Sleep and Infertility: How Sleep Disturbance Can Hurt Your Fertility Journey

As adults who are busy in our everyday lives, we tend to forget that sleep plays a major role in our overall health and well being. Oftentimes, we are so overwhelmed by responsibilities that we forget to rest. However, we should never compromise quality sleep; especially if you are trying to boost your fertility. 

Yes, as surprising as it may seem, sleep and fertility link to one another! Sleeping not only regulates the maintenance of healthy cells, it also refreshes and restores your brain and organ systems, including balancing all of your hormones; especially your reproductive hormones. 

Beyond sleep’s impact on your overall health (and of course, the healthier you are, you get a better chance of conceiving), there have been studies which implicate that one’s sleep can greatly impact one’s fertility. For example, sleeping disorders usually contribute to a lot of other health problems. Specifically, for women, sleep deprivation can negatively affect their reproductive health. 

Numerous research studies have shown that poor sleeping habits are associated with weight problems, menstrual disorders, inflammatory dysfunction, and mood issues. For those struggling with infertility, irritability, or mood issues can, in turn, strain your intimate relationships and lead to fewer opportunities for conception. 

Sleep disturbance also greatly impacts the frequency and duration of menstruation, the health of pregnancies, incidence of postpartum depression, and menopausal transition, according to this research article from the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health. 

The hormones that are responsible for regulating reproduction, sperm production, and egg quality are closely related to your sleep cycle. In fact, one’s fertility is not only affected by the quantity and quality of their sleep, but also by their circadian rhythm! 

What is the Circadian Rhythm?

Ever noticed that you tend to feel sleepy or energized around the same time every day? If your answer is yes, then you know how the circadian rhythm works! Your circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that runs within a special gland in your brain (the pineal gland) and regularly cycles between when you are sleepy or when you are alert. Circadian rhythm is also commonly known as the “sleep or wake cycle“. 

Many of our body’s essential hormones peak while sleeping, especially during dawn or early morning hours. The United States’ Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) and Prevention has reported that people who are sleep deprived — a reality for more than one-third of Americans — tend to be more at risk of infertility. Research also suggests that women who are struggling with sleep, tend to be three to four times more likely to experience infertility. 

The Role of Melatonin in Your Circadian Rhythm, and Fertility

Melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, is also closely related to the circadian rhythm. In fact, melatonin helps in signaling your circadian rhythm that it is time to be resting. People who have sleep disorders, and those who work at night, have lower levels of melatonin. This is why melatonin supplementation for infertile patients may result in improved chances of conceiving.

Since melatonin greatly impacts your sleeping habits, I have come up with a list to help you increase your melatonin hormone levels, naturally.

  1. Get Some Sunlight – Sometimes, being chronically unexposed to the sun can confuse your sleep cycle, as the brain’s programming for our pineal gland and thus our circadian rhythm, is in part determined by being able to see the rise and fall (diurnal rhythm) of the sun.
  2. No Gadgets Before Sleep – Phones, tablets, and computers have blue light. Not only will blue light affect your eyesight, it also blocks melatonin release, by interfering with your body’s normal circadian rhythm. This is why scanning through your phone before bed, does not really help. 
  3. Eat Melatonin Rich Food – Eating food that is rich in tryptophan will definitely help increase your melatonin levels. Tryptophan is found in protein, oats, chicken, and many more. 

These small adjustments might be able to help you get better sleep which, can boost your chances of conceiving. 

In a nutshell, quality sleep is highly essential in one’s overall health. The healthier you are, the higher your chances of conceiving. This is why you should never compromise your sleep. Sleeping does not only “refresh” your thoughts and your muscles but it restores your cells, allows your body systems to reboot and leaves room for your key reproductive hormones to begin to peak when they should. Lack of sleep, however, does the total opposite of this. 


Knowledge is like gold for any individual or couple who is in the process of trying to conceive. It is imperative to explicate the effects of sleep on your own fertility journey, by assessing your lifestyle habits. If you believe that you or your loved one may have a sleep disorder, especially if you are also struggling to conceive, addressing the sleep disorder is critically important. This includes being evaluated by a sleep specialist and completing a sleep study.

