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The role of circadian rhythms in fertility: How do they affect our internal biological clock?

Nicole Veras en Ovoclinic

Have you ever wondered why some women seem to be very fertile while others have difficulty conceiving? The answer may have something to do with our circadian rhythms, the internal biological clocks that regulate a series of processes in our bodies, from sleep and appetite to reproduction. That’s why it’s important to keep them in sync if you want to get pregnant.

But what are circadian rhythms, and how do they affect our internal biological clock? Here’s how they affect fertility and your ability to conceive.

WHAT ARE CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS?

Circadian rhythms are natural oscillations which follow a cycle of approximately 24 hours and influence our sleep patterns, hormone release, and other physiological processes, acting as an internal orchestra conductor.

These rhythms are controlled by a region of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which responds to environmental cues, such as light and dark, and influences the release of fertility-related hormones. They also control menstrual cycles in women, ensuring that ovulation occurs at the right time.

Our bodies are designed to work most efficiently when our circadian rhythms are synchronised with the environment. For example, the circadian rhythm of melatonin, the sleep hormone, is affected by exposure to light. Melatonin increases at night to induce sleep, and decreases during the day to keep us awake and alert. When our circadian rhythms are out of sync, such as when we have jet lag, our bodies can struggle to function properly.

HOW DO CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS AFFECT FERTILITY?

When our circadian rhythms are disrupted by irregular sleep patterns or lack of rest, it can affect the production of reproductive hormones and several factors that are crucial for conception.

1. HORMONE REGULATION

Our circadian rhythms play a key role in regulating the hormones involved in fertility, such as oestrogen and progesterone in women, and testosterone in men. These hormones follow specific release patterns throughout the day, and any imbalance can negatively affect fertility.

2. MENSTRUAL CYCLE

In women, the menstrual cycle is influenced by circadian rhythms. Changes in cycle length or regularity may be signs that your circadian rhythms are not optimally synchronised. This can make it harder to predict when ovulation will occur, which can make it difficult to achieve pregnancy.

3. QUALITY OF SLEEP

Rest is essential for overall health, which also affcets fertility. Circadian rhythms regulate our sleep patterns, and quality sleep is vital for the production of reproductive hormones and overall reproductive function. Lack of sleep or irregular sleep patterns can adversely affect fertility.

HOW TO KEEP YOUR CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS IN SYNC

Now that you know how important circadian rhythms are to fertility, here are some tips on how to keep them in sync and increase your chances of getting pregnant:

1. EXPOSURE TO NATURAL LIGHT

Try to spend time outdoors during the day, especially in the morning. Natural light helps to regulate your circadian rhythms and keep them in sync.

2. SET REGULAR SCHEDULES

Try to stick to a consistent sleeping schedule and regular meal times. This will help your body know when to be awake and when to rest.

3. AVOID BRIGHT LIGHT BEFORE BEDTIME

Exposure to bright screens before bedtime can disrupt melatonin production and desynchronise your circadian rhythms. Try to reduce exposure to electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime.

In short, by influencing hormone regulation, menstrual cycle and sleep quality, our circadian rhythms play a key role in fertility. That’s why it’s so important to keep them in sync to increase your chances of conceiving naturally.

So if you’ve been trying to conceive for some time and think your circadian rhythms may be out of sync, consider making lifestyle changes to improve your overall health and fertility.

It’s also recommended that you see a fertility specialist. Remember that everyone is unique and what works for one person may not work for another. Listen to your body, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and seek support when you need it. Your circadian rhythms can be an ally on your journey to motherhood.

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