Full Moon Can Disturb Human Sleep Say Scientists

Posted on July 25, 2013

Scientists at the University of Basel in Switzerland have reported evidence that lunar cycles and human sleep behavior are connected. The research group, led by Prof. Christian Cajochen, analyzed the sleep of 33 volunteers in two age groups in a lab. While they were sleeping, the scientists monitored their brain patterns, eye movements and measured their hormone secretions.

The researchers say the findings suggest that even today - despite the comforts of modern life - humans still respond to the geophysical rhythms of the moon. The data shows that both the subjective and the objective perception of the quality of sleep changed with the lunar cycles. Around full moon, brain activity in the areas related to deep sleep dropped by 30 percent. The volunteers also took five minutes longer to fall asleep and slept for 20 minutes less overall. The volunteers also felt as though their sleep had been poorer during full moon. The volunteers also showed lower levels of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and wake cycles.

Cajochen said in a statement, "This is the first reliable evidence that lunar rhythm can modulate sleep structure in humans. The lunar cycle seems to influence human sleep, even when one does not 'see' the moon and is not aware of the actual moon phase."

The research was published here in Current Biology.

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