Lunaception:: Balance Your Hormones by the Moon


As much as we humans think we know as inventors of electricity and the electric light bulb, LED lights, alarm clocks, big screen TVs, and computers, I tend to believe Mother Nature knows a little bit more.  Her very creation and existence contains intrinsic patterns and cycles that all of nature follows to keep in sync, to keep the eco-system in perfect balance.  These cycles, including the tides, the seasons, even the mating and migratory habits of animals are controlled by the solar and lunar cycles.  This has been the case for millions of years, through ice ages and continental drift, volcanoes, floods and other natural disasters that change the landscape of the earth.  Every creature adapts and evolve but always to the cycles of the sun and moon.  Even until the Industrial Revolution, farmers practiced crop rotation, planted and harvested those crops, and bred their animals based on the cycles of the sun and moon.  We all lived in harmony with the earth.  Then something tragic happened.  We stopped farming and were lured by the bright lights of the big city.  That’s where the harmony with nature met with a tragic end.

We stay up late watching TV or surfing the internet, all lights on in the house.  We go to bed with night lights and big bright alarm clocks.  My husband even turns the lights on in the living room (he says so people will think we are awake) despite my coming behind him and trying to turn them off.  At the time we should be readying ourselves for sleep, we are exposing ourselves to an enormous amount of artificial light.  It’s no wonder many people need sleeping pills just to fall asleep.  And even more need to take another one if they wake up in the middle of the night.  Most people are not producing enough melatonin, the superhormone produced by the pineal gland (the third eye) that regulates our sleep/wake cycles or Circadian Rhythms. We all know the importance of sleep and melatonin is the facilitator of allowing sleep to happen.

When you hear the word hormone, I am sure the words that come to mind are estrogen, testosterone, and maybe progesterone, but there are many more hormones (insulin is a hormone) at work here. Prolactin is a big one that goes out of balance a lot, especially in women with PCOS, which, depending on the stage and progression of the syndrome, can be either very high or very low. Melatonin helps regulate prolactin secretion.  Too much prolactin, and it causes anovulatory cycles.  (months you don’t ovulate)   Too little, if you have just had a baby, and insufficient breast milk is produced.

Melatonin plays an essential role in the reproductive cycle and has a direct effect on the function of the ovaries.  It is responsible for when a woman begins and stops menstruating (menarche and menopause), and for the duration and frequency of her periods (menstruation).  It is found in significant quantities within ovarian follicular fluid and there are melatonin receptors in the ovaries.  Melatonin levels at night are highest in children.  As we age, we produce less of this valuable antioxidant hormone, however, our levels are prematurely falling earlier than normal because we are flooded with light day and night.

Before all of you run out and buy yourself a melatonin supplement, let me tell you, I am adamantly against this course of action.  (It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!)  If you start supplementing to fall or stay asleep you will trigger  a vicious cycle in the brain where you will make less and crave more creating a much greater need for melatonin.  There is a better way.

What is Lunaception?

Lunaception is not a new concept. The coining of the term and research was conducted in the 1970’s after it was hypothesized that light pollution as a result of our modern lifestyle, especially centered around where and how we sleep, was causing our natural circadian rhythms to throw our hormones out of balance.  By blocking out ambient light (hanging dark thick curtains on the windows, covering alarm clocks, etc) women who weren’t ovulating started ovulating.  Cervical mucous (a key factor in healthy fertility) cycles returned to a more normal state.  FSH levels returned to a normal state.  Luteal phases were lengthened and progesterone levels were higher during the luteal phase.  (Progesterone is important for proper implantation).  As a result of sleeping in darkness, fewer miscarriages occurred.

Right about now you might be thinking, “Ok, this is all well and good but I am not trying to get pregnant.  How does this affect me?”  Well, divas, if you are trying to avoid pregnancy Lunaception gives you a very distinct window of your most fertile times.  It resets your clock so you know you will ovulate on the 14th (or for 30 day cycles 15th or 16th) day of your cycle.  If you have PCOS, balancing your melatonin means a balance of prolactin, estrogen, and progesterone.  It also means taming estrogen dominance or estrogen deficiency.  For those in peri or pre menopause it will mean eliminating hot flashes and other symptoms.  Bye bye PCOS, PMS, and premature anovulatory cycles leading to premature menopause.

This is not a cure all, of course.  Proper nutrition, use of natural non-toxic beauty and personal care items, stress relief, and other lifestyle changes are also key in feeling well and balancing important hormones but the desire and ability to fall asleep and get the rest you need by producing the melatonin needed are important parts of renewing the body, allowing itself to clear itself of toxins and restore balance.

