Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep per night for their bodies to function well. Yet, an estimated one-third of Americans are sleep-deprived. Just one night of inadequate sleep can lead to daytime drowsiness, impaired cognitive function, reduced energy levels, and mood swings. While these effects can easily be noticed, chronic sleep deprivation poses additional risks, including on men’s reproductive health.
How Sleep Deprivation Affects Male Fertility
Sleep deprivation affects male fertility through multiple causes:
- Inflammation: A 2016 study found that sleeping less than 6 hours, a late bedtime, and poor quality sleep increase the presence of inflammation. Inflammation can affect sperm production and also the outcome of assisted reproductive technology.
- Hormonal imbalance: The process of producing sperm is driven by a delicate balance of reproductive hormones, including testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH). A 2011 study found that following 5-hour sleep nights testosterone levels were 10-15% less than after a good night of sleep. Low testosterone is associated with decreased sperm production, a decrease in libido, and erectile dysfunction.
- Antisperm antibody production: A study of 981 healthy men found that sleep deprivation and late bedtimes impair sperm health through increased anti-sperm antibody production. Sperm counts were lower in short sleepers, as was sperm motility. Interestingly, the study also found that sleeping for too long led to impaired sperm health.
How to Improve Your Sleep
If you’re concerned about the impact of sleep deprivation on your fertility, there are a few things you can do to improve your sleep habits:
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up at around the same time each day and make sure you get at least 7 hours of sleep. A 2020 study of 104 men seeking fertility treatment found that sleeping before 10.30pm for 7.55 to 7.99 hours was associated with self-reported normal semen quality.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed as these can interfere with sleep.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine: this could include taking a warm bath (but not too hot), reading a book, or listening to calming music. Scrolling through social media before bed isn’t conducive to a good night’s sleep.
- Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet and cool. This will help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Get regular exercise, but not too close to bedtime.
Monitor your sperm
By following these tips, you can improve your sleep quality and overall health, all of which can have a positive impact on your fertility. You can also take a more proactive approach to your fertility by monitoring your sperm health. The YO Sperm Test allows you to monitor your sperm quality over time in the comfort of your own home, allowing you to spot any fluctuations and giving you the information needed to make smarter choices about your overall health.
Sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, and it’s especially important for men who are trying to conceive. By getting enough quality sleep, you can help improve your sperm quality and increase your and your partner’s chances of a healthy pregnancy.