The success of your fertility journey is dependent on various lifestyle factors such as diet, physical activity, vices, stress management, and the most basic one, quality of sleep. Start winning on these checklists so that you can optimize not only your fertility but also your overall well-being!

5 Fertility Health and Wellness Tips

Trying to get pregnant should, theoretically, be THE MOST FUN THING EVER. At the start of the COVID19 pandemic, many women delayed child bearing plans, and many infertility clinics were shuttered. But, as the COVID19 pandemic now drags on, thousands of women across the country are trying to figure out how best to protect themselves and their chances of conceiving. Trying to get pregnant is, in fact, valuable training for parenthood. When it comes to having kids, you will never have complete control again (much like everything about living through a global pandemic).

At ART Compass, we guide the “TTC” (trying to conceive) journey, so we decided to put together the top fertility tips from our experts. Once couples decide it’s time to have a baby, having to wait is quite frustrating, whether you have lost a job, income, health insurance related to COVID19, or you’ve been trying for a year or for a month and you’re still not pregnant yet.

1. Take your Prenatals, Folic Acid, Vitamin D, and CoQ10

Folic Acid is the single most recommended substance, because it prevents major birth defects in the developing brain and spine of your baby. Many different studies have pointed out the ability of Coenzyme Q10 supplementation, 600 mg/day for 60 days, to improve the ovarian response to stimulation. Although the data for vitamin D and fertility is not entirely conclusive, several studies have found that vitamin D blood levels of 30 ng/mL or higher are associated with higher pregnancy rates.

2. Track Your Ovulation like a Stalker 

Recently, Harper et. al. looked at over half a million ovulation cycles worth of data collected via the FDA Approved Natural Cycles app to enhance our understanding of the key stages of ovulation. The results demonstrated that few women have that textbook 28 day cycle, with some experiencing very short or very long cycles. The findings show that an average cycle lasts for 29.3 days and only approximately 13% of cycles are 28 days in length! In the entire study, only 65% of women had cycles that lasted between 25 and 30 days. It is very important to time your intercourse correctly when TTC. Knowing your fertile days is the first step! 

3. Have a Preconception Check Up

Have a complete physical, including a pap smear and breast exam, because it’s much easier to diagnose and treat problems before getting pregnant. You can have your fallopian tubes checked to make sure they are “open”, your uterus checked to make sure you don’t have fibroids, scar tissue or ovarian cysts. A semen analysis will tell you the health of your partner’s sperm. You may even have the three hormones that regulate fertility, FSH, Estrogen and AMH checked!  Antimüllerian hormone (AMH) is an indicator of how many eggs you may have left. Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is produced by your pituitary gland and signals your ovaries to release an egg every month. Estradiol (E2) is another female sex hormone produced in the ovaries that rises around ovulation.

4. De-Stress with Yoga, Meditation and Mind-Body Work

Does stress lead to infertility? Probably not but stress leads to binge eating and weight gain, drinking more, using nicotine and THC, and poor sleep and many other things that DO affect fertility. Recent research on women diagnosed with infertility, and if they take part in stress and relaxation methods—like mindfulness, some forms of yoga and other mind-body exercises— have demonstrated an actual difference in the time it takes them to conceive. 

5. Know that it Can Take Up to One Year… 

Focusing too much on what you don’t have (yet!) can become an obsession, and the more you dwell on the negative, the more you open yourself up to the possibility of depression, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, unworthiness and more. In general, a fertile couple has a good chance of getting pregnant within a year, as out of 100 couples trying to conceive naturally:

20 will conceive within one month;
70 will conceive within six months;
85 will conceive within one year;
90 will conceive within 18 months;
95 will conceive within two years.


About The Author

Dr. Carol Lynn Curchoe is the founder of the ART Compass App. She is also a reproductive biologist practicing clinical embryology.

Her PhD. research focused on animal cloning at the University of Connecticut and her postdoctoral fellowship (The Burnham Institute) focused on human embryonic stem cell research.

Her active research interests span reproductive biology, from basic embryology to cutting edge artificial intelligence applications for IVF.

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