When you aren’t getting pregnant as quick as you had hoped, you will often grasp at straws, but it turns out that one surprising thing that you are likely doing can significantly affect your fertility.

We have long reported that lack of sleep can impact your fertility, but research has also shown that artificial light at night can also affect your fertility separate from the amount of sleep you are getting.

What is Your Circadian Rhythm?

We know that a woman’s circadian rhythm influences her fertility. The circadian rhythm is basically your body’s internal clock that is running in the background roughly on a 24-hour cycle influencing your sleep and wakefulness, and so much more, including fertility.

Your circadian rhythm is primarily set by the hypothalamus part of your brain, but also heavily influenced by light and dark. The Sleep Foundation describes the interaction between light and your circadian rhythm as such.

When it’s dark at night, your eyes send a signal to the hypothalamus that it’s time to feel tired. Your brain, in turn, sends a signal to your body to release melatonin, which makes your body tired. That’s why your circadian rhythm tends to coincide with the cycle of daytime and nighttime (and why it’s so hard for shift workers to sleep during the day and stay awake at night).

Nighttime Artificial Light

More evidence is coming in that exposure to artificial lights at night can reduce a woman’s fertility.  Some evidence indicates that the effect is more pronounced in older women (35+ years of age) than younger women. There is also research to support that exposure to nighttime artificial light is harmful to the fetus.

The bottom line: women trying to conceive whether naturally or through infertility treatment should avoid artificial light at night.

More evidence is coming in that exposure to artificial lights at night can reduce a woman’s fertility.

Types of Artificial Light

Not all light is equal in its impact on fertility. Scientists encourage the reduction of all light exposures after dark, but especially to blue-light. A Harvard University Health newsletter explains why.

Not all colors of light have the same effect. Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night.

Blue light is particularly impactful for fertility.

Sources of Blue Light

The primary sources of blue light include digital devices, such as computers, mobile/cell phones, Kindles or other tablet-style electronic reading devices. Blue light is also emitted from televisions and fluorescent and LED lights.

A Smart Light Plan for Fertility Enhancement

Avoiding all artificial light at night is not practical for most people who don’t live in a cave. Some simple techniques exist that you should consider to work with your natural circadian rhythm.

  1. Get exposure to sunlight for about 30 minutes each morning.

The sunlight not only helps your fertility through supporting your circadian rhythm it also allows your body to produce Vitamin D, which research has also shown to increase fertility.

  1. Limit your nighttime exposure to blue-light.

Two to three hours before bed actively avoid blue light by:

  • Turning off the TV.
  • Using a book rather than an electronic reading device such as a Kindle or your phone.
  • Avoid night-lights, but if you need one use a nightlight with a dim red light.
  • Install an app on your phone or tablet blue-blocking glasses or installing an app that filters the blue/green wavelength. You can set the time these apps start and stop filtering.
  • If you are particularly concerned or not able to control your environmental exposure consider using blue-blocking glasses.

Dr. Kevin Barrett, a licensed psychotherapist in Chicago, said: Before reaching for supplements or medications, try putting away your phones two hours before bed.”

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Image credit: Enitsa Koeva; blue light spectrum-Blue Light Exposed; BethLo