Basics of Charting and Lunaception

One of the biggest reasons I started the 30-day Naturally Balanced Challenge, was to give myself some accountability when it comes to making new habits. Charting is one of those that I often forget about, so hopefully talking about it constantly will get me back into the groove. Below I’ve listed a few of the articles we’ve published on Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness, and while the basis of the articles is about conception, charting also helps us to figure out what’s going on with our hormones. If one part of our phase is to long or to short, it can mean different herbal advice or different dietary needs to fix the issue.

So one of my goals this month is to make sure I chart my temperature each morning at the same time.


photo credit: davedehetre


Thanksgiving day is kind of an odd day to start a challenge, huh? I know. But I also know that by practicing lunaception, I can help to regulate my hormones naturally, and the new moon starts tomorrow, so it’s an easy day for me to get on track.

Lunaception is basically the practice of balancing hormones by controlling the light in the room where we sleep. You see, much of our hormone production is done at night, and light int he room signals certain ones to be released. In the far off past, before electricity, women usually cycled with the moon as the full moon and it’s extra light signaled their bodies to ovulate.

full moon – signals ovulation       new moon – menstruation

Since I’m coming off a miscarriage and as of last Friday still have hcg in my system, I’m going to focus on balancing my cycle with the moon cycle. To do so –

  • Sleep in complete darkness starting November 24 (2011). This means covering up alarm clocks and windows that allow in any artificial light. Absolute darkness is best, but if you live in an area where there are no outside lights (in the boonies) you don’t have to be as picky about covering the windows. If you often get up at night to use the restroom, place dim nightlights in the hallway and bathroom and refrain from turning on overhead lights.
  • Starting on December 9 (2011), the day before the full moon, allow a small amount of light into the room. Natural moon light through a window is best, otherwise try and find a very white, yet dim nightlight for your room.
  • Three days later, on the 12th go back to sleeping in complete darkness until the next full moon.
If you already have a regular or semi-regular cycle:
  • Grab a calendar and mark the first day of your last period as day one.
  • Counting out to day 14 – that day you begin to sleep with a small light and continue for two more nights.
  • Go back to sleeping in complete darkness.

*If you have a 28-30 day cycle, just keep following your cycle and on days 14-16 sleep with a small amount of light in the room.

*If you have a long cycle, you’ll want to number your calendar only to 30, and then even if your period doesn’t show up, start numbering again at one, and sleep in light on days 14-16 again. It may take a few months, but eventually your cycle should match. (much more effective when you’re making dietary changes as well)

My biggest issue will be covering the alarm clock… husband like to be able to see it at all hours of the night.

Have you regularly charted before or ever used lunaception to regulate your cycle?

Donielle Baker

Donielle Baker

owner and editor of Natural Fertility and Wellness at Natural Fertility and Wellness
Donielle believes women can learn how to heal their bodies & balance their hormones through natural methods. An advocate for natural health, she has a passion for nourishing/real food nutrition and natural living. Her personal background includes both infertility and miscarriage and she started Natural Fertility and Wellness in 2008 in order to share all of the information she found helpful in her journey to heal from PCOS and overcome infertility.
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
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  1. Heather B. says

    I feel like such a ditz! I didn’t know I had to take my temperature at the exact same time every morning…my kids wake me up at either 6:30 or 7 every morning…hmmm…
    Thank you for this series!

  2. says

    I’m looking forward to getting into the lunaception stuff. I know of some research on it – chiefly CCL’s studies from the 1970s – which showed substantial gains in women with irregular cycles (really long or really short) or anovulatory cycles, alleviated spotting at odd times and higher progesterone levels in the luteal phase. Basically, improved gynecological outcomes across the board. Who would’ve thought that could be possible from blocking out light which you sleep!

  3. Kelsey says

    I charted back when my husband and I were first married, before we even started trying to have children. But my cycles never showed any patterns and I got frustrated and eventually got out of the habit. I really wish I would have kept going, though, since now, after 4 years of trying, it would be a useful reference. But you have inspired me to start again! Think I’ll go sign up for Fertility Flower…

  4. AJ says

    Red light interferes less with you sleep cycles so if you wake at night (breast feeding or bathroom) use a red light if needed. Lunaception has proven very helpful in regulating my cycles and along with help from my naturopath to balance my hormones.

  5. Jennifer says

    Would wearing an eyemask at night count as sleeping in complete darkness? I pretty much do sleep in darkness mostly. I do live where there aren’t many streetlights and i only have a red color alarm clock on the other side of the room and a glowing greenish light kind of thing in the open-area bathroom. I can unplug the night light, but I am the one who likes to know what time it is if i wake up in the night. Altho i suppose i can keep my phone in the drawer by my bed.
    But what do you think also about all the smart phone/wireless technology being near you and on at night?
    what would be best? Eyemask?, or unplugging everything?

