Full Moon Influences Our Sleep Patterns [Study]

Melissa Stusinski

The full moon can keep you from having a good night's sleep, according to a study on "lunar influence." The study involved 33 volunteers sleeping in tightly controlled lab conditions.

The volunteers had a harder time falling asleep and did not sleep as well during the full moon, even when they were shut in a dark room. They also experienced a drop in melatonin, a chemical related to natural-body clock cycles.

The study suggests that the lunar schedule has an effect on human sleep patterns, whether or not the person can see the moon, reports the BBC.

Study participants spent two day sleeping in the researchers' lab and weren't told the purpose of the study. They also weren't able to see the moon from the sleep lab.

Researchers found hat the full moon and days around it caused brain activity related to deep sleep to drop by almost one-third. Melatonin levels also dipped during this time.

Participants also had a more difficult time falling asleep. On average, they took five minutes longer and slept for 20 minutes less when the full moon was present, notes The Los Angeles Times.

The full moon has been blamed for several things throughout the years, including accidents, crazy people, romance, and fertility. While the majority of the theories have rightly been debunked, this one may be true.

Professor Christin Cajochen, who worked with colleagues from Basel University in Switzerland, suggested that the moon's effects may not be related to how bright it is. He explained, "The lunar cycle seems to influence human sleep, even when one does not 'see' the moon and is not aware of the actual moon phase."

And some people may be even more sensitive to the moon and its phases than others. The study wasn't initially meant to investigate a lunar effect on sleep. Rather, the researchers looked back at the study years later. They went over the data and factored in whether or not a full moon was present when the volunteers slept in their lab.

While the study was small, with less than 40 participants, UK sleep expert Dr. Neil Stanley believes the findings are significant. He explained, "There is such a strong cultural story around the full moon that it would not be surprising if it has an effect. It's up to science now to find out what's the cause of why we might sleep differently when there's a full moon."

Do you have more restless sleep when a full moon is present?

[Image by Koshy Koshy via Wikimedia Commons]