Recently I keep seeing passages in books and paragraphs on blogs about the effect of light on our cycles and fertility. It has really intrigued me so I wanted to dig into that a bit more and share some of what I've found today.
In her book “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom” Christiane Northrup shares:
“Living in artificial light without going outside into the natural sunlight regularly can have adverse consequences on fertility, because light itself in a nutrient. Far too many people are not only stressed at work, they don’t get outside much. When I was trying to conceive my first child, my basal body temperature rose very slowly at ovulation.”
“The ovary produces progesterone at ovulation, which in turn produces this rise in body temperature."
“I decided to walk outside in the sunlight without glasses or contact lenses for twenty minutes each day. Natural light has to hit the retina in the eye directly. We shouldn’t look at the sun directly, but we must be out in the daytime. Within one menstrual cycle, my basal body temperature rose very sharply at ovulation — a big improvement in the pattern. I got pregnant within two cycles of doing this, having tried for five months before."
There seems to be a correlation between the amount of melatonin and what signals our body is sending and receiving. We need to be getting an adequate amount of natural light during the day, and blocking out the artificial light at night.
When light hits our eyes, this tells the pineal gland (in our brain) to decrease production of melatonin. And the opposite happens when it’s dark, a.k.a. melatonin increases.
Research shows that in some women, melatonin may affect our cycle regularity and our overall fertility.
It looks like some women might have too little melatonin, and when melatonin is too low, estrogen rises. And some women have found success in blocking out all types of light while they sleep, which has, in turn, increases melatonin and progesterone levels.
In the book “Fertility Cycles and Nutrition”, Joy DeFelice "has found that eliminating light from the sleeping area can improve cycle irregularity and infertility. Women who have carefully reduced night lighting in their bedrooms have experienced improvements in their cycle lengths, their bleeding patterns, their mucus patterns, and their temperature patterns, including longer, more normal luteal phases. Such changes generally occur within three menstrual cycles of reduced night lighting. Pregnancy among couples previously experiencing infertility has been achieved following elimination of night lighting, and early miscarriage rates have been reduced by eliminating night lighting while sleeping."
Another interesting note is that it looks like caffeine reduces melatonin, and that paired with night lighting greatly decreases melatonin.
I haven’t figured out a way to black out the window in my bedroom (it’s pretty big). I have cut out caffeine this month, and there's been a drastic change in how well I have been sleeping.
It had become just a normal thing for me to wake 3-4 times a night to go to the bathroom, and at the end of November when I had a cold I was only getting a few hours of sleep a night.
Just for that reason alone, the break from caffeine has been worth it because since cutting the caffeine I've been sleeping through the night.
I’m curious to hear if anyone has tried blocking out artificial lights at night, and if they’ve noticed any change in their cycle (or sleep quality). I’ve started another round of Vitex this cycle so it wouldn’t be a variable free time to guinea pig myself with cutting out the light. But I want to give it a go in the future, even if it's just for an even better night of sleep.
If you’re ready to learn more about your cycle, what’s going on in your different phases, with your fluid and temperature patterns, not to mention find an effective form on natural birth control, you have a few days left to sign up for my Chart Your Cycle course. Come join in and learn all about the sympto-thermal method!