Sleep is Important for Fertility

Sleep is Important for Fertility

A new study presented at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) 2018 annual Scientific Congress and Expo in Denver, Colorado, highlighted the importance of sleep on fertility.  The prospective cohort study showed that women with regular bedtimes took less time to conceive a pregnancy than women with more erratic bedtimes.

The study was undertaken by researchers from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.  They recruited women from the community, who were trying to conceive. The women were given actigraphy watches to wear for two weeks to measure and record their activity and rest cycles.  The women’s times of sleep onset, waking, and sleep duration were all measured.  The participants’ were then divided into 4 groups based on how much their bedtimes varied from day to day.  Women in the lowest quartile had bedtime variations of less than 67 minutes per day and women in the highest quartile varied by more than 138 minutes from day to day.

Of the 176 participants, 75 were pregnant within 1 year following the initiation of the study.  Women who were white, those with lower body mass indices, and those with higher levels of education and income were more likely to become pregnant.  After adjusting for income and body mass index, women with less variation in their bedtimes had significantly shorter times to conception than women whose bedtimes were less predictable. Of note, the duration of sleep and wake up times did not correlate with a shorter time to conception.

“We know that adequate sleep is important to normal hormonal regulation and healthy functioning.  This study indicates that, for women planning to conceive, the establishment of regular sleep habits could be advantageous,” commented Elizabeth Ginsburg, MD, member of ASRM’s board of directors.

Optimizing lifestyle factors, such as sleep habits and diet, may help some women improve their overall fertility.  For more information on how lifestyle factors can affect fertility, visit our Lifestyle and Fertility page.

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