Fertility & Sleep – with Dr. Jane Levesque
More and more couples struggle with infertility each day, and studies show that this number will only go up.
Now, you might wonder why we, as sleep experts, are talking about infertility.
Because sleep and fertility are closely connected.
This is also the reason why I decided to welcome Dr. Jane Levesque to our Sleep Like a Boss Podcast. This is one of my favourite conversations to date. Have a listen via the link above or watch our chat on YouTube.
Dr. Jane is a Naturopathic Doctor who specializes in fertility. Her mission is to help high-achieving women feel confident and in control of their fertility journeys.
In her 6+ years of industry experience, Dr. Jane has helped 100’s of couples optimize their health and prepare their bodies for pregnancy, which allowed them to get pregnant naturally, have complication-free pregnancies and give birth to healthy babies.
Why is infertility on the rise?
If we look at our society today, more and more of us are overweight, more and more of us struggle with anxiety or depression, our hormones are out of balance, and we have more and more autoimmune conditions and chronic health conditions in general. To put it simply - we’re getting unhealthier.
Now, this might be hard to hear for some, but there is a very big connection between our overall health and our fertility potential.
And in Dr. Jane's view, the foundational aspect of getting healthier is getting quality sleep.
Sleep and Infertility
So, how does our sleep affect fertility?
The most important factor to understand is cortisol dysregulation.
Cortisol is our stress hormone and when we don't sleep enough, our body automatically starts to produce more cortisol. More cortisol puts us in a 'fight-or-flight' state - a constant state of stress the body is in.
And in this state, our reproductive system tends to shut down. Pregnancy is the hardest thing the female body will ever go through. It's a stress on the system and in this already stressed state, our body only wants to decrease the amount of stress. It doesn't feel safe enough to think about reproducing.
Also, when we're not sleeping well, our blood sugar gets dysregulated and this affects our ability to get pregnant and stay pregnant.
Lack of quality sleep also impacts our sex hormones.
Our progesterone and our estrogen start to mess with ovulation causing a so-called 'luteal phase defect', where the second half of the menstrual cycle, which happens after ovulation, is shorter than seven days. This doesn't give the egg the opportunity to properly implant in the uterus.
Or, in another case, if the progesterone isn't high enough, the implantation can happen, but you're going to experience recurring pregnancy loss.
This is why sleep is important. It’s like pressing the reset button.
And if you don't have that reset button, you're constantly just turning up that dial more and more. You remain in the 'fight or flight' state and conceiving is not a priority for your body.
Embrace The Yin
Dr. Jane talks about the Yin and Yang of our society.
The Yang is where our society is now aka the hustle culture. The Yin is what we need aka the rest.
Currently, we all experience a lot of imbalance in our society and we need to learn how to achieve that balance again.
When a woman is getting ready to reproduce, she needs to snap more into that Yin state and become in tune with it and stay in it.
In fact, according to Dr. Jane, most women who struggle with infertility, are high-functioning females: CEOs, athletes, nurses, etc.
Women who have a lot of stress and a lot of responsibility and who are in that Yang role.
If you want your body to build and create life, then you need to give it enough rest and sleep for that growth hormone to do its job.
Dr. Jane encourages you to think of your health as a house.
You're building your house. The first thing you need is a foundation. Then you need good building materials. The foundation is actually your sleep, and the good building materials are your nutrition and your digestion. And then you add smaller pieces like exercise, and meditation, to give your house its personal touch.
Finding the Root Cause
Like with every issue, fixing our sleep starts with identifying the root cause.
Whether that’s an HPA axis dysregulation (often referred to as "adrenal fatigue"), stress, environmental toxins, your gut, your hormones or something else, identifying and addressing the root cause is the starting point.
And it’s not going to be easy, life is never easy. If it was really easy, you would get bored.
Making changes to our health and life can feel difficult and intimidating.
But, as Dr. Jane points out, no one is going to do this for us, we have to take our health into our own hands and take action.
And a way to make this easier and set you up for success is by seeking help from professionals like Dr. Jane. Professionals who are specialized in the health issue you are trying to address.
If you are interested in learning more, connect with Dr. Jane on Instagram and Facebook, and join her free Facebook group Dr. Jane's Natural Fertility Support Group. She also has a fertility one-on-one program, that's for anybody who is thinking about getting pregnant in the next 3 to 12 months, so make sure you give it a look!