Fertility and sleep

A good diet is essential for everyday life but even more so when you are looking to conceive. 1 in 7 couples now state that they have had trouble conceiving, the most common issue is ovulatory issues, with PCOS and endometriosis  sited as common reasons and 25% have unexplained infertility.

The three main nutrients that you should include in your diet are Folic acid, Iodine and Vitamin D.  This is one stage of life where supplements over food may be recommended.

Folic acid which is needed to prevent neurological tube defects, the normal dose would be around 400-500 micrograms per day.  Women in the ‘at risk group’, which includes those with a family history of neurological tube defects, those with a BMI of over 30, and individuals with diabetes or bi-polar disorder.

Iodine individuals with low iodine have been found to be at a greater risk of miscarriage, abnormalities after birth and children with lower IQ’s

Vitamin D – low levels of vitamin D have been seen in pregnant women that have gone on to develop pre eclampsia or gestational diabetes.

As with all supplements, it is advisable to check the dose and any interactions with medication before you start  taking them.

One further supplement that is currently being researched with fertility in both men and women is coenzyme Q10, studies have shown in older women CoQ10 improves ovulation rate and in women with PCOS.  Q10 also improves male fertility, in one study supplementation showed a significant improvement in sperm fertility both in density and motility.

Other factors

Other factors that effect fertility also include weight, both under and over weight, caffeine (not just in coffee, teas -green tea, cola), alcohol and smoking, together with environmental  exposure.  Some environmental exposures have an effect on the endocrine system and effect the hormones in both men and women, plastics are one big factor so its advisable to drink out of glass rather than plastic bottle, wash fresh produce throughly before using.


Sleep and good quality sleep is essential for many regulations that our bodies need to function optimally.

While in its early days the effect of sleep on fertility is now being studied, according to the sleep council 

  • 74%  of Brits have less than 7 hours sleep per night
  • 12% sleep for less than  hours
  • The average sleep duration is 5-7 hours
  • Men appear to have a better quality sleep than women
  • 51% are kept awake due to worry/ stress
  • 29% blame their partners

In individuals that had trouble conceiving  it was found that 35% undergoing IVF experienced sleep disturbances before treatment.

The main hormones in the menstrual cycle that are important to conception are Oestrogen,  Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and out Luteinizing Hormone (LH), sleep disturbance can effect these hormone levels. In a study of older women it was found a decreased level of oestrogen in women who had poor sleep. Lower levels of oestrogen effects the regulation of both FSH and LH which are needed for egg release.   Studies of shift workers also found that there  was a link between conception levels and occupation, during a study of over 1000 nurses it didn’t matter if they worked nights or day shifts it was the irregular pattern of work that effected the hormone levels.

How can we improve our sleep

Reduce blue light – blue light glasses can be worn especially for those working in call centres and trying to sleep shortly after finishing work

Ensure you see some bright light during the day, particularly during the day, this will help reset your circadian rhythm.

Reduce stress levels, the higher your stress levels the higher the risk of insomnia

Practice deep breathing, deep breathing has been found to improve mood, reduce stress and reduce heart rate.

Exercise , many people due to the stress of the day feel extremely tired but in most cases they are mentally tired and not physically tired.  Though this is not a quick fix the individuals that found exercise beneficial had to exercise for at least 16 weeks before they saw any benefit.

Increase foods that contain Tryptophan, tryptophan is inverted in the body to serotonin which helps sleep and can also improve symptoms of anxiety  and depression.  You can purchase Tryptophan supplements but these should be used only under medical advise due to potential side effects and interactions with other medication.

Recent studies have also shown that tart cherry may increase melatonin levels and improve sleep efficiency.

For Further information on a diet review package for preconception and pregnancy please contact Susan.



Copyright – Susan Monk 2018.