The Hows of Lunaception

There are two main ways of starting Lunaception::

*If you have a regular cycle (28-31 days long) mark your first day of flow as Day 1.  For 13 days of that cycle sleep in complete darkness.  Although it is better to sleep in complete darkness in all the room, a sleep mask will do in a pinch if your partner must have some light in the room.

*On the 14th day, introduce a small amount of light (via a nightlight or, even better, allow the moonlight to stream through your open curtains) and sleep with that light for the next three days.

* On day 17 go back to sleeping in darkness until day 28 (or day 30 if you have a longer cycle).  Your period should show up by then.

*If your period does not show up on Day 30 stop counting after Day 30 and go back to sleeping in darkness as Day 1 until Day 14 where you introduce light again into the room. Even if your period shows up on Day 2 or 3 you will introduce light on Day 14.  This should regulate your hormones and reset your cycle.

To sync with the moon::

*If you don’t have regular cycles or want to begin syncing with the moon (and your cycles are within a week of the new or full moon) begin sleeping in darkness on the New Moon.  On the 14th day (the day before the full moon) you will introduce light into your room.

*For the next three nights you will sleep with that light in your room.

*For the remainder of the month you will sleep in darkness.

Within 3 months of trying this my cycles had synced perfectly with the moon and my periods began on the New Moon with me ovulating on the Full Moon.  I am now pregnant with triplets!  Before I became pregnant I noticed a dramatic reduction in PMS symptoms and my bleeding, which used to last four days with another several days of brown spotting, began light, had two days of heavier flow, one day of lighter flow and then the bleeding stopped.  No more brown spotting.  My ovulation became regular and the symptoms I used to have before ovulation was gone.

We, as women, were meant to be in harmony with the natural cycles of the moon.  Getting back in touch with those cycles in nature (and eating the way nature intended helps too)  will not only regulate menstruation but boost fertility making family planning much less problematic, decimate “unexplained infertility”,  eradicate PCOS,  ease peri, pre and menopausal symptoms, and balance hormones in a completely natural way.

For those techie divas with an iPhone there’s Luness® Fertility Manager – Parhelion Labs, a fertility app that tracks the days you should sleep in complete darkness and eases you into a cycle of sleeping in light with “low” lights to “full moon” lights and keeps track of your cycle days for you.  I have it and it was $14.99 well spent as it took the guess work out of how much light I really needed. (Hint: it’s more than you may think!”)  Try it and see for yourself if your cycles don’t regulate no matter what life stage you may be experiencing.

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  1. mary says

    Thank you for another intriguing and thought-provoking article. I am definitely going to try this but will wait for the next new moon. I have always felt an affinity with the moon and when I was younger my cycles (for much of the time) DID start around the new moon. These days things are not very predictable (as I’m now 46) but I feel this could help minimize disruption.
    One question, what would be your take on using a salt crystal lamp (that emits a red glow) on the nights you need light as this is what I have in my bedroom? I can let the moonlight in if that’s better but a lot of light pollution from street lights will come in too!

    • thedetoxdiva says

      I think the salt crystal lamp would be fine, but ultimately, it would be better to just darken the room and put on a whiter light, like the color of the moonlight would be. Red may not be “light” enough. If it is as bright as the full moon would be, you could try it for a month and see, and if it is more orange than red that would be ok because the moon CAN come off as a bit of orange some months.

  2. says

    Very interesting concept. It’s refreshing to be reminded of how much nature plays into our lives and bodily functions amidst all of the technology we depend on today!

  3. says

    Hmmm, this is definitely something to think about. I have such a hard time falling asleep with any light what-so-ever though. I usually tend to throw something over the alarm so I can’t even see that light.

  4. says

    This is amazing. I haven’t ovulated since my last baby, 20 months agon… I have been hopeing to start… I wonder if this will work . I hope it will!!!!

  5. mary says

    Thanks, Detox Diva:) It is more orange than red (the salt crystal lamp) but I will see how I do – may take a bit of experimentation. Perhaps the real moon will be able to reach me. Definitely want to try this. It feels quite exciting!

  6. says

    This is so cool! I sleep in darkness with black out curtains all of the time, because of the necessity of my husband dealing with his various works shifts, and odd sleeping hours. He’s now semi-retired, so I can probably work in the light sync with the moon without disturbing him now. I’m going to try it! Another thing that is helping me already, is getting back to my running. I had a couple years of being so busy I didn’t exercise, and now I’m getting back to more of a routine. I feel a big difference with my monthly cycles from it.

  7. says

    So does this essentially mean to only sleep with light for 3 days a month? You said to sleep without light the rest of the month after the 3 days. If you mean the moon month and not the calendar month that would be sleeping without light until the day before the Full moon again. Is that correct? Just wanted to confirm. Thanks!

