Fertility

TTC – New Year Fertility Resolutions

Eloise Edington  |   28 Dec 2020


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Sleep is extremely important – not just for our physical well-being, but for our mental and emotional state too (like our sanity!). We need this time to recharge and refresh from the day’s extremes, as it is a period carved out for relaxation and peace. However this is not always the case for everyone, as for some, the idea of sleeping brings a whole new level of stress. There are people who spend endless nights laying wide awake, not able to get more than an hour of sleep, sometimes less.

This leads us to the topic of Insomnia, which is when you have the inability to fall asleep, or even just stay asleep for the whole night. When it comes to fertility help and dealing with the two week wait (2WW), Insomnia is a common problem. It is something that can either be the result of stress in regards to trying to conceive, or it could be a long-standing issue that then ends up causing complications within your fertility journey. This IVF blog will help to address the effects of insomnia, especially when it comes to infertility, and will provide a useful list of ways to help tackle it.

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How Does Insomnia Affect People?

Insomnia affects people differently according to the various types of sleeping problem. Many people don’t realise that there are different types, but these fall into five categories:

  1. Acute – This relates to stressful life events (like the two week wait (2WW) or difficulty when trying to conceive) that in turn cause brief periods where you end up having difficulty sleeping. It is the more common out of the five.

  2. Chronic – This relates to when you have difficulty sleeping at least three nights a week, for three months or longer.

  3. Comorbid – This is insomnia that occurs as a result of an additional condition, like for example anxiety, which has ended up leading to difficulty sleeping.

  4. Onset – Simply when you struggle to fall asleep at the start of the night.

  5. Maintenance – When you are unable to stay asleep. You may find yourself sleeping for a small amount of time, but then you wake up in the middle of the night and cannot fall asleep again.

Acute and Chronic fall into Secondary Insomnia, however there is also Primary Insomnia that relates to a disorder. It is not a symptom or a side effect of a medical condition, and it is something that is looked into only after ruling out Secondary Insomnia.

What causes insomnia varies. In relation to Primary Insomnia that was previously mentioned, the cause of it is widely unknown, and it can be lifelong. However, in regards to Secondary Insomnia, some causes not already mentioned include medical conditions like Arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and Asthma. There can also be trouble with hormones, heartburn, hot flushes as a result of Menopause and Cancer and the effects that come with that. Caffeine, tobacco and alcohol are commonly known as things that can affect your sleep: some of them may allow you to fall asleep fast, but they in turn cause disrupted sleep. Pregnancy is also a main cause of insomnia due to different reasons: for example, in regards to your gut health and need for fertility help when trying to conceive, and also more minor problems like discomfort and leg cramps.

Apart from the obvious symptoms of insomnia, like struggling to fall or stay asleep, other symptoms may include: irritability and depression; not feeling well rested after a night’s sleep after maybe having a lot on your mind; increased errors or accidents; ongoing worries about sleep and difficulty paying attention. It is advised to contact a doctor when it reaches a point where you are unable to function properly during the day as your lack of sleep is negatively affecting you. There are sleep centres that you could be referred to by your doctor if they feel that you may have a sleep disorder.

Related Article – Fertility and The Mind – The Truth

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How Does Insomnia Affect Those Struggling With Infertility?

The specific question of whether lack of sleep can cause infertility has been speculated. The answer to this question is that lack of sleep could cause issues when it comes to your fertility journey. One of the main causes is in relation to your hormones. In both men and women, sleep-wake hormones are in the same part of the brain as your reproductive hormones. Therefore, even though at the moment not much is known yet about whether lack of sleep can actually cause you to be infertile, it is suspected that the hormones that trigger ovulation in women could possibly be tied to the body’s sleep patterns. There are also some additional unforeseen ways that link together your sleep and fertility, like for example a change in mood as a result of lack of sleep. This could affect your relationship with your partner if you are constantly at their throat because you are so exhausted. This would then result in fewer opportunities to get pregnant.

Related Article – How Infertility has Rocked these Women’s Romantic Relationships; and How Communication has Improved Them

Then there is an increased risk of diseases like diabetes as a result of lack of sleep, and this could put a spanner in the works when it comes to your fertility. If you’re struggling to sleep during the two week wait (2WW), make sure you try and force yourself to get at least eight hours of sleep a night. Try and spend some time outdoors, whether it’s walking the dog or popping to the supermarket, any amount of time will help. There are many ways to help combat lack of sleep and hopefully this fertility blog article will improve your situation and help you see light at the end of the tunnel (fingers crossed!)

But can too much sleep cause infertility? Not a lot has been said on this specifically, however there is a key factor in everyone’s normal sleep routine that can have a negative effect on your quality of sleep. What is the elusive culprit you may ask? It’s using your phone or TV as a nightlight (shocker!). There are new studies that show that being exposed to certain light during the night can increase your risk of infertility and affect your well-being. This, yet again, links to hormones. Melatonin is located in the same area of the brain as your vision centres, therefore when your eyes see darkness, your melatonin assumes that it’s the night and speeds up its production. So, too much light in effect does the opposite and slows it down at the key moment it should be speeding up. This then can lead to insomnia, and can wreak havoc on your female reproductive hormones.

What about sleeping tablets? As there are a variety of things such as fibroids, excessive weight, gut health…etc. that can affect fertility, what about specific medicines? While it has been said that medicines, like sleeping tablets, can alter ovulation by effecting the production of certain hormones (the Follicle Stimulating Hormone and the Luteinizing Hormone), in addition to this medication can also affect the time it takes for one’s body to recover after it has stopped. The best advice would be to try to be on as little medication as possible, to do your research on options and so ease your mind. As, when it comes to your fertility journey, the most important thing for you is knowing that you are doing all you can to move forward instead of backwards. Fertility coaching can help to support you in your journey and can also provide different decisions, like for example alternative medicines and approaches.

Related Article – Infertility Counselling – 10 Ways an Infertility Counsellor Can Help Through Infertility Trauma

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A List Of Ways To Help Tackle Insomnia:

There is always a solution and a way to help tackle your insomnia. This IVF blog article is not only about providing you with the background and additional knowledge on a topic you may not know a lot about, but is also here to help you to overcome your problems. Here is a list of solutions that you may want to try out:

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule – Waking up and going to bed at the same time each night can really help if you have struggle sleeping.

  2. Keep track of your naps – If you sleep a lot during the day, you will struggle to fall asleep during the night. So keep tabs on this and try to limit it where possible.

  3. Exercise – This is a really important one, as exercise not only helps with insomnia but also in your fertility journey. However of course, try not to do it straight before bed as that could have the opposite effect.

  4. Avoid eating and drinking before bed – This is important in regards to your gut health, as eating late can activate your digestive system and in turn end up keeping you awake.

  5. Limit stress – There are a range of apps and relaxation techniques that you can do before bed that will limit the stress you may feel, which will then allow you to be more relaxed and get a better night’s sleep.

Related Article – 2WW – 7 Must Do’s to Survive Your Two Week Wait During IVF

P.S. Did you know we have a brand new Community App, Fertility Squad? Sign up here to meet other like-minded warriors who are trying to conceive, as well as mentors who have been there and got the t-shirt.

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