When you’re trying to get pregnant, bleary-eyed mothers and fathers will give you a deer in the headlights look as they encourage you to, “Savor every moment of sleep that you can  because it could be your last…” What they don’t realize is that those precious moments of sleep they’re recommending are more important than we ever realized when it comes to your ability to become a parent in the first place.

Recent research is demonstrating a rather clear connection between sleep deprivation and infertility. It looks like one of the best things you can do for your mental, emotional and physical well-being – including your fertility prospects – is to get a good night’s sleep.

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Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Can Increase Your Chances of Getting Pregnant

Here’s the reality: without the advent of electricity and round-the-clock light, we humans were fairly solar powered creatures. We got up with the sun and went to bed within a short time after it set. Even candle and lamp light was dim enough (and expensive enough!) that we used it rather sparingly. Our body’s hormone levels have responded to this established pattern of light and dark in a very complex way – relying on sleeping and waking cycles to establish hormonal balance.

The studies that were reviewed and commented on by the scientific journal, Fertility and Sterility, have elicited shocking information about light pollution, sleep deprivation and other sleep-related factors that seem to affect fertility. Here are some of the things we are coming to realize:

Light pollution can affect egg viability. When the sun goes dowm, or the lights go off, and you head to dreamland, your body produces melatonin – a hormone that regulates sleeping and waking cycles. Here’s the caveat though, melatonin is also responsible for protecting eggs when they are close to ovulation, guarding against free-radicals and other degenerative entities. If you are someone who sleeps with lights on, who checks their cell phone every time it buzzes, or has the TV on non-stop, your body’s melatonin cycles get all screwed up. This, in turn, can prevent your eggs from getting the protection they need, resulting in damaged eggs that are then rejected by the body or can wind up being the cause of a miscarriage.

Please Note: Taking OTC melatonin-supplements are not the answer. Speak with your doctor before adding any supplement to your diet. Plus, some research indicates that melatonin supplements may be harmful to fetal development.

Shift-workers have more problems with infertility. Given the above information, it’s not surprising that shift workers have higher numbers of reproductive problems, including issues with infertility. Women who work night shifts suffer more frequently with hormonal imbalances, lower estrogen levels, difficulty conceiving and higher miscarriage rates than their counterparts who work hours that are more normal. To combat this, some employers are altering their nighttime lighting accordingly. However, if you have struggled to conceive and you work night or swing shifts, it is in your best interest to discuss this research with your employer and make adjustments to your schedule if at all possible.

Sleep deprivation affect FSH levels. If you are embarking down the Assisted Reproductive Technology road, you know all about FSH levels. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) controls the menstrual cycle and (ideally) is at its highest levels right before a woman ovulates. Studies that track women’s sleeping habits have drawn a correlation between the average hours a woman sleeps each night and her FSH levels. Women who average a healthy amount of sleep each night (about 7 – 9 hours) had FSH levels as much as 20% higher than women who averaged six or fewer hours per night. This relationship existed regardless of the women’s ages or BMI.

Don’t let something as simple as an affinity for late night TV or a potentially changeable work schedule prevent you from having the pregnancy you want. Make the necessary changes to establish a healthy sleep pattern and get your circadian – and hormonal – rhythm back on track.

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Being diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is both a blessing and a curse. What’s the blessing, you may wonder? Well, consider yourself fortunate that you have a doctor or medical professional who recognized the symptoms and connected the dots. All too often, women with PCOS are never diagnosed and, therefore, never get the treatment they need to balance their symptoms or work towards a happy and healthy conception.pcos2

The curse, of course, is that PCOS is a bit of a mystery syndrome, even though it’s the most common endocrine disorder affecting women of childbearing age (as many as 20% of women may have PCOS). Many of the more traditional treatments involved prescription hormone medications and, while they are often effective, they can come with side effects of their own. There are also natural remedies that have been shown to provide relief from the symptoms of PCOS, which include things like irregular or nonexistent periods, thinning hair, abnormal hair growth on the face and other parts of the body, acne, ovarian cysts, obesity and recurrent miscarriages.

Have You Been Diagnosed With PCOS? Try These Natural Ways for Relieving the Symptoms

There are things you can do and lifestyle changes you can make to help mitigate the less fortunate symptoms of PCOS. Because insulin-resistance often goes hand-in-hand with PCOS, dietary changes are the first step to help balance your blood sugar levels and reduce your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes.

  1. Balance your proteins and carbs. When your proteins and carbohydrates are in balance, it’s easier for your body to keep your blood sugar levels in check. When blood sugars are in check, so too are your insulin levels and this increases your chances of fertility. Try to only consume whole-grain and sprouted breads and snacks and stay away from the processed carbs as much as possible.
  2. Shoot for low-glycemic sweeteners. Different sugars have a different effect on your body and its insulin production. Everyone should try to use sweeteners with that register low on the glycemic index, but it’s especially important for women with PCOS. Refined sugars, like the white sugar used in just about everything as well as corn-based sweeteners, play havoc on our pancreases. You are much better off using sweeteners like stevia, xylitol and agave syrup. We don’t recommend using fake/synthetic sweeteners because the health verdict is still out on those.
  3. Cut your caffeine intake. It turns out that women who drink two or more cups of coffee per day have significantly higher levels of estrogen in their bodies (upwards of 70% more!) during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. With PCOS, you are already battling hormonal issues at this phase of the game so you don’t want to contribute to the problem. This may be a time to switch to nominal amounts of caffeine per day, or cut it out entirely. Plus, too much caffeine isn’t good for your developing fetus so you might as well kick the habit now.
  4. Eat organic foods. Environmental toxins are also thought to be a reason why PCOS is increasingly common. Pesticides are a major contributing factor for fertility issues in both women and men. Do yourself and your partner’s sperm a favor by eating foods that are pesticide-free. Along those lines, your higher-protein diet (see #1) means you may be consuming more meat than usual. Invest in hormone-free animal products to give your body a chance to get its own hormone levels in check. Most commercial meat and dairy products are laden with estrogen, which is given to animals to make them grow bigger faster and/or produce more milk. It’s not good for them, and it’s not good for you.
  5. Exercise at least five times a week. There are so many reasons why exercising regularly is a good idea, even before we get into its effects on PCOS. However, exercise is particularly important for women with PCOS. Both cardio and resistance workouts are valuable so incorporate them both. However, resistance exercises seem to have a more positive effect on insulin sensitivity. Your goal should be at least a 30-minute workout, five times per week. Exercising will boost your metabolism, help you lose weight and make you feel great in the meantime.

If you think you have PCOS and are ready to try getting pregnant, schedule a consultation with a fertility specialist to chart your course of action. The sooner you begin making valuable changes to your diet and lifestyle, the more likely you will be to have a successful conception.

Image Source: fargomedicalweightloss.com

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