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Erratic sleep schedules may delay pregnancy

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Erratic sleep schedules may delay pregnancy

Researchers from the United States (US) said women hoping to start a family will conceive sooner if they stuck to a regular bedtime. According to the findings of a new study which was presented at the conference of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), women conceived quickest if they went to bed at the same time, give or take an hour, every night.

The ASRM conference held in Denver, Colorado in the U.S from October 6 to10. Lead author, Dr. Emily Jungheim, an obstetrics and gynaecologist, said although, these findings would hardly inspire a global bedtime reset, it could be factored into advice for women who want to start a family. Previous studies showed that nurses with erratic work schedules had higher risks of preterm birth, she was stunned by how strong the connection was. “We don’t think about sleep as being that important,” said Jungheim. According to her, couples trying to conceive would be ‘willing to try anything’ – but sleep rarely factors into their get-fit-forfertility plans.

“They eliminate alcohol and caffeine and fix their diet, but we found the only thing that anyone is willing to scrimp on – both men and women – is sleep. They don’t even think about it,” but that was starting to change. The ‘Mailonline’ reported that the study was the first to show a link between sleep patterns and female fertility, partly because it was so hard to measure.

Previous studies show that beyond its short-term effects, inadequate sleep affects overall health in a number of ways. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, and depression have all been linked to inadequate sleep. The researchers at Washington University in St Louis developed smart watches that would track their rest, while giving scientists access to the raw data. The results, from 176 participants, showed a clear correlation between sleep patterns and the time it took to conceive. It has been shown that humans, animals and even plants adapt to the nightday schedule of wherever they are on the earth, and sticking to that rhythm is key to avoid adverse health issues.

Similarly, night shifts and poor sleep are linked to increased risks of breast cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more, but sleeping patterns of humans have derailed because these days, there is increased demand for services round the clock, and people to man those services – or at least answer the calls. ‘People don’t work nine to five anymore. They might have three different jobs,’ Dr Jungheim said, adding that humans were learning more and more that the timing of sleep actually matters. “We have these circadian genes. Erratic sleep patterns increase your risk of diabetes and menses, and that affects ovulation.” Seventy-five of the 176 women in the study were pregnant by the end of the year, most of them white, with a higher income and a lower body mass index (BMI). But after adjusting for all other factors, the researchers found sleep to be a deciding factor. Women trying to conceive who went to bed around the same time every night – give or take an hour either way – took the least time to do get pregnant.

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