Does the full moon disturb sleep?

Insomnia & sleep disorders during the full moon are a widespread phenomenon. But what is really behind the myth of "moon sensitivity" and do the phases of the moon actually have an influence on our sleep?

Table of Contents

  1. Sleepless on a full moon
  2. The phases of the moon
  3. This is how the full moon disturbs sleep
    1. Falling asleep & sleep rhythm
    2. Sleep duration
    3. Sleep quality
  4. The sensitivity to the moon - myth or truth?

1. Sleepless on full moon

Many people complain about sleep problems, especially in the days around the famous full moon. They find it harder to fall asleep, wake up more frequently at night than usual, or hardly feel refreshed the next morning. The conditions under which we sleep really well naturally depend on numerous factors and our individual needs. And yet for many people one thing is certain: the phases of the moon have a direct influence on sleep!

Whether the lunar cycle really affects human sleep is scientifically controversial. Some studies show that a full moon can impair sleep and reduce sleep quality, and the latest findings from sleep research also indicate an existing connection between sleep disorders and phases of the moon. But how could the moon affect sleep at all?

2. The phases of the moon

smartsleep Schlafmagazin: Schlafen bei Vollmond - Mondphasen im Überblick

Month after month, the moon, as we see it in the night sky, goes through different phases of the moon. A cycle lasts 29.53 days and includes the change from the famous full moon to the so-called new moon and back to the full moon. As the phases of the moon progress, the position and brightness of the moonlight slowly increases, peaking at the full moon, and then decreasing again. Some researchers suspect that human sleep is synchronized with these phases of the moon for evolutionary reasons - because our ancestors could naturally be active longer on a brightly lit night than in complete darkness.

3. This is how the full moon disturbs sleep

Falling asleep late & altered sleep-wake cycle

Trouble falling asleep is one of the most common sleep disorders and especially around the full moon, many people suffer from simply not being able to fall asleep. As part of a scientific study, it was observed that the test subjects only managed to fall asleep at a comparatively late hour on the days before a full moon night and that the time it took to fall asleep increased by around 30 to 80 minutes. A possible reason for this could be the special lighting conditions, because at full moon the celestial body reflects a lot of sunlight and shines brighter than on other nights.

Our inner clock, which significantly influences sleep behavior, follows the natural day-night rhythm and orients itself towards daylight. As it gets darker in the evening, our body begins to produce more sleep hormones such as melatonin and slowly prepares us for sleep. This leads to the assumption that the particularly bright moonlight inhibits hormone production, the melatonin level in the blood drops and we only get tired and sleep later in the evening. And in fact, further investigations have shown a lower melatonin content in the test subjects' bodies when a full moon is imminent.

Shorter sleep time

smartsleep Schlafmagazin: Kürzere Schlafdauer vor und in Vollmondnächten

In addition to falling asleep itself, the nocturnal sleep duration should also be influenced by the phases of the moon. In various studies, the amount of sleep in the test group was reduced by an average of 20 – 30 minutes per night, especially in the last three to five nights before the full moon. A lack of melatonin and the disruption of our natural sleep-wake rhythm could also be responsible for this, because this ultimately also determines how deeply we sleep and when we wake up in the morning.

Decreased sleep quality

On the full moon, many not only complain about problems falling asleep or staying asleep, but also report generally restless sleep, nightmares and the classic "feeling exhausted" the next day. Using measurements of brain activity during sleep, researchers were able to see that the sleep structure changes slightly in the days before the full moon and the so-called delta activity, which is characteristic of deep sleep, was reduced by an average of 30% . The sleepers spent less time in deep sleep and more time in REM sleep. However, deep sleep in particular is of great importance for the regeneration and energy balance of our body and brain. The fact that the quality of sleep also decreases on full moon nights, that we sleep more restlessly and wake up less refreshed, does not seem to be a pure myth either.

4. Sensitivity to the moon - myth or truth?

smartsleep Schlafmagazin: Schlafprobleme bei Vollmond

The question of whether the lunar cycles are a cause of the widespread sleep disorders and insomnia around the notorious full moon nights cannot be answered clearly according to the current state of research, at least from a scientific point of view. And even if this is a widespread phenomenon and, according to surveys, almost a third of people sleep badly around the full moon, the study results are not considered clear evidence of the famous "moon sensitivity".

By the way: women are more likely to be known for easily disturbed sleep (more on this in this article). Nevertheless, men seem to suffer more from the mysterious effects of the full moon. Male study participants took comparatively longer to fall asleep and their sleep duration was reduced more than that of the female test subjects.

But if we're honest, in the end it doesn't really matter that much whether the moonlight or (at least partially) our psyche is responsible for restless sleep on full moon nights. Unfortunately, whether we sleep well does not always depend on factors that we can influence. With good sleep hygiene, however, you create the right conditions for a good night and if the moon does keep you awake, our practical sleep tips might help you get a good night's sleep find.

5. Conclusion

  • Some studies show that around the night of the full moon, people fall asleep later, sleep less overall, and spend less time in deep sleep.
  • Bright moonlight is considered a possible cause of insomnia as it can inhibit melatonin production and disrupt sleep patterns.

Greetings and see you soon!

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