Worse sleep with full moon? FACT OR FABULOUS
The rumors have always been there … suspicions, stories, but also experiences of people claiming to sleep worse when the moon is full. But what is this, how much is there between the ears, are there any clues or even evidence that the moon affects our sleep?
Do we all have something like a moon-clock, a circular rhythm (luna = moon) that is tuned to the moon cycle? and does this clock affect our sleep?
I have read several articles on different websites on this topic. Some websites claim to be high and low that it is no longer a fable and that we really sleep worse with full moon.Other articles are more cautious and talk about a possible influence.
Research report on the effect of the moon on sleep
In June 2013, a report was published in “Current Biology” (a scientific journal) on a study conducted by the University of Basel. This publication literally translated the title: ” Prove that the moon cycle affects human sleep.” Quite a hard statement, and that of a recognized research institute. Does this mean that it is true? I have, of course, read this report and must say that the story and the results are at least very interesting.
An interesting fact is that this research is already ten years old. And it was never a survey of the influence of a possible moon-clock! it involved a research into circadian rhythm (day or day-night rhythm). Only in 2013, the researchers realized that the results of this research could also say something about the possible existence of a moon clock. This means, therefore, that the investigators were not aware of the influence of the moon, and this could not have affected the research.
For a total of about 3 years a total of 33 people were examined every 3.5 days in a lab. They were observed in a room without windows and therefore could not be affected by daylight or moonlight. The brain activity, eye movements and the production of melatonin and cortisol (sleep and watch hormones) were measured during this period.
Only 10 years later, the results were related to the moon. I will not remember that outcome of course 🙂
On average, the test subjects had 30% less brain activity on a full or near full moon (month 1 = 0-4 days before / after full moon).Furthermore, on average it took 5 minutes longer to fall asleep and they woke up on average 20 minutes earlier. Also, there was a diminished production of melatonin sleep hormone in the days around full moon. This compared to average nights outside of this moon class. Also, subjects themselves had indicated to have slept worse during these days.
Remarkable results, but …
The results are remarkable, but how reliable is a test with only 33 people who were only examined for 3.5 days. And this for the whole month and / or the lunar cycle. It has been taken into account constantly keeping as many relevant factors as light, temperature and (start) times and days (everybody’s same days and times of the week) etc. However, not with the daily breakdown regarding a lunar cycle. This means that only a few people (1/3) have been monitored in grade 1, and these are compared to the examinations in grade 2 and 3. The differences are thus not per person, but between different persons.
It is remarkable that the results of the research correspond to the results of another research. This is a field study in which 31 people kept a sleep diary for 6 weeks. Again here too, a small test group of only 31 people does not make the test super reliable.
There is simply no hard evidence by the far too small test group (s), but very striking and interesting results. And the results certainly serve as a good indication that the moon affects our sleep. I would not find it hard at all to believe that the moon cycle (like other cycles) affects humans in any way.
Man is a complex being … just like our world. Additionally, there is much evidence that our body and rhythms run with other natural rhythms such as the sleep cycle (or night rhythm), the day and night rhythm (or sleep rhythm ), and seasonal rhythms. Just as proof that light has a lot of influence on our day’s night rhythm, and on our sleep. Not strange, therefore, if there was a month and / or moon rhythm, where our body still has a biological bug in our body that ticks after this month’s cycle.
Has our body even clogged an extra bio-clock?
This in combination with the results of the two studies, the fact that there are animal species with a cicaluna rhythm, and many experiences of people claiming to sleep worse … I would like to say that I personally believe that the moon and Her cycle still has some influence on us and our sleep.
I also believe that this rhythm was much stronger thousands of years ago and was part of our survival when we were still living outside. The usefulness of this primeval instinct to survive has now disappeared, and I think that this has reduced the effect and influence over the last thousand years. The (minor) influence still present today seems to me a remnant of our original primeval instinct.
A remnant of our origins
Our first instinct as a statement
How this primeval instinct was ever part of our life (and survival) is unclear. There are several statements to be made, but it continues to guess. I have summarized the statements I have encountered (or thought of myself).
It must have happened to us that we lived more outdoors. I think the most obvious explanation is that during the day around a full moon was more (moon) light. It is known that light (and especially natural light) has a great deal of influence on our sleep. Light promotes the production of Cortisol (waakhormoon) and counteracts the production of melatonin (waakhormone). I suspect that there were simply fewer sleep hormones created around full moon because we were more exposed to light!
Because we lived outside
What also sounds very logical is that our lives and sleep behavior were much more synchronized with day and night, light and dark. So, we were automatically more active on nights in which it was lighter with moonlight. Perhaps we were more often traveling or hunting.
It may also be that the moon cycle is related to female fertility, and that our moon bell was a tool to show fertility in women (it is known that this is the case with some animal species).
The moon cycle is closely linked to day and season rhythm as well as to the tides. Animal species (in coastal areas) where the moon rhythm is best developed seems the best to survive. It would certainly not be strange if this played a role when we were still living outside.