How a Full Moon May Affect Your Sleep
A new study published in Argentina states that we sleep less on nights that lead up to a full moon.
This has created certain confusion among researchers on such occurrences.
Researchers observed people who used a various range of lightings during sleep to find if there is any correlation between lighting and sleep as the lunar cycle progresses. This leads to researchers thinking that the moon’s gravity is related to the occurrence.
According to experts, it is stated that there is no evidence at the moment that provides solid evidence on the effect of lunar gravity on sleep quality. However, there is some evidence indicating that lighting does affect sleep quality in some way.
We’ve all heard stories of how things can get a little strange during a full moon: from increased rates of psychiatric hospitalization to a higher risk of being bitten by an animal.
However, findings from a study published recently suggest that the lunar cycle does affect how you sleep.
Researchers observed groups with differing access to artificial light.
Researches then utilized wrist monitors to track sleep patterns from 98 people originating from three indigenous communities in Argentina.
The researchers carried out the study on these communities as each community had different levels of access to electricity during the study period:
1. One community had no electricity.
2. Another had limited access to electricity, such as a single source of artificial light.
3. A third community lived in an urban setting with full access to electricity.
Researchers then collected the sleep data for one of two lunar cycles from about 75% of the participants.
Researchers managed to find that participants from all three communities recorded similar sleep patterns ad the moon progressed through its 29.5th-day cycle.
On average, people often went to bed late and recorded low amount of sleep hours at least 3 to 5 days before the full moon
The sleep-monitor data obtained from 464 USA college students are analyzed and studied separately to detect similar sleep patterns.
Result: Sleep was shortest before the full moon.
Despite forming a hypothesis which states that moonlight and sleep quality does have a correlation, scientists were surprised by two findings:
First, the scientists who had predicted it did not see a maximal inhibition of sleep exactly during the full moon nights.
Instead, they noticed that nocturnal activity increased, and sleep for their group was shortest starting a few nights before the night of the full moon.
1. The scientists initially believed this was because more moonlight is available during the first half of the night, but not necessarily the nights that follow the full moon (because the moon rises later every night).
2. They were extremely surprised to find that the effect, although smaller, was present regardless of the access to electricity, and in fact, even among university students living in the USA.
A scientist stated an assumption that the moon exerts its effect by an increase in the evening or nighttime light which is capable of suppressing the sleep hormone known as “melatonin”, which is responsible for the onset and duration of sleep.
There is a significant delay and decrease in total sleep time on nights leading up to a full moon.
Light, whether artificial or natural — from the moon, or the setting sun — can have a suppressant effect on melatonin. So, it is plausible that moonlight could have a natural wake-promoting effect.
However, the study doesn’t explain how the moon affects sleep.
Scientists can’t establish a causal link between the moon phase and the changes in sleep.
Obviously, sleep timing is synchronized with the moon phases. No one knows how this happens. However, the moon’s gravity might likely explain it.
The scientists believe that the gravitational pull cycles associated with the lunar month may predispose humans to be particularly sensitive to the effects of light, moonlight, or artificial, on the nights close to the full moon. It’s all about light.
The point of all this is humans are really light sensitive. Humans all have a circadian rhythm, a built-in body clock, it doesn’t necessarily run a 24-hour cycle, and probably runs slower in most people — a 25-hour cycle.
Exposure to light trains us into a normal 24-hour cycle. Light is the thing that really turns your brain on. Everyone is still unsure about lunar gravity having any appreciable effect on sleep.
Does it affect your health?
According to the scientists, a sleep loss of 20 to 30 minutes is generally well-tolerated in someone who ordinarily gets about 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.
However, this can become problematic for people who sleep fewer than 7 hours on average or who don’t usually sleep well.
Healthy sleepers will most likely do just fine with a minor decrease in their total sleep time. For people with insomnia, thin, or unrefreshing sleep, a loss of 20 minutes can become a more serious problem.
In a nutshell, it can be seen that the modern lifestyle has exposed us to more artificial light sources and various forms of entertainment mediums such as smartphone, gaming console, computers, televisions and much more is likely to exert a deeper impact on our sleep quality compared to moonlight which is affected by the moon’s phase. This shows us the need to implement and maintain healthy sleep behaviors and bedtime habits.