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.