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Eight-ish Hours of Sleep a Night May Be Bad for Your Sperm

We’ve written before about how bad sleep habits can lower your sperm count, which makes total sense: Poor sleep is linked to tons of health problems. But a recent study published in the Journal of Sleep Research begs to differ — at least, when it comes to the health of your sperm. The research found that sleeping both more or less than the currently recommended seven to eight hours may significantly improve the integrity of the DNA within your sperm, which would improve your chances of conception.

Researchers examined 2,020 semen samples provided by 796 college students for high DNA stainability (an index measuring levels of immature chromatin, which packages and protects DNA in sperm — essentially, the higher this level, the greater the chances of unwelcome DNA mutations in your sperm). Volunteers who slept for more than nine hours per night had 41 percent fewer high DNA stainability sperm than those who slept for seven to seven and a half hours per night. Volunteers who slept six and a half hours or less per night also had 30 percent fewerhigh DNA stainability sperm than their standard-sleeping counterparts.

Put simply, getting either too much or too little sleep is actually better for your sperm, since it reduces the amount of high DNA stainability sperm in your ejaculate. This is great news for couples trying to conceive: “Ideally, you want under 15 percent high DNA stainability,” explains Dr. Jamin Brahmbhatt, urologist and infertility specialist at Orlando Health. “Anything over 30 or 40 percent typically doesn’t lead to a good pregnancy or any pregnancy at all.”

Of course, these are early days, and there could be other forces at work here. “There are probably a million other reasons why these college kids had such outcomes,” Brahmbhatt adds.

But until scientists claim otherwise, consider this: Your sperm just gave you a damn good reason to sleep in.