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Trouble Conceiving? Check Your Man's Sleep Habits

Alison Wood |16, May 2013


Infertility can raise many questions in a couple's mind. After months or years of trying to conceive, the majority of couples turn to fertility treatments or adoption. However, a few simple changes in lifestyle may be the easiest answer.

Couples who believe that the man is the one in the relationship that is infertile may want to consider his sleeping habits. A recent Danish study at the University of Southern Denmark concluded that men who have poor sleeping habits have less sperm concentration. The scientists that performed this study hypothesize that lack of sleep inhibits the body from producing sperm.

In the above study, 953 men were surveyed about their personal sleep patterns. The researchers compared the answers with the collected sperms samples and discovered that the men who had not received adequate amounts of sleep in the past month had less mobile sperm and lower sperm counts. This same study also found that men who did not get six to eight hours of sleep nightly were more likely to have deformed sperm.

Tina Kold Jensen, who led the study at the University of Southern Denmark, said: "Men with a high level of sleep disturbance had a 29% lower adjusted sperm concentration."

A fertility expert at Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble France, Dr. Remy Slama thinks that many aspects of the modern industrialized life may be affecting the sperm counts of men in developed countries. He believes there are certain factors such as obesity, exposure to tobacco smoke as well as exposure to pollutants. Unfortunately, the rate of infertility in men in modern countries has increased in the past few decades.

"Even if each of these factors, (obesity, exposure to pollutants and tobacco smoke), has a weak impact at the individual level, the large number of factors and relatively high prevalence of exposure in the general population make it likely that at the population level, lifestyle and environmental factors put a high burden on male fecundity potential." Dr. Remy states.

This study showed the following results of men surveyed that said they had highly disturbed sleeping patterns:

  • A 33% reduction in sperm concentration
  • A 30% reduction in total sperm count
  • Less mobile sperm than men with less sleeping difficulties

Studies have not yet been performed to see if restored sleep patterns can improve sperm quality and count. This may be the very first study on sleep patterns being associated with lower fertility rates in men.

If you are a man struggling with infertility try the following steps to incorporate a healthier sleep pattern in your routine.

Cut back on caffeine.
The consumption of caffeine, whether it's from soda or coffee, can make it difficult to sleep. Try only consuming caffeinated products in the early morning and excluding them during the rest of the day.

Burning lots of energy during the day will make your body ready for some needed rest at night.

Wind down early.
If your bedtime goal is 10 pm, start winding down around 9 p.m. Turn off the TV, grab a shower and put your mind into sleepy mode. If you are rushing around after 9 your mind will not be calmed down enough for slumber at 10 p.m.

Drink warm milk.
Many people benefit from drinking one cup of warm milk before bed. It's worth a try!

Make your room dark and quiet.
Keep your bedroom a haven for rest. Pick out high-quality sheets with a high thread count and comfy pillows. Check your house thermostat and ensure that your house is at a comfortable temperature for snoozing. Turn off all the lights and electronic gadgets that may alert you of a new email or text message. You can always answer those in the morning!

Stay away from spicy foods.
Though these are enjoyed by many men, you may experience uninvited heartburn at bedtime that will inhibit your body from relaxing.

Changing your sleep patterns is a simple and possibly effective help in dealing with male infertility. Most fertility treatments are expensive and may have some negative side effects. Adding more sleep to your everyday routine is free and carries only positive side effects.

Sources: Oxford University Press, The Telegraph

Alison Wood is a stay-at-home mom of six and freelance writer and blogger. She enjoys raising her six children and desires to share her experiences to help other mothers.

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