    • thedetoxdiva says

      Yes, essentially, if your cycles are somewhat synced with the moon, that is exactly how it would work out. If not, you will have to invest in blackout curtains and darken your room and then introduce light for three days in the middle of your cycle otherwise. When I did it (what led to eventual pregnancy for me) my cycles actually synced with the moon. I opened my curtains for three nights around the full moon. Otherwise I slept in darkness.

  8. says

    Hi there
    I know this is an old post but I need some advice. I have always had long cycles so they don’t cycle with the moon but have never tried lunaception. We are trying for baby number two and are having issues due to an-ovulation or mistiming. I need to know how, if my aim is to get my cycles on track with the moon cycle or do I just work with the cycle I have (i.e. do I just sleep in darkness for 14 days from my cycle start then leave the light on – even if it is not on the full moon – for three days, then sleep in total darkness again – even if it is totally opposite to the moon cycle??? am confused) please help I want to start ASAP.

    • thedetoxdiva says

      Start by working with the cycle you are in by sleeping in absolute darkness for all but three days. You may find that your body will eventually either sync with the moon or the opposite (with the new moon).

  9. says

    I am due for my period around the 19th of May and the full moon will be the 25th so do I leave light on 24th, 25th and 26th even though I am only cycle day 6???

    • thedetoxdiva says

      Amanda, when I tried lunaception and had time between wanting to conceive I DID exactly that, went with the moon, so I eventually (within 4 months) synced my cycles with the moon. I conceived within 6 months….. If you are in a hurry to conceive though…. use your own cycle.

  10. says

    Sorry me again I also forgot to ask about shift work – I have to work 2 night shifts a month, what do I do in this instance??? As I am awake when I am suppose to be asleep and trying to sleep during the day???

    • thedetoxdiva says

      You can’t really do much for having to work nights except make sure you sleep in darkness when you do sleep (unless it is one of those nights when you are supposed to sleep in light)…..

      • says

        Thanx for all your responses, I now know that I will plan to work with the cycle that I am on as I want to get pregnant ASAP, we had a chemical pregnancy last cycle so want it to happen again soon. I plan to count cycle day one as day one for lunaception, sleeping in complete darkness (I live on property so it is very dark) then have the light on for cycle days 14, 15 and 16, then back to complete darkness.

        Another question – did the sleep mask work for you or did you need to do the block out curtain thing????

        • thedetoxdiva says

          I do the sleep mask AND the blackout curtain. You have REM cycles in which the eyes absorb any light that is on (and light is absorbed through the skin anyway) so better to use a blackout curtain.

          • says

            I have block out curtains as I work shift work but they let in light at the top and around the sides, is it ok to have a minor amount of light coming in? (we live in the country so it is very dark outside anyway) the only light coming in is moon light if any

          • says

            Just after a little advice, I have had a very long cycle this cycle due to a chemical pregnancy last month, I am now on cycle day 30 and got a very positive opk this morning, have been sleeping in complete darkness since the new moon, should I now sleep with the light for the next few nights to ensure ovulation and help make it stronger?
            Ta Amanda

  11. Elissa says

    I’ve just found you and I am addicted! Your articles are so interesting and full of information. I particularly like the idea of Lunaception, I am not trying to get pregnant yet but I would like to become more regular, period-wise and taking the guessing out of conception, once we do decide to get pregnant (hopefully in the new year).
    As I said, I’m loving your page, and please keep on bringing such great info. (I hope the triplets don’t give too much trouble!)

    • thedetoxdiva says

      Thanks so much Elissa! Lunaception was probably the one lifestyle change I really made to get my periods regular and it worked (it “tripled” my success!). It works well to normalize cycles and makes us much more in sync with the universal energy. Spending time outside barefoot (on grass, sand, whatever you have that’s natural) also helps while resetting cycles.

  12. Elissa says

    Hi Jacqueline! Maybe it’s too soon, maybe not, but I have done the first month and I got my period today with a “barely there” sensation of cramps and no headaches. Mind you, my cramps are not always severe but the headache is always present during this time of the month. And I’m leaving coffee, slowly but surely, so it was very pleasantly surprising. I’d like to see if it regularizes my flow as well, since some months it is heavy but hardly any pain and other months its light and the cramps are bad.
    As I said before, I love this page and I am applying more and more things into my day and loving it, just eating better has me with more energy. I’m going to try OCM next, I have to look for the castor oil to mix the evoo with.
    Hope the babies are doing well and your son is out of the hospital!

    • thedetoxdiva says

      Elissa, glad to see that your symptoms are getting less severe. If leaving coffee behind helps you, by all means leave it. (I have a cup a day and it doesn’t bother me but I use it as a vehicle for gelatin!) I am sure as you get into real foods and healthy living more and more you will feel better and better!

