We've come right back to the "biological clock." Research shows that women who are pregnant or hoping to conceive should listen to their circadian rhythms and avoid artificial light at night. Sleep doesn't just help the body rejuvenate and promote growth in kids; it also protects a woman's eggs from stress. That's because melatonin is believed to have antioxidant qualities and defends the body against inflammation while stimulating the immune system, particularly during ovulation [sources: Klein, Nierenberg].
When the lights go on at night, melatonin production slows or stops. Experts say that women who are expecting should maintain steady sleep patterns that conform with the light and dark cycles going on outside. That means eight hours of darkness with little or no interruptions each night. The dark, not actual sleep, is the key. The body produces melatonin as a reaction to darkness and will continue doing so, even if you can't sleep. Among other effects, researchers have found that disruptions in this routine can lead to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism-related disorders in young children [sources: Klein, Nierenberg].
Author's Note: 10 Facts About Biological Rhythms
Daylight saving time is a blessing and a curse. Pushing the clocks ahead an hour come spring means that the sun will still be up when I leave my office. This, of course, allows me to continue believing that I am a real, live human being rather than some sort of hunchbacked, cave-dwelling hermit who slinks around under cover of darkness. On the other hand, it seems to take me weeks of adjustment to get out of bed on time after the change. That's because I like to get up when the sun gets up. Call me crazy, call me a damn dirty hippie, call me late to work, but it is my humble belief that alarm clocks are for quitters. If the Good Lord wanted us to get up earlier, he or she would bring the sun up accordingly.
More Great Links
- American Society of Plant Biologists. "Pants in the fourth dimension." July 1, 2008 (April 20, 2015) http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-07/asop-pit062408.php
- Carey, Benedict. "Father's Age Is Linked to Risk of Autism and Schizophrenia." The New York Times. Aug. 22, 2012 (April 19, 2015) http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/health/fathers-age-is-linked-to-risk-of-autism-and-schizophrenia.html?_r=2
- EarthSky. "Cool facts about your biological clock." Nov. 3, 2014 (April 19, 2015) http://earthsky.org/human-world/cool-facts-about-your-biological-clock
- Espenak, Fred. "Daylight Saving Time." (April 19, 2015) http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEhelp/daylightsaving.html
- Harvard Medical School. "Why do we sleep, anyway?" Dec. 18, 2007 (April 20, 2015) http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep/why-do-we-sleep
- Healthline. "Body Maps." (April 19, 2015) http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/hypothalamus
- Kavey, Neil. "Why do we need so much sleep?" NBC News. (April 20, 2015) http://www.nbcnews.com/id/3076707/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/why-do-we-need-so-much-sleep/#.VTZWF5N6Aih
- Klein, Sarah. "9 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Your Body's Internal Clock." The Huffington Post. Nov. 2, 2014 (April 19, 2015) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/02/circadian-rhythm-daylight-saving-internal-clock-body_n_6030142.html
- Lewin, Evelyn. "Is your biological clock ticking?" Women's Health & Fitness. (April 19, 2015) http://www.womenshealthandfitness.com.au/health-beauty/health-advice/427-is-your-biological-clock-ticking
- National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). "Circadian Rhythms Fact Sheet." November 2012 (April 19, 2015) http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/Pages/Factsheet_CircadianRhythms.aspx
- National Sleep Foundation. "Melatonin and Sleep." (April 19, 2015) http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/melatonin-and-sleep
- Newitz, Annalee. "This is why you aren't sleeping right." Io9. Aug. 12, 2013 (April 19, 2015) http://io9.com/this-is-why-you-arent-sleeping-right-990453669
- Nierenberg, Cari. "How Staying Up Late Could Hurt Your Fertility." The Huffington Post. July 16, 2014 (April 20, 2015) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/17/light-night-fertility-melatonin_n_5591183.html
- Psych Central. "The Importance of REM Sleep & Dreaming." June 16, 2014 (April 20, 2015) http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-importance-of-rem-sleep-dreaming/00019773
- Quaraishi, Sabah. "Circadian Rhythms and Sleep." Serendip. Jan. 18, 2008 (April 20, 2015) http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1926
- Reinberg, Steven. "Body's Clock Never Adjusts to Daylight Saving Time," ABC News. March 23, 2015 (April 19, 2015) http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Healthday/story?id=4509150
- Salisbury Cathedral. "Medieval Clock." (April 20, 2015) http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/visit-what-see/medieval-clock
- University of Maryland Medical Center. "Melatonin." Jan. 20, 2012 (April 19, 2015) https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/melatonin
- University of Utah. "The Time of Our Lives." (April 19, 2015) http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/inheritance/clockgenes
Author and podcaster Gretchen Rubin speaks with Lisa Oz and Jill Herzig on the You Turns podcast on the four tendencies.