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As sleep science continues to become a more closely-watched area of medical research, it’s getting clearer and clearer just how important getting a good night’s sleep is for you. That’s why more and more doctors are beginning to prescribe sleep in lieu of other treatments and focus more on their patient’s sleep habits. While we all know that sleep can affect our performance in school or at the workplace, more and more studies are showing that sleep is one of the most important factors in your body’s overall health. Now, a new study out of China is showing that sleep can impact reproductive health in some surprising ways.

A team of sleep researchers and geneticists in Chongqing, China studied nearly 800 male college students to determine if there was any relationship between sleep duration and sperm health. They found that individuals who get 6.5 hours of sleep or less each night have sperm which is 30-40% poorer health than those who get more sleep. Their study is one of the first to find an inverted U-shaped correlation between these two variables, implying that getting either too much and too little sleep can have a negative impact on sperm health.

In their ground breaking study published in the Journal of Sleep Research, the researchers write that these results open up an entirely new aspect of both sleep research and fertility medicine:

Our results reinforced the hypothesis that sleep behaviour is associated with semen quality, emphasizing further the necessity to investigate comprehensively the effect of sleep behaviour on male reproductive health. This finding, in combination with the inverse U-shaped association between sleep duration and total sperm number, indicates usefully the complexity of the association between sleep duration and male reproductive health.

Another recent study found that couples who get at least seven hours of sleep together on average are far happier and less prone to fighting than couples who take “Netflix and chill” a little too far and stay up late. If you’re in a relationship and are trying to conceive, remember to try and fit some sleep in there somewhere: it can make the difference between healthy or poor sperm and a happy or unhappy home.

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