Now I have been known to occasionally go off on a tangent and I don’t see this article being any different (Sorry).
Of course, due to the nature of my website, my initial aim is to discuss, “Does a Full Moon Affect Sleep?”
However, I have come across so many weird and wonderful facts about the moon and human behavior during my research (that are not directly related to sleep), I feel I just had to share some of them with you.
Perhaps you’ll find a few bizarre Lunar-related facts interspersed among the sleep-based intention of today’s article.
I think I’m going to “just wing it” and improvise as I go along.
The One Full Moon Study That Everyone is Talking About
If you search the internet for information about whether a full moon does affect sleep or not, you will be greeted with the most often-cited study conducted in 2013.
Researchers at Basel University, Switzerland, took 33 volunteers and studied their sleeping patterns over a 3-year period to see if the lunar cycle affects human sleep.
It is also important to note that these volunteers were unaware of the actual purpose of the study and they were also unable to see the moon from their beds.
The reason I mention this is because my first thought on this entire subject is that a full moon would potentially interfere with our sleep in many cases, due to the addition of light.
I have often spoken about the effects of melatonin on sleep. If for any reason we are exposed to light, natural or unnatural, during the night, then this can, and usually will, impact on the body’s production of melatonin, thus making it harder to sleep.
So, I think it’s only fair that before I reveal the results to this study that you are aware the 33 volunteers were in a windowless laboratory, and therefore in complete darkness as they slept
NOTE: I find it a little strange that the experiment was conducted in a “windowless laboratory”, as the results were based over a 3-year period.
Does this mean that the volunteers lived in a laboratory for 3 years?
Did they abandon their families, jobs and lives in general for this whole period?
Unfortunately, short of turning up at the university and asking the researchers myself, I am unable to find answers to my questions.
- They took five minutes longer than usual to fall asleep whenever there was a full moon.
- The volunteers typically slept for 20 minutes less on these nights.
- They spent 30% less time in deep sleep, but took longer to reach REM sleep.
- Their melatonin levels were significantly lower on full moon nights (even though they weren’t exposed to light).
- The participants reported that they slept less soundly (during the full moon phase, although they didn’t know this at the time) and said that the awoke feeling less refreshed.
Now before I dissect this particular study, which has garnered the most attention in scientific circles, I want to look at a few other studies about the full moon and sleeping patterns.
The Other “Not So Famous” Studies
A larger-scale international study was conducted in 2016 on a total of 5,812 children aged between 9 and 11.
The participants came from:
- South Africa
- United Kingdom
- United States
The children wore accelerometers around their waist, which measured their sleep and waking activity levels.
The researchers collected information about how long the children spent sleeping, as well as how long they spent in bed.
Finally, the children were also assessed for their waking activity levels.
The conclusion to this study was that the children slept for 4.9 minutes less during a full moon.
Further Studies and Investigations
Danish researchers evaluated the sleeping patterns of 795 children between the ages of 8 and 11 and found they slept for an average of 3 minutes MORE during a full moon.
Back to Switzerland again, where 2,000 men and women were assessed, and it was found that there was absolutely no link between the phases of the moon and the quality and quantity of sleep.
205 people were observed at Surrey University and the results of this study claim that women had reduced sleep time, deep sleep and REM sleep around the time of the full moon. However, men were found to have longer REM sleep cycles during the same time.
A 2014 study that involved light sleepers who claimed they were sensitive to noise while they slept were found to be affected by the various lunar phases.
Confused? Good, So Am I
Okay, so let’s try to decipher all this information.
Plus, I should add this is merely my opinion, nothing more.
Now you could argue that in the main it appears that a full moon does interfere with sleep cycles.
However, there are still many inconsistencies, so this makes it very difficult to draw a firm conclusion.
I would also say, are any of the “positive” results really that momentous?
I mean, the 2 children’s studies found that one group slept an average of 4.9 minutes less, whereas the other group slept for 3 minutes more, whenever there was a full moon.
This is hardly an earth-shattering change is it?
Even the most famous of all moon-related sleep studies found that the participants took 5 minutes longer to fall asleep, slept for 20 minutes less, and spent 30% less in deep sleep.
Okay, the deep sleep figure sounds huge, but in reality this would typically mean that instead of spending say 90 minutes in deep sleep per night, the volunteers had 63 minutes.
Again, these aren’t really inconceivable and astonishing changes.
I’m not on my own in thinking that this is hardly a revelation, as the scientific community tends to agree with me.
Losing a few minutes sleep a night, once every 29.5 days, is hardly likely to make big sweeping changes to people’s mental and physical wellbeing.
Plus, apart from the Basel study (which remember was only 33 people), most of the other investigations were conducted in completely normal sleeping circumstances, and therefore the influence of light from the moon may have been a factor.
But still, 5 minutes here, 20 minutes there, No.
