Could Sleep be the Secret to Male Fertility?

What A New Study Has Revealed about Sperm Quality

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. 

A couple pulls up the covers in bed, their heads peaking out over the top.
When trying for a baby, both partners can take action to increase the chance of conception.

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!

  • Trade a binge worthy show for a page-turner: All genres in TV can be found in the books in your library. Fantasy, horror, sci-fi, romance, comedy, you name it! Plus, a lot of shows are actually adapted from books anyway. Why not pick up that source material? And hey, if the written word isn't your thing, you can always opt in for a graphic novel or a comic book series instead.
  • Swap a funny show for a funny podcast: The great benefit to podcasts is that a lot of them are free on your phone, and they’re great for multitasking. Forgot to finish folding the laundry before bed? Put on a podcast and get folding! Plus, a lot of popular comedy podcasts are comedians just having fun in the moment. Who knows, maybe they’ll actually be funnier than the latest episode of that sitcom!
  • Substitute political Twitter for an editorial: Print journalism needs readers, after all! Support your local newspaper, or subscribe to a national paper. Besides- those reporters likely have more credibility than Twitter discourse, anyhow.
  • Switch out your nightly video game for a brain-teaser: Who doesn’t love a brain teaser? You can get all sorts of printable puzzles online. Whether it’s crosswords, Sudoku, or even word searches, there’s definitely a challenging alternative to your Xbox. Or if paper and pencil isn’t your thing- you could always play a two-player game with your partner. Chess, battleship, cards- whatever you like!

Man solves a Rubik's cube and avoids blue light before bed.
Rubik’s cubes are one screen-less way to keep entertained. Plus, it’s so satisfying once they’re complete!

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.

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