(By Dr Sagarika Agarwal, IVF Expert, Indira IVF Hospital, New Delhi)
Sleeping too little or too much can affect a man's ability to impregnate his partner. The best time to rest is 7-8 hours and if the duration is less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours per night, the probability of making their partner conceive reduces.
In any given month, men who slept less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours per night had a 42% reduced probability of conception.
“A strong association with sleep seems to have an impact on male fertility and snoring may be the first signs. Men who suffer disturbed sleep had sperm counts equal to only 70% compared to those who slept normal and are less likely to impregnate their partner. Testosterone is crucial for reproduction and the majority of daily testosterone release in men occurs during sleep. Total sleep time, in turn, has been positively linked with testosterone levels. Those who suffered disturbed sleep with less than six hours a night also had lower sperm quality and smaller testicles. Poor sleep interferes with the body's ability to produce sperm.”
Snoring most nights and feeling excessively sleepy during the day are classic signs of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). Snoring affects twice as many men as women. It occurs when the soft tissue in your nose and throat vibrates when you sleep. Being overweight, drinking a lot of alcohol, smoking and allergies are all triggers. This means the person stops breathing for 10 seconds or more at a time, several times a night. Over time this can cause heart problems and even stroke.
Infertility is a widespread problem. A man’s fertility generally relies on the quantity and quality of his sperm. If the number of sperm a man ejaculates is low or if the sperm are of a poor quality, it will be difficult, and sometimes impossible, for him to cause a pregnancy.
Out of 20% of infertile couples the problem lies solely in the male partner and 5% of them have some kind of fertility problem with low numbers of sperm in his ejaculate. However, only 1% suffers from azoospermia – no sperm in his ejaculate.
It is difficult to diagnose male infertility without medical tests as there are no obvious signs. There will be no difficulty in intercourse, erection and ejaculations and even the quantity and appearance of the semen looks normal. Through medical testing, the doctor may be able to find the cause of the problem.
Male infertility is usually caused by problems that affect either sperm production or sperm transport. Poor sleep for more than 3 weeks may cause lower sperm count, deformity in shape and deteriorate its mobility About 70%of infertile men have a problem with making sperm in the testes. Either low numbers of sperm are made or the sperm that are made do not work properly.
Sperm transport problems are found in the rest 30% of them. Blockages (often referred to as obstructions) in the tubes leading sperm away from the testes to the penis can cause a complete lack of sperm in the ejaculated semen.
It is possible that poor sleep duration could contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle, decreased libido, a decrease in sex. Appropriate sleep hours (between 7 to 9 hours) helps to optimize men’s fertility and their chances of contributing to a pregnancy. Eating more fruits and vegetables yields better production of sperm than meats and fats. Men who are at a healthy weight generally have better fertility, too.