Staying up late may affect women’s fertility

A new report published in Fertility and Sterility suggests that women who are trying to conceive or are currently pregnant should avoid being exposed to light during the night.

Led by Russel J. Reiter, a professor at the University of Texas Health Center, the research team reviewed previous studies and focused on the effect of melatonin levels and circadian rhythms on conception rates in females. Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted by the pineal gland in the brain in response to darkness, and has long been associated with better sleep. However, melatonin may also be important when a woman is trying to conceive because it protects her eggs from oxidative stress, shielding the eggs from damage, especially during ovulation. In their review the researchers found that darkness was important for optimal reproductive health in women, since darkness is needed for the brain to produce melatonin.

Based on their findings, Reiter suggests:

If women are trying to get pregnant, maintain at least eight hours of a dark period at night. The light-dark cycle should be regular from one day to the next; otherwise, a woman’s biological clock is confused.”

He also recommends that women who are trying to conceive or who are currently pregnant keep their bedrooms dark, with no outside light coming through the windows, and no glow from the screens of cell phones or other devices. Women who want a nightlight should select a lamp that emits red or yellow rather than blue or white light, which can disrupt circadian rhythms and the production of melatonin. Women who wake up during the night should avoid turning on the light, so that their melatonin production isn’t disrupted.

Read more here. 

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