    • donielle says

      @Jennifer, Supposedly, the body still knows there is light. So complete darkness works best. But an eye mask is second best.

      And I’m not certain that sleeping with cell phones is particularly safe. 😉 I don’t like mine in my room and I may start turning off our wifi at night.

  6. L says

    This is stupid but ihave always been afraid of the dark. I can deal but my hubby works overnights a few days a week so light is really comforting. Ironically i always have had 35 day or longer cycles and have gone months without a period during times of stress (ironically though got my period back at 3 mo pp despite ebf and cosleeping ugh!). Also since going off the pill in ’07 after taking it for 3 yrs, my cycles have never regulated. What can I do? Thx

    • donielle says

      @L, I guess maybe find some ways to be comfortable in the dark…? I dunno. :-/ Like have a lamp close by, or flashlight. Or leave a light on in the bathroom so you know there will be light as soon as you open your door.

      I do understand not being comfortable with sleeping when your husband is gone, Todd worked second shift for a couple of years. I got a dog. :-)

  7. Sarah says

    So… would something like this help if I almost never have a period? I had my son in Aug, ’10 and I’ve only had one cycle since then back in December. Would doing the darkness thing help start my cycles? I’ve never been regular except right before I got pregnant. We eat all real foods and do the best we can afford with all of that and I’m trying to lose weight so I’m not eating grains currently (or sugar, of course). I’m also getting acupuncture to try to start my cycles. I definitely envy the ones who don’t struggle with this!

    • donielle says

      It may help for sure – though are you still nursing? Or have you recently weaned? Because in reality, women are supposed to be “infertile” while breastfeeding – many not ovulating at all even with minimal nursing. (I for one didn’t even ovulate when we went to nursing just once a day – and it took 8 weeks after each child weaning to start again) I know it’s difficult when everyone seems to have a kid every two years….but it hasn’t always been like that. years ago people waited 3- 4 years between kids. Even biblically they breastfed for about 3 years and child spacing was 3-4 years as well. But of course that knowledge doesn’t help much does it? I too start to feel anxious when I realize that even if I were to get pregnant ‘today’, that my youngest would be 4 before the baby is born.

      For me – working on contentment is harder than working on the physical stuff!

      • Sarah says

        Not still nursing. Had planned on nursing longer but has some supply issues and my son weaned himself at 11mo, thankfully he never needed formula though! So I’ve been breastfeeding-free for nearly a year. I had to eat a low-carb, no sugar diet to start my cycles years ago and I’m working on that again. Of course, I do it without artificial sweeteners or junk food.
        I know spacing kids out more is actually better for your body and I’m with you on that… though I wouldn’t mind another one soon. I’m going to be 30 this year and I’m feeling that biological clock ticking. But, I know God is the giver of life and His timing is perfect. I just want to do everything I can to regulate my body because it feels kinda toxic not to clean-out monthly at this point. :-)

        • donielle says

          @Sarah, Well many women do have good luck with lunaception regulating their cycles. And I think that if you also work on the diet portion to start them again, it definitely couldn’t hurt to try. :-) Lunaception is one of those things that really has no adverse affects!

          • says

            Hi Donielle,
            First of all, I would like to apologize for my lack of English…but I’m gonna try to make myself clear the best I can :)
            My situation is a little bit tricky: here in Spain the weather in summer is so hot that it’s almost impossible to sleep with the blinds totally rolled down. I live in a small village, but there are some street lights. I tried to sleep wearing an eyemask, but it’s so uncomfortable to me that I take it off while sleeping, so when I wake up in the morning I find it laying on the pillow or the floor. It has been happening night after night ,since I wore the eyemask for the first time.
            Two weeks ago I slept with natural full moon light (with the blinds more rolled up than normally), and eventually had a period for the first time in 4 months (coincidence?). But I ‘d like to do this as well as possible, and I don’t know whether sleeping with a little bit of artificial light can have such a strong influence, or lunaception could work anyway (although not so well).
            Thanks so much, and congrats for your web! 😉

          • donielle says

            @Noemi, I think that doing the best you can is better than not trying anything at all! :-) So even though you have some artificial light hopefully if you can keep it somewhat dark it’ll help. Or at least try and keep it totally dark during the new moon (because after that you’ll always get a bit of moon light through the window anyways.

          • says

            @donielle, thanks a lot for your reply! 😉
            I’ve been using the facemask and, although I didn’t noticed any sign of BBT rising, I won’t gipe up. Anyway, I love feeling this connection with the Moon Phases. It helps me to keeep being concious of my femininity :)
            Thanks again for your kindness! best wishes.

