OK, drop what you’re doing, and text your boyfriend right now to ask him if he got enough sleep.
If he says he didn’t, then you need to break the (potentially tragic, depending on how you look at it) news to him: His sperm are dying… and they’re doing it quickly.
Why exactly is this tragic? WELP, if you want to have a family through natural means in the future, not having enough healthy sperm will make that a little difficult.
In a recent study, published in Medical Science Monitor, researchers from the Harbin Medical University in China found a pretty strong link between how much sleep men were getting and how healthy (and abundant) their sperm were.
For the experiment, researchers separated 981 male participants (all of whom had already developed healthy sleeping patterns) into three different groups: one group going to bed between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., the other between 10 p.m. and midnight, and the third sometime after midnight.
The subjects in each group were then assigned to get either less than six hours of sleep, between seven and eight hours, or nine or more hours.
After examining regular semen samples from the participants, researchers basically concluded that all of the all-nighters your guy friends pulled in college weren’t stellar for the survival rates and general presence of sperm.
Basically, the guys in the study who went to bed after midnight and the guys who got less than six hours of sleep both saw significantly reduced sperm count, lower survival rates, AND decreased sperm motility (how well sperm can move). Double whammy if you’re on your 18th episode of It’s Always Sunny at 2:43 a.m., and you need to wake up at 6, amiright?
Even in the seven-to-eight-hour group, researchers found diminished sperm health and motility in those who went to bed past midnight, meaning late bedtimes are literally a no-go if you want your spermies to be ~happy~, ~healthy~, and ~fast~.
BUT WAIT. Don’t think you can just sleep for 15 hours the next day to make up for this and take back control of your sperm either. It turns out, those who got over nine hours of sleep also saw a decrease in their overall sperm health.
Yeah, I KNOW. Life isn’t fair. You can’t win.
The researchers believe sleep matters so much for your sperm because they suspect that going to bed super late and not sleeping long enough can cause your body to release anti-sperm antibodies (ASA).
ASA are proteins released in the body that work to destroy healthy sperm by limiting sperm movement and preventing fertilization. And researchers found a much higher presence of ASA in those who didn’t get enough sleep.
ASA can even continue to effect sperm that manage to survive, which could potentially result in a miscarriage, according to Medical Daily.
The general (and kind of unsurprising) takeaway here is that getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night is, like, pretty damn important for all areas of your life. But the less surprising bottom line is that your sperm health and the future family you may or may not want depends on it.
So tell your guy to stop researching the history of cheese at 3 a.m. and GO TO BED.
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