We’ve all done it- you’re having trouble falling asleep, so you open up your phone. Maybe you couldn’t help but check what notification arrived as your phone lit up the darkness. Or, maybe you’re keeping an eye on your Twitter feed the night of that dramatic season finale. Or else, maybe you find it relaxing to watch a calming Youtube video on a restless night. No harm no foul, right?
Well, it turns out that using our devices before bed isn’t so harmless after all. Surprisingly, device usage before bed can negatively impact male fertility. In a new study from the Assuta Medical Center in Tel-Aviv, Israel, scientists found a correlation between low sperm quality and self-reported exposure to devices before bed. This exposure resulted in lower sperm concentration, motility, and progressive motility.
In terms of why these activities were linked to worse sperm quality, the answer turns out to be due to sleep. The same study from the Assuta Medical Center found that longer sleep is directly correlated to greater sperm quality. Men who reported a longer sleep duration were found to have had a higher sperm total, and a greater progressive motility.
So, if you’re trying to conceive, it’s a good idea to get plenty of rest. The best sleep will be a combination of quantity and quality. In terms of quantity, 7-8 hours a night is recommended for adults 18 years or older. In order to maximize quality, you’ll want to cut back on how long you’re using those devices. Yep- studies have shown that our gadgets can still worsen sleep quality even if you technically get the right number of hours! Experts recommend that you spend at least 30 device-free minutes before bed for optimal sleep.
It sounds hard, I know, especially if your phone is your main way to decompress at the end of the day. But, good news- you don’t have to sit there and stare at the ceiling! One of the best ways to engage in a new practice and stick with it is to be consistent with what you already enjoy. Here are some swaps you can try out for yourself!
It’s important to know that even on the nights where you can’t avoid a screen 30 minutes before bed, all hope is not lost. If you’re frantically finishing up a slideshow or answering your family’s texts before bed, you can still improve your sleep quality by turning your device’s brightness down. Alternatively, you can also set your screens to warm up the colors on your screen at sunset.
It’s a lot to keep in mind. As with any new habit, you might find that putting this in place proves to be difficult. After all, we are creatures of habit- it’s hard to change something that’s felt normal or comforting for so long. The name of the game here is to do the best you can. Keep your sleep debt low, and avoid using your devices before bed as much as possible. If you keep at it, you’ll see results in your fertility journey in no time.