Calling All Pregnant Women. There’s Something You Need to Know

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Exposing your eyes to ordinary light when you get up at night may cut off your melatonin and reset your circadian (internal) clock, making it hard for you and your unborn baby to sleep. Light bulbs that don’t make the blue rays that kill melatonin are now available at

The new book “Pregnant? New Baby? Need Sleep!” by Richard Hansler PhD describes how understanding how light affects human beings can make having a baby more fun. Dr. Hansler is an expert on light, having done research for 42 years for GE Lighting before coming to John Carroll University. It’s been known for many years that exposing the eyes to light at night when the body should be producing melatonin will both delay and reduce the amount of melatonin produced. Interrupting sleep night after night can have serious consequences. It wasn’t until 2001 that two independent research groups discovered that it is primarily the blue rays in ordinary white light that are responsible for this problem.

Based on this knowledge, physicists at John Carroll University developed light bulbs that don’t make blue light and eyeglasses that block blue light. Since the glasses only block the blue rays, they let all the other colors go though. While wearing the glasses in the evening it is possible to carry on all the usual evening activities without any problem. The special light bulbs should be installed in the nursery and in the parents’ bedroom so they can get up at night when their baby cries and turn on the lights without affecting melatonin flow. Using the special eyeglasses is an alternative approach.

Because melatonin can easily flow across the placental barrier, the growing baby will receive this melatonin at the same time the mother produces it. This means the baby will be developing a circadian rhythm that is synchronized with that of the mother. By avoiding disrupting her circadian rhythm by exposure of her eyes to light at night, both she and her unborn baby can develop a robust circadian rhythm. To develop a strong circadian rhythm the mother-to-be also needs to expose her eyes to light in the early morning at about the same time every day, according to Dr. Hansler.

After the baby arrives, the match between the mother’s and the baby’s circadian rhythm can continue because the mother’s melatonin appears in her breast milk. By nursing her baby, the baby will continue to receive the melatonin at the same time she produces it. This will help the baby to sleep when the mother sleeps and be awake when the mother is awake. Obviously the baby will sleep much more than the mother, but synchronization between the mother and baby may advance the time when the baby sleeps throughout the night.

“Pregnant? New Baby? Need Sleep!” (see website or buy Kindle for 99 cents) provides many other ideas about how the family can enjoy the whole process of becoming parents. By using the products available at the pregnant woman can stay well rested and she and her partner can relax and enjoy their baby. For questions please contact Dr. Hansler at 216 397 1657 or email at rhansler(at)jcu(dot)edu.

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Richard Hansler
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