Low sperm count has been an issue for men for years, but it’s becoming a more and more common reality in recent years.
While many different factors contribute to low sperm count, including stress levels and drug use, one of the more unknown influences is sleep. Or, rather, lack thereof.
Sleep and Sperm Count
Studies have found that disrupted circadian rhythms can lower sperm quality and count. A circadian rhythm, or the cycle of biochemical processes within our bodies, is most commonly altered by poor sleeping habits. This connection between interrupted internal clocks and decreased sperm count has been shown in night shift workers who maintain strange sleep schedules. Men in this group have been found to have a lower sperm count than men who work and sleep normal hours.
While there haven’t been many studies on the impact of circadian rhythms on human sperm count, a recent study on animals found that a disruption in these patterns can lower sperm count by 70 percent.
Disturbed circadian rhythms aren’t the only connection between sleep and sperm numbers, however. It is also believed that low-quality sleep lowers testosterone levels, the hormone vital to producing sperm.
Either too much, or too little sleep can impair sperm count. Surprisingly, however, oversleeping has been found to have the most impact on sperm count. In fact, a 2016 study found that sleeping more than nine hours a night can lead to a 39 percent drop in sperm count.
Why should we be concerned?
A low sperm count is one of the largest causes of male infertility. A low sperm number can make it harder to conceive and extend the amount of time it takes to get pregnant.
It isn’t just a fertility concern, however. Low sperm counts can also be an indicator of poor overall health. Studies have found a correlation between lower sperm count and an increased risk of heart and bone density problems, as well as a higher chance of being overweight. Similarly, low sperm count may also be connected with a higher risk of developing testicular cancer.
How to Get Better Sleep
Outfit your bedroom: Cater your bedroom to meet your own sleep needs. If you wake up sweating, try a mattress that stays cool throughout the night. Or, if you snore, invest in firm pillows to keep your head propped up. Listen to your body and adapt your sleeping environment accordingly to improve your sleep.
Stick to your schedule: Keeping a consistent sleep schedule is necessary, as well. You should be maintaining your bedtime, even on the weekends, and sleep between 7-9 hours a night.
Avoid LED light: Be sure to limit your use of electronics close to bedtime. The artificial light can prevent the release of the sleep hormone, melatonin, and make it much harder for you to fall asleep. If you must use electronics, try to wear LED-blocking glasses to protect your sleep cycle.