  8. Courtney says

    I’m thinking about trying lunaception and was wondering if total darkness could also be achieved by wearing a sleep mask?

    • donielle says

      @Courtney, From what I’ve heard, using a mask isn’t as good as keeping the room dark. Something about how you’re skin also absorbs and interacts with the light. BUT…if that’s all you can do – it’s better than not doing anything at all! :-)

      • Courtney says

        @donielle, Okay, thanks! Some moonlight gets in our window so I thought maybe the mask would help. I’ll keep using it, and maybe get some curtains when there’s a little more room in our budget :-)

  9. Erin Harris says

    I am currently nursing my 19 mo son and have only recently begun to cycle again, although it’s been very sporadic! My first period came at the end of August, when DS was 16 1/2 mos. I had a second period 39 days later, and now (today, completely by coincidence with a new moon) a third cycle 47 (!!) days later. We are trying to conceive again, but with such a random cycle, we’re not having any luck. I really want to try lunaception, but struggle with the actual ‘doing’ part as my husband works odd (and not regular) hours and is sometimes up getting ready for work at 3 or 4am, or getting home at 1am. He’s generally very thoughtful about not waking me or my son (we currently co-sleep) but I am a light sleeper and usually at least acknowledge when he leaves or comes in. My question is this: What hours of the night constitute “nighttime”? Or maybe better asked how many hours of continuous darkness count as “totally dark sleep”? For example, if we turn out the lights at 11pm and my husband gets up at 5am, is my total darkness a failure for the night? I suppose I could try and get my husband to take all his morning routine to the bathroom or something, but he will inevitably forget something and have to use a light in our room!

    • says

      @Erin Harris, Hmmmm, good questions. And I don’t know the answer for sure, but I would think that having at least 4-6 hours of total dark, non-interrupted, would be sufficient.
      I think what’s more important is to just be aware and lessen the amount of light you might be subjected to on any ‘total’ dark night.
      Any many women have found that more important than the light/dark in their room is the amount of uninterrupted sleep they get. So while the darkness is important, it’s not the only factor in regulating the cycle either. :-)

    • donielle says

      @WOLE V A, I have heard some women say that they experience more balanced hormones, though I do think that the foods we eat and the way we live probably affect our hormone balance more than if we only practice lunaception. We first have to build a good foundation and tehn alternative therapies like this can be more effective.

  10. Ann says

    I ‘ve been having irregular periods since July ’13. Got my period only twice that too with medicine. Will lunaception helps with ovulation in my case?
    Thanks in advance.

  11. Ann says

    I ‘ve been having irregular periods since July ’13. Got my period only twice that too with medicine. Will lunaception help with ovulation in my case?
    Thanks in advance.


  1. […] Originally Posted by purplepanda Ah, I've missed my girls! I've been SO BUSY lately… Sorry I haven't been replying! Calasen- I am so, so sorry. What a horrid start to the year. Ginger- I'm sorry for you too!!!! On to another month, I guess. EVERYTHING crossed for you. Your DH is soooo awesome. I couldn't even get O & R to care that much! Edens- Totally stalking your journal. Thanks for starting one. Taurus- Good job keeping busy. SOOOO close to being able to test! GL on your wait and TONS of Rainy- I have never heard of the sleeping in complete darkness thing. What's that all about?? I lol'd at your being bugged about the temping thing… that would so be me! It WAS me… on days I work, DH wakes me up by tossing DS on the bed with me, and I was so made because I knew I wasn't temping quickly enough. Haha, those thermometers turn us into crazy ladies!! Where do you live? (Hope that's not weird). Me and DH keep talking about moving to WA… we love the gray rainy days, and we love cold weather (but not snow!). We figure WA is the perfect solution! We'll see, though. Nothing can happen for a few years, anyway. BbyO- What did Siri say??? I bought my OPKs off amazon. Speaking of which…. anybody want my leftovers??? They're just ICs, but I don't need em anymore, and I have a good 20+ left I think (haven't counted, but I only used them for less than 1 cycle). AFM… All my symptoms have disappeared… except I'm ravenously hungry, my bbs are huge (but that might be in my head!) and I have pregnancy brain lol. Pretty sure that last one is def in my head. But it's nice to have an excuse. I told O & R on Tuesday night as planned…. it was awesome. R freaked, O was in shock. I tried to get it on video but messed it up because we were trying to be sneaky… totally lined up the camera wrong and nobody is in the picture. At least I still have the audio! Check out this blog about lunaception. Basically it is trying to get your cycle in rhythm with the moon. Full moon=ovulation, new moon=AF.…d-lunaception/ […]