We all need it to survive, but very few of us feel that we get enough of it on a consistent basis. What are we talking about? Sleep.
You know you feel more alert, energetic, and ready to take on the day ahead after a good night’s rest. But a solid 8 hours of sleep may feel like a pipedream in our hectic, fast-paced society. We know we should aim for 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep per night, but it can be difficult to make rest be a priority when there’s so much else to be done. Particularly when you’re undergoing fertility treatments, getting enough sleep can feel like just one more item on the “to do” list.
Why sleep matters
Beyond the advantage of waking up feeling refreshed and motivated to take on the day, research has shown that a lack of sleep is linked to health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Part of this may be due to the fact that sleep-deprived people also tend to have less energy to make health-conscious decisions, and exhaustion may lead to seeking out simple carbohydrates like candy for a quick energy boost.
Sometimes the insomnia-stress cycle can seem endless: when you’re experiencing stress, anxiety can keep you staring at the ceiling for hours. But being deprived of sleep can also cause higher levels of stress, which can lead to more sleeplessness!
Experiencing stress is very common when you’re facing the challenges that come with infertility, and it can be difficult to make sleep a priority when you have so much on your mind. While current research is inconclusive about a connection between stress and fertility, we do know that anything you can do to boost your general wellbeing can also help your fertility.
Here are a few things you can do to get more rest despite the uncertainty of infertility.
Ways to optimize your sleep and care for your health
Here are a few steps you can implement to make your sleep as restful and rejuvenating as possible.
- Wake up at the same time each day. Though it may seem counterintuitive, waking up at the same time each morning (yes, even on weekends!) can help “reset” your internal clock so that you know you’ll be tired when bedtime arrives.
- Incorporate regular movement into your day. One of the many benefits of exercise is that it can lead to more restful sleep. It’s ideal if you can schedule your workout earlier in the day so that your body has time to wind down a bit before bed, though.
- Limit caffeine. Caffeine, while safe in moderation while trying to conceive, can keep you awake much later than intended if you consume it too late in the day. If you find yourself having difficulty sleeping after drinking coffee, tea, or eating chocolate, try to limit these treats to earlier in the day. (Limiting caffeine consumption to before lunchtime or early afternoon is usually sufficient.)
- Cut back on the bedtime snacks. Try to stop eating about 2 hours before you’d like to go to sleep. This gives your digestive system a chance to settle down for the evening and can also cut back on heartburn or indigestion that can keep you awake.
- Limit screens before bed. Make it a goal to unplug from your devices about an hour before lights out. Artificial blue light inhibits the production of melatonin, an important sleep hormone, which can keep you awake much longer than you had planned!
- Find a calming evening ritual. Since you’re not checking social media or reading one last chapter on your e-reader, find some activities that you find relaxing to help you settle in for the night. This could include journaling, a warm bubble bath, some gentle stretching, or meditation.
- Keep your bedroom cool and dark. You can hang room darkening blinds in your windows if street lights keep you awake. A little bit of ambient noise such as a fan can help to cover up any sounds from traffic and other disturbances outside. Keeping your bedroom at a cool, comfortable temperature is also more conducive to sleep. (Most experts recommend a temperature between 60 and 68 degrees.)
- Make your bed your “sacred space.” As tempting as it may be to try to catch up on email or take business calls from the comfort of your bed, this can form an association in your mind between your bed and your work. Find another place to check your laptop, even if it’s just a chair beside the bed, and try to limit your in-bed activities to sleep and sex.
Do you struggle with keeping a regular sleep routine due to stress from your busy life, anxiety related to fertility treatments, or any other roadblocks to healthy sleep? Contact us today to set up a consultation with Dr. Salem to discuss how we can help you!