality.” Reproductive Medicine and Biology 2.4 (2003): 139-144.
- Vitale, Salvatore Giovanni, et al. “How to achieve high-quality oocytes? the key role of myo-inositol and melatonin.” International journal of endocrinology 2016 (2016).