Categories: Sleep Science

Sleep Cycles Linked to Moon Phases

The moon has always been thought to have mysterious powers and is tied to various folklore and legends.  Now researchers in Switzerland have discovered evidence that suggests that the lunar cycle — otherwise known as phases of the moon — may affect our sleep cycles.

People have long announced that they have found it harder to both get to sleep and remain asleep during a full moon. While it was never clear whether our difficulty sleeping during a full moon was just a figment of our imagination or it really did wreak havoc on our sleep quality, scientists now claim the latter may just be the case.

Lunar Phase Sleep Study

In testing 33 men and women, all healthy and between the ages of 20 and 74, the researchers conclude that there is a link between our sleep patterns and the lunar cycle.

One of the most interesting findings of the study reveals that a substantial rise in sleep disruption occurs around the time of the full moon phase of the lunar cycle. The researchers found that total sleep and delta sleep — the later of which represents the deepest sleep in our nightly sleep phases — reached their lowest level during a full moon. Melatonin levels were also found to be at their lowest levels during a full moon.

“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,” chronobiologist and sleep researcher Christian Cajochen at the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel in Switzerland said.

In particular, the findings revealed the time around the full moon resulted in:

  • participants taking an increased time to fall asleep by 5 minutes.
  • participants spending 30 percent less time in the deepest phase of sleep.
  • EEG scans displaying reduced slow wave sleep (deep sleep) when the full moon was in effect.
  • participants sleeping 20 minutes less on nights with a full moon.
  • participants revealing they felt they had their lowest quality of sleep during the full moon phase.

All study participants were deemed to be without both psychiatric conditions and medical conditions. All were screened for sleep disorders and sleep quality; all were considered to be good sleepers. None took any sort of medications.

All testing was done in circadian sleep study in a controlled environment in a sleep lab. The results of the study were published in the journal Current Biology.

Why Do You Sleep Badly During a Full Moon?

Researchers suggest that we may have an internal biological rhythm that is connected to the moon’s 29.5 days cycle. While we have so much more to understand about how sleep works, this study provides fascinating insight into the role the moon may play in our sleep.

So, if you are having a bad night’s sleep, now you can blame it on the moon. Of course, only when it is full.

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Amber Merton

Amber Merton is an accomplished writer on the topics of green living and sleep. Her work has been covered in numerous online publications. Amber has been a regular author on the PlushBeds blog for the past 7 years.

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