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Can the Phases of the Moon Disrupt Your Sleep?

Posted On January 18, 2014
January 18, 2014

Back in the day, horror films depicted men morphing into werewolves with the rising of the full moon. Then there are also the jokes that depict all kinds of shenanigans and lunacy occurring when the phase of the moon is fully illuminated. Putting aside the creature feature films and the punchlines, the question still is: Can the phases of the moon disrupt your sleep?

In 2006, researchers in Switzerland set out to discover whether or not this thesis was based in reality. The group studied 31 subjects, 13 men and 18 women, with an average age of 50, over the course of 6 weeks and included two full moons. Published in the Journal of Sleep Research, their data based on subjective sleep journals showed that volunteers slept less and were more fatigued in the morning during the full moon phase.

Recently, the connection between sleep and the lunar cycle was revisited, and once again by a group of Swiss scientists. This study published in Current Biology evaluated 33 volunteers, ranging in age from 20 to 74, with all objective data collected in a sleep laboratory. The subjects were tested for total sleep time, rapid eye movement (REM) and melatonin levels. Researchers discovered that the subjects slept 20 minutes less when the moon was at its fullest phase. While they were able to corroborate the fact that sleep was shorter in duration during the full moon, the group discovered an all-but-opposite occurrence. It took longer for the study participants to fall asleep (5 minutes more), and get to REM or the deepest level of sleep at the time of a full moon. In addition, melatonin—the hormone that is often associated with ease of sleep—levels dipped by as much as 30%. What is even more interesting about the results of this study is the fact that the research was gathered without either the participants or researchers knowing the phase of the moon until after all the data was gathered. Hence, the group concluded that the phases of the moon do affect a person’s sleep even if the moon cannot be seen.

So if a person cannot actually see the moon, how can this phenomenon occur? This group from Basel, Switzerland, theorized that our bodies instinctively respond to the lunar phases of the moon, much like we do during the light of day. Nevertheless, with the small number of test subjects, more research is needed to delve a little more into the results of this study.

If you would like to find out more about getting a good night of sleep or believe that you might have a more serious health issue like sleep apnea, please contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 or schedule a free consultation.


About Phoebe Ochman

Phoebe Ochman, Director of Communications for Sleep Apnea Treatment Centers of America, manages all content and communications for the company.
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