Full moon may make it harder to sleep, says study

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 July, 2013, 8:24am

A full moon doesn't turn you into a werewolf but it does make it more difficult for people to fall asleep.

Swiss researchers say that even