• Fertility’s Dependence on Sleep

    by Lauren King, PsyD
    on Nov 21st, 2017

Fertility’s Dependence on Sleep


By Lauren King, PsyD


Sleep is recognized as an essential part of women’s health and well-being, particularly related to the menstrual cycle, reproduction, and menopause. Over 3 million women in the United States have difficulties getting pregnant (Chandra, Copen & Stephen, 2013). Fertility experts believe there is a link between sleep and fertility but the exact relationship is uncertain. There are, however, a number of factors known to be associated with this theory.


Researchers speculate that fertility is not only linked to amount of sleep but also to our natural sleep rhythms, known as circadian rhythms. One way we know this is there is evidence that shift workers experience changes in fertility-related hormones (Kloss et al., 2015). Increased negative outcomes, including difficulties with conception, miscarriages, and irregular periods, are observed in shift workers compared to non-shift workers. Melatonin, our body’s natural sleep hormone, is also related to fertility. Shift workers are awake at night and obtain more light exposure during non-natural times. These workers are more likely to have decreased melatonin, probably because they are not exposed to as much natural light.


There are other known hormonal changes related to too much or too little sleep. With a significant decrease in sleep often comes an increase in thyroid stimulating hormone and decrease in progesterone which are both associated with increased risk of infertility. Anxiety and depression are also known to negatively affect sleep in a number of ways. Thus, emotional difficulties can also lead to fertility issues.  Treatment of anxiety and depression are highly recommended before trying to conceive.


Eight to 9 hours of sleep per night is suggested by experts to increase fertility. If you are interested in discussing your sleep difficulties with a trained professional, contact Bluepoint Medical Associates today at 703-385-8222.




Chandra, A., Copen, C.E., Stephen, E.H. (2013). Infertility and Impaired Fecundity in the United States, 1982–2010: Data from the National Survey of Family Growth. National Health Statistics Reports; no 67. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.

Kloss, J. D., Perlis, M., Zamzow, J., Culnan, E., & Gracia, C. (2015). Sleep, Sleep Disturbance and Fertility in Women. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 22, 78–87.



Author Lauren King, PsyD Licensed Clinical Psychologist, CBT-I Provider

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