Does Insomnia Affect Your BBT? Experts Weigh In
By Abi Berwager Schreier | Originally Published November 21 on Romper | Featuring Dr. Sherry Ross
If you’re going by the Natural Family Planning Method when trying to conceive (TTC), you know there’s so much that goes into making it happen, other than just sex. There’s the scheduling and timing, tracking and measuring, you name it. When it comes to tracking your basal body temperature (BBT), it can get even more confusing since you’re supposed to take it first thing in the morning after a solid night’s sleep. But what if you have insomnia? Does insomnia affect your BBT?
Dr. Sherry Ross, OB-GYN and Women’s Health Expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period., says in an email interview with Romper that, in a nutshell, insomnia can affect your BBT. “Sleep disturbance, including insomnia, nightmares, restless leg syndrome, and poor sleep in general make you move around more at night, raising your body temperature. The changes in your body temperature at night will ultimately affect the accuracy of your BBT when taken first thing in the morning.”
And the best time of day to take your BBT, unfortunately, is right when you wake up, first thing in the morning. “Ideally, you want to take it the same time in the morning every day with a minimum of three hours of sleep prior to taking it,” Ross says.
How does reading your BBT work when it comes to ovulation and TTC? Dr. David Diaz, reproductive endocrinologist and fertility expert at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells Romper your BBT rises because your blood progesterone levels “cause a temperature shift,” by .5 to 1.5 degrees after the LH surge — which is when your egg is released. And normal body temperature is around 97.6 degrees Fahrenheit during days one through 12 of your cycle, for what it’s worth, according to Diaz.
However, Ross says in her opinion, tracking BBT isn’t the most reliable way to pinpoint ovulation because there are so many variables, including illness, alcohol use, medication, stress, and yes, insomnia. She does offer some tips, however, if you do still want to go the route of tracking your BBT. “Be consistent with the time of day you take the test, and minimize the known variables such as fever, emotional and physical stress, illness, smoking cigarettes, sleep disturbances, heating pads/electric blankets, medication, travel, and alcohol which interfere with the BBT’s accuracy,” she explains.
And be sure to use a special BBT thermometer, not a regular thermometer. This special thermometer can sense even the slightest change in your body temperature, like the .5 to 1.5 degrees, where a regular thermometer isn’t quite as sensitive. In addition to the special thermometer, there are apps to track fertility where you can chart your BBT changes, and one app in particular, the Kindara Fertility & Ovulation Tracker, syncs up with Wink, a bluetooth connected BBT thermometer. How cool is that?
So it looks like if you suffer from insomnia or something like restless leg syndrome, your BBT tracking may not be 100 percent accurate every single time. At least you can use apps and a calendar to calculate when you’re technically supposed to be ovulating, and you can even check your cervical mucus to get a pretty good idea. I never tracked my BBT, and using just those two methods (and marathon sex every other day during my fertile window) seemed to work for me — though it was sort of exhausting… sorry husband.