Sleep. You know, that elusive activity everyone wants but cannot get enough of. Some of you might not even remember the last time you got a good nights sleep. For me personally, I am a total wreck if I do not get at least 8 hours of sleep. Less than 8 and you better make sure I have my coffee ASAP as soon as my feet hit the bedroom floor. Getting a good nights rest should be a priority for everyone, but it should be a HUGE priority if you are trying to get pregnant. Ladies, it is time to put sleep front and center, and make it a #1 goal to get into a good sleep routine. It could be the one activity stopping you from getting pregnant.
So what is the big deal? How does sleep effect fertility? In Chinese medicine, night time is the time of yin. Yin is dark, reflective and restorative. It is a time our bodies slow down from the day, and transition into a state of relaxation. We have the quality of yin inside our own bodies, and this yin must be nourished and maintained so you can conceive a baby. In order for yin to be properly nourished, we need to get a good nights sleep. Getting a good nights sleep will nourish Heart and Kidney yin in particular, two important organ systems in Traditional Chinese Medicine. A quick note: heart and kidney are different in Chinese medicine, than western medicine. When I talk about organ systems, I am talking about the energetic and physical aspect of a Chinese medicine organ system. Yin is very important for fertility and is strongest during the first half of the cycle. The energy of yin is responsible for building healthy follicles and regulating healthy estrogen levels. Yin and yang are constantly transitioning throughout the day, in our lives, and in our bodies. When yin is depleted, symptoms like afternoon fatigue, night sweats, and hot flashes in the evening occur. Depleted yin can also dry out important fluids, such as cervical mucous, which is important for conception.
Modern medicine has shown us that the quality and quantity of sleep is important. Sleep is a time when our bodies repair, and regulate. Sleep influences our sex hormones, sperm production, and ovulation. Sleep is also a time when our immune system cleans up inflammation and it has a huge effect on our mood, stress, and insulin levels. Studies have shown women who get less than 8 hours of sleep increases their chances of miscarriage, and experience irregular and erratic periods. Lack of sleep can slump sperm production, and slow down metabolism, which may cause a difficulty is losing weight. Lastly, chronic sleep issues lower your immune system, increase inflammation which can directly effect implantation of the embryo and placental development.
Ok, so how do we call get a good nights sleep? Nourish Yin. I want you, right now, to make it a priority to get a good nights sleep. You can do this by first setting up a good sleep routine. A sleep routine will allow you to create a healthy habit that will stick while nourishing the yin inside you, and all around you. Here are some great ideas you can use to set up a great sleep routine that fits with your family and lifestyle.
1. Turn off all electronics two hours before you go to bed. If you like to read, do so with a hard copy of a book and not an electronic device like a nook or ipad.
2. take a nice hot relaxing shower or bath, use essential oils like lavender to enhance the experience
3. drink some hot tea that is relaxing such as camimille, and avoid caffeine or sugary drinks
4. do not eat after 7 pm
5. begin a 10 minutes relaxation meditation including deep breathing and gentle stretching
6. take a magnesium supplement before bed
7. get yourself ear plugs or an eye pillow to block out unwanted sounds and light
8. purchase an essential oil diffuser and fill with sleep blends or lavender
Nourishing our yin by getting a good amount of sleep is so important for fertility. Start a good sleep routine and get some shut eye!