I’m not convinced that a full moon affects our sleeping patterns in any noteworthy way.
Moon Energy (And How It Can Affect Us)
What Do Astrologists Have to Say About a Full Moon and Sleep?
I’m always willing to listen to other people’s point of view in the interests of educating myself, gathering information, while also trying to remain impartial.
Okay, I was aware that the sun and moon combine to create tides in the oceans.
Well theoretically it’s all down to the moon.
Basically, the gravitational pull on the Earth from the moon controls the tides of the oceans. This can actually cause high tide in oceans on opposite sides of the Earth.
The ocean that is on the side of the Earth facing the moon gets pulled towards the moon more so than the center of the planet, but the center of the Earth is at the same time being pulled closer towards the moon than an ocean on the other side of the Earth (in effect the moon’s gravitational pull is pulling the Earth away from the ocean).
The result – high tides in both oceans.
Are you still with me?
I know what you’re thinking – Thanks for the lovely astronomy/geography lesson Partha, but what has this got to do with the full moon and our sleeping habits?
Don’t worry, I’m just getting there.
(Remember, according to some astrologists) So, as you’re probably aware the human body is made up of approximately 70% water, and there are suggestions that how the moon’s gravitational pull affects the waters on Earth, in the same way it affects the waters inside of us.
This “high tide” and “low tide” impact that the moon has on us can make us feel heightened emotions, whether these are good or bad emotions.
Therefore, if you’re feeling particularly happy with life, you may feel ecstatic around full moon time, and if you’re generally feeling sad, the full moon may sink you into a very deep, dark, black hole.
Don’t shake your head at the computer.
Actually, I’m probably being a little harsh on astrologers alone here.
In Ancient Greece and Rome, the same tidal wave of emotions was thought to exist.
In fact, the word “lunatic” actually comes from the Roman moon goddess, Luna. It was believed that the full moon created a wave of strange behavior in people.
There are even many people today, including some psychiatrists, who believe that the human brain and body water theory still holds true.
To complete the round-up of what our astrological-thinking friends have to say. It is believed that the light from the moon can affect the quality and quantity of your sleep, as well as making you feel restless (but, we already knew that anyway)..
There is a suggestion that the energy from the glow of the moon can make us have far more vivid dreams. Plus, this energy from the moon may also make you feel like you need less sleep, but still feeling far more energized the following day.
Finally, a new or full moon may make you feel depressed (as discussed above) if you are going through a particularly low period in your life at the moment. This will typically interfere with your sleep.
I’m not entirely convinced to be honest.
And, moving swiftly on.
My Favorite Weird Moon Facts (and Possibly Myths)
1. Dogs have a 28% higher chance of visiting the emergency room during the days surrounding a full moon. The exact reasons for this are not known, but poor pooch has a greater possibility of getting hurt.
2. During new and full moons when the Earth, moon and sun align, the effect of the gravitational pull of these celestial bodies can cause some of the most dramatic tides you are ever likely to see.
3. The crime rate may go up. Oh yes, apparently during a full moon it seems both ordinary people and criminals are drawn out longer into the night because of the extra light. This in turn typically sees crimes and thefts increase.
4. The full moon may regulate menstrual cycles – well there’s a sentence I thought I’d never write. Actually, I don’t even want to go into more detail. If you’re that intrigued, please use Uncle Google.
5. A full moon may increase birth rates. This has been a myth passed down through the centuries, but it appears there may be some scientific backing for it. All I’m going to say, remember I spoke about “gravitational pulls” during the full moon – I’ll leave you to work out the rest.
6. Talking of birth rates, sea turtles typically wait until the full moon tide in order to come ashore and lay their eggs. I believe this has something to do with the more dramatic tides I mentioned above. These deeper and more dramatic tides can push our dear friend the sea turtle further ashore, which is better for them when it comes to laying eggs.
7. Still sticking with the theme of birth rates (well not exactly, but you’ll get my drift), coral tends to reproduce at a higher rate. This is more to do with the environmental factors produced by moonlight. So, this may explain the ever-growing Great Barrier Reef, off the main coast of Queensland, Australia (it’s definitely getting bigger).
8. Plant seeds may grow better if planted by the light of the full moon. We are back again to water levels being affected by the gravitational pull of the full moon.
Well my first final thought is that I managed to get through writing an article about the full moon and the effect it may or may not have on us humans, and not once have I mentioned werewolves!
And I won’t.
The impact that the full moon has on human behavior is something that has been discussed for many centuries.
However, in terms of sleep, I’m not convinced that there is any link.
The results from the various studies are inconclusive as far as I’m concerned.
As I see it, the only real difference a full moon can make to our sleeping patterns is potentially from exposure to light.
What do you think?
Has a full moon ever affected your sleeping patterns?
Has the full moon impacted on you in any other bizarre way (that you’re willing to share)?
I love to hear your views, so let’s have a chat in the comments section below.