There are some great ways to nurture our reproductive health and sleep is one of them!
What If I Miss Out on Sleep?
Missing out on sleep is essentially a stress on the body. This can lead to numerous disruptions in homeostasis, affecting hormones that control our internal body clocks and our physiology, such as how we regulate blood sugar.
Sleep duration positively correlates with testosterone concentrations in males and sticking to a regular sleep cycle balances out hormones such as oestrogen, luteinising hormone and follicle stimulating hormone in females.
Disrupted or inadequate sleep is not great news for fertility. Compared to men getting 8 hours of sleep a night, those sleeping less than 6 hours have a 40% reduced chance of pregnancy. In female shift workers menstrual cycle irregularities are very common and cycle irregularities can reduce fertility.
A key health impacts of missing out on sleep is metabolic disturbance. Missing out on sleep can have more of an impact on weight gain than a high fat diet! Insulin helps regulate glucose and if we miss out on sleep insulin doesn’t do its job as effectively which means sugar cravings and weight gain.
How Can my Gut Control Sleep?
Our transition to sleep is controlled within our brain but did you know that your gut microbiota can communicate with your brain? If you have a healthy, diverse gut microbiota levels of gut inflammation are lower and this has been shown to promote sleep.
When your gut microbota are out of balance, levels of inflammation are higher and this can hinder sleep.
A more diverse gut microbiota is positively correlated with increased sleep efficiency and total sleep time, and reduced sleep fragmentation. This means that you get to sleep quicker once your head hits the pillow, you wake less, and that because you are falling asleep quicker for the same time in bed, you get more hours sleeping.
Tips for Better Sleep
Better sleep is just a few steps away!
1. Routine: Aim to keep your bedtime the same each evening and avoid wake up times that are no more than one hour past your usual wake time. If you feel as though you need a two hour sleep in on the weekend you are most likely not getting enough sleep during the week so plan to adopt some weekday strategies that can improve your sleep habits.
2. Avoid light exposure in the evening: Where possible use night shift mode on your phone / computer if using it in the evening. The best approach though is to avoid screens for one hour before bed.
3. Avoid stimulants in the evening: That includes black caffeinated tea, any caffeinated beverage like coffee or cola and chocolate for ~4 hours prior to bed.
4. Exercise: getting in daily activity really promotes sleep so experiment with the best time of day to exercise for you.
5.Nurture your gut microbiota for greater diversity. Prebiotics have been shown to boost the production of neuroactive metabolites by your gut microbiota to improve sleep and stress resilience.
Adopt these strategies and you can look forward to waking up rested and ready for the day, with a Fertile Gut!