Full Moon and Sleepless Nights
For many years the Moon has been blamed for everything from madness to increases in crimes and pregnancies. But could I also be responsible for some people not being able to sleep? Is there scientific evidence to support this suspicion?
Researchers from the University of Basel, Switzerland, found evidence of a “lunar influence” during a study with volunteers who slept under laboratory conditions.
The 33 volunteers, who did not know the purpose of the study and could not see the full moon from their beds, experienced the following:
- It took them five more minutes to fall asleep
- They slept 20 minutes less
- They spent 30% less time in deep sleep
Interestingly, the scientists suggested that it was not due to extra light from the Moon since the volunteers were confined to a dark room.
The most likely explanation, according to the research published in 2013 in Current Biology, was that they were somehow naturally tuned to the cycles of the Moon.
“The lunar cycle seems to influence human sleep,” said Professor Christian Cajochen, author of the study. “Even when one does not see the Moon and is not aware of the current moon phase.”
What Can We Do if the Full Moon Affects Our Sleep?
In a word, nothing. Dr. Neil Stanley, an expert in sleep in the UK, says that if the effects of the full moon on sleep were due to brightness, then usual solutions, such as eye masks, would help.
However, the 2013 study suggested that it was not about light.
“It’s an academically interesting point, but it’s not particularly useful since you can not stop it from happening, ” says Stanley.
“There will be a full moon every month, whether you like it or not. “
Stanley says that the research generated a stir when it was presented, but still needs to be repeated with a larger group of people and over a longer period to rule out that it was a chance finding.
“Unfortunately there has not been more research in this area since that study,” says Stanley.
He adds that if people report that they have a lower quality of sleep after a full moon night, it could be an example of confirmation bias, that is, people are more likely to notice and remember information that fits their beliefs.
A full Moon draws attention and people relate it to their night of interrupted sleep, while it is less likely to pay attention to a crescent Moon.
“It can only be a self-fulfilling prophecy .”
What Else Is Accused of the Full Moon?
The ancient myths are full of references to the ability of the Moon to go a little crazy or even to become werewolves. It even gave rise to the word ” lunatic “.
There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that there are more accidents, violent incidents, and psychiatric admissions when the Moon is full.
In 2007 the police in Brighton, United Kingdom, came to employ additional officers during the full moon periods after they carried out investigations that revealed that there was an increase in violent incidents during those nights.
“From my experience, for more than 19 years as a police officer, no doubt in the full Moon it seems we see people with a strange kind of behavior: more unruly, with more desire to discuss,” said at the time inspector Andy Parr.
“And I think that’s something that police officers across the country have confirmed for years.”
Another popular belief says that a full Moon encourages women to enter labor. It has also been blamed for the animals biting people, increase suicides and cases are to embolism. But scientists have found little evidence of these and many other effects attributed to the Earth’s natural satellite.