Research shows lunar
cycle affects sleep,
levels of mood hormone
An Expedition 10 crewmember aboard the International Space Station captured this image of the full Moon. Image by: NASA. Click image to enlarge.
SO MANY FOLKS BELIEVE the full moon causes all sorts of changes in the human condition that the myths have become widely accepted as true.
There has been no scientific basis for these commonly held beliefs – until now.
A team of Swiss researchers has found that, under carefully controlled conditions, the full moon does indeed affect us: it alters sleep patterns and changes an important chemical in the body related to sleep and mood.
Their study was published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, and reported last night by the BBC.
ACCORDING TO THE BBC story by Michelle Roberts Full Moon ‘disturbs a good night’s sleep’ the researchers found significant changes in sleep patterns during full moon phases.
“[Their] findings revealed that around the full Moon, brain activity related to deep sleep dropped by nearly a third. Melatonin levels also dipped,” Roberts said.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health says melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that is supplemented by many people for a variety of purposes.
“People use melatonin to adjust the body’s internal clock. It is used for jet lag, for adjusting sleep-wake cycles in people whose daily work schedule changes (shift-work disorder), and for helping blind people establish a day and night cycle.”
The BBC report on the Swiss study noted its findings in more detail.
“The volunteers also took five minutes longer to fall asleep and slept for 20 minutes less when there was a full Moon,” the BBC reported.
The research paper itself Evidence that the Lunar Cycle Influences Human Sleep
can be found at the web site of Current Biology.
The study by Swiss researchers is reported in Current Biology. It was published Thursday. Click image to enlarge.
IN A SUMMARY, it says: “[T]here is a great deal of folklore but no consistent association of moon cycles with human physiology and behavior.
“Here we show that subjective and objective measures of sleep vary according to lunar phase and thus may reflect circalunar rhythmicity in humans.”
What they found is that under carefully controlled laboratory conditions – with the additional light excluded as a factor – sleep patterns were indeed different amongst the 30 study participants during the full moon phase.
“[W]e retrospectively analyzed sleep structure, electroencephalographic activity during non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep, and secretion of the hormones melatonin and cortisol found under stringently controlled laboratory conditions in a cross-sectional setting,” the scientists report.
“We found that around full moon, electroencephalogram (EEG) delta activity during NREM sleep, an indicator of deep sleep, decreased by 30 percent, time to fall asleep increased by five minutes, and EEG-assessed total sleep duration was reduced by 20 minutes.”
So next time you – or a friend – starts acting strangely when the moon is full (like it will be again on Aug. 20), this time you will have a scientific basis for thinking they’re crazy!
You have been warned. You are now In the (K)now.
FEEDBACK: Contact site admin directly