      • Elissa says

        So how do you do your morning routine? Water, then water with ginger, lemon/lime, fruit and then later your coffee? I’m trying to learn how to juggle that on the days that I actually feel like having coffee, which have gone down because there are days that coffee just doesn’t smell as yummy and I am embracing finding pleasure in everything, even my eating habits

        • thedetoxdiva says

          I always have a glass of water in the morning and then my water with ginger and lemon (because my mornings are long feeding kiddos) while waking up my kiddos. After they are awake and, most likely, fed, I have my morning latte with raw milk, gelatin, a little cassonade, lots of cinnamon, and, of late, a teaspoon of either coconut oil or ghee (which I didn’t think I would like but I really really do!). If you have an abbreviated morning, you might want to skip the first water, sip on the ginger and lemon water while either waking the kids or getting yourself ready and THEN, in that last 15 minutes before you jump out the door, you have your coffee. I’ll give you a hint. Coffee, which is high in magnesium, is actually much more digestible if you do add a little gelatin and maybe even some ghee or coconut oil. (Hint, you WILL have to sweeten it with either honey or a little unrefined sugar if you do add the fat however it gives it a very rich Starbuck’s feel!

  13. Elissa says

    Oh and I have a nice grassy backyard and the beach 2 min away and I LOVE going barefoot so my cycles should reset pretty easy ;-)

    • thedetoxdiva says

      Yes, true, earthing (what you do when you go barefoot) help you connect better with the earth’s energy that is SO messed up through too much computer time, TV and other electromagnetic energy!

      • says

        Do you sleep with an earthing sheet? I do, and am wondering how much it’ll help me with the process, and any other feelings you have about them?
        Thank you!

        • thedetoxdiva says

          Ali, I do use an earthing sheet every night. It might very well help you but Lunaception can be done without earthing if you are turning off ALL electronic equipment before going to sleep. I am actually going to write a post soon on earthing. Many people look at it as pseudo science but unfortunately with high rises, electronics and synthetic shoes (along with no longer going barefoot) earthing has its place.

          • says

            Random, but I’ve been meaning to ask this since I read one of your posts that mentioned you were drinking chai….. Do you have a homemade recipe for chai that I could make at home easily??

          • says

            Also, while I’m asking random questions… How do you feel about kombucha? I’ve heard mostly good things about it and started making it at home, but am wondering if there’s a specific recipe I should be using for optimal health benefits?

          • thedetoxdiva says

            Kombucha, while fermented, is actually the LEAST effective fermented food…. It’s not bad but it’s not my “cup of tea” so I couldn’t really help you with recipes. Sorry!

  14. Sonja says

    I know this is an old post & I may not get a reply. We live on a rural property with no other lights around. We have no curtains at all. I am obviously not in sync with the moon cycle & we are currently ttc (for 5 years now) my cycle can be anywhere from 18 to 30 days, but usually its around 26 days. Do you think an eye mask would be enough to get me in sync? The only other light coming through our window would be that of the moon. Thanks.

    • thedetoxdiva says

      I think if you are lucky enough to see the moon and no other lights and you have no tv or other lights in your house on at the time you are going to sleep then really it should be fine to use a mask (a blackout mask) on all but the full moon nights. (3 days before) for about three months and then gradually go to sleep with the moon. Make sure you are going to sleep as close to 10-11pm as you can to help your body detox any excess estrogen as well.

  15. Stella says

    Hi, thanks for the great info! I just stopped taking birth control pills a month ago and would love to balance my hormones and be in sync with the moon. I’m not trying to get pregnant though. I started my menstrual cycle today and the full moon was yesterday (and it was like this on birth control too, if that counts). So do you think I should still night light on the full moon during my period? Or would that possibly make cramps (or something) worse?

    • says

      I think you need to mimic the light of the full moon. So yes, either use a bright nightlight or sleep with the curtains open and then slowly diminish the light until the new moon!

  16. Eli says

    Hi there,
    Thank you for the article
    What do I if my period is not showing up , it’s definitely not in sync with the moon phase.
    Last time I had my period on August 30 until Sept 5 2014. I am 40 yrs old, never had kids.
    I would like to balance my period win moon cycle, when should I sleep in the darkness and when with the light? I am a bit confused since my period this month has not arrived.
    Thank you

    • says

      You start with the moon cycles NOW… you forget what your cycle is NOW and, slowly, it will sync with the moon. You might be entering perimenopause though…. that makes sleeping in darkness during the new moon and light when it is the full moon more important.

  17. Eli says

    Thank you for you reply. Funny as I typed last night the question, went to sleep in complete dark room.. And woke up at 4 am because my period arrived

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