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Sleep, Circadian Rhythm and Fertility

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

The body’s natural circadian rhythm, which governs our sleep/wake cycle, is a reflection of the transformation of Yin into Yang. The circadian rhythm is governed by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) - the body’s internal clock - which is located in the hypothalamus. It is inherent to the organism and and is modified by light/dark signals that are received through the optic nerve.

Recent research has revealed that clock genes also exist in the tissues of the reproductive system, which need to be synchronised with the master pacemakers in the SCN in order to make the ideal conditions for a pregnancy to occur. Irregular sleep patterns will disrupt the synchronisation of the clock genes and have an impact on your fertility.

Clock gene expression has been found in: -

👉 The steroid-producing granulosa and theca cells lining the follicles and the oocyte.

👉 The fallopian tubes, oviduct and pre-implantation embryo.

👉 The uterus and placenta.

Consequently, disruption to the circadian oscillation of the clock genes in the reproductive system can affect: –

👉 Production of the steroid hormones

👉 Development of the follicles

👉 Implantation

👉 Early gestation

The rhythm of endogenous melatonin secretion by the pineal gland also provides feedback to the circadian time system to reinforce the sleep/wake cycle. In addition to this function, melatonin receptors are located in numerous organs, including ovaries, and it acts as a free radical scavenger. Melatonin levels are particularly high in the follicular fluid, and it is thought to protect the egg from oxidative stress around the time of ovulation. Melatonin secretion is suppressed by light, so overexposure to light at night (including blue light from your computer) will disrupt your sleep, as well as affecting your egg quality.

Sleep deprivation can also impact fertility by impairing glucose metabolism, as well as overstimulating the sympathetic nervous system and increasing cortisol levels.

If you are trying to conceive and you have trouble getting to or staying asleep, acupuncture can be very helpful. Improving the quality of your sleep and regulating your sleeping patterns is just one of many ways that acupuncture can help you conceive.

For more information or to book an appointment, you can contact us on 07957 641946 or email us at

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