Trying to conceive can be a stressful time. Maybe it leads to sleepless nights, and maybe that insomnia leads to late-night TV benders, or endless scrolling through a phone or tablet for Internet guidance. Does that sound like you? If so, you might have developed a coping habit that's actually detrimental to your chances of making a baby.
According to a new report, women who are trying to become pregnant, and those who are already expecting, should avoid staying up late, or other exposure to light during the nighttime hours. The study, published in Fertility and Sterility and cited by LiveScience, suggests that sleeping in a completely dark room—that means no light from inside or outside, and no screens—is the most conducive environment for reproductive health, and for protection of a fetus in utero.
"If women are trying to get pregnant, maintain at least eight hours of a dark period at night," said cellular biology professor Russel J. Reiter of the University of Texas Health Science Center in the study. "The light-dark cycle should be regular from one day to the next; otherwise, a woman's biological clock is confused."
Primarily, this is because turning on the light signals the body to turn down the production of melatonin, which is useful in protecting eggs, as well as maintaining healthy cycles for incubating babies. The researcher points out that evolutionarily speaking, humans' sleep schedules were determined by the rising and setting of the sun, with the natural light-dark cycles regulating our circadian rhythms–and in short, modern conveniences can kinda mess us all up.
So what can you do? If you wish, consider springing for a set of blackout shades. And if possible, avoid turning on the lights at night, even if you're struggling to sleep. You might even find you can soothe yourself back to sleep more easily this way—and that's the best thing for you for all sorts of reasons!
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