By Leah Hechtman

A recent report from the Sleep Health Foundation found that more than half of adult Aussies suffer from at least one chronic sleep symptom, including trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking too early and not being able to get back to sleep.

We know that sleep plays an important role in our lives. But have you ever thought about how sleep relates to fertility?

We spoke to Australia’s leading fertility expert, Leah Hechtman to find out.

The link between fertility and sleep

When we sleep, a number of hormone pathways are activated directly (such as melatonin) and indirectly (such as estrogen, testosterone and progesterone), which are important for conception.

One study has found that sleep deprivation in women increases the amount of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), one of the most important female hormones responsible for preparing the ovaries to release the eggs.

In men, one week of fewer than five hours of sleep at night has been shown to decreases testosterone levels by 10 to 15 percent, which reduces male’s chance of conception by 31 percent as most of the testosterone release in men occurs at night.

Insomnia is highly prevalent in couples struggling to conceive. Repeated disappointment or failed attempts to get pregnant may cause an increase in the psychosocial distress associated with infertility.

A lack of sleep can decrease a man’s testosterone levels.

Managing stress and sleep to support fertility

Sleep deprivation and stress are known factors that can affect energy levels. Couple’s experiencing infertility are understandably under significant stress, and in turn these high levels of stress affect the levels of Ubiquinol in our mitochondria (an antioxidant produced by the body that assists in the synthesis of Adenosine triphosphate or ATP, the energy that our cells use).

Our mitochondria, or otherwise known as the powerhouse of our cells, play an important role in energy production and reproductive health.

Research also indicates that mitochondrial health influences female fertility. Sadly, mitochondria levels decrease with chronic stress and aging.

Fertility expert, Leah Hectman says insomnia is highly prevalent in couples struggling to conceive.

Our body’s Ubiquinol levels naturally decline as we age, peaking at approximately 30 years of age. Whilst Ubiquinol is found in many foods, including oily fish, organ meats and whole grains, dietary intake is insufficient to meet the body’s demands. To help support the replenishment of your body’s natural Ubiquinol levels, you may wish to speak to a healthcare practitioner to find out if a supplement may be right for you.

Please seek advice from a healthcare practitioner to determine if supplementation is right for you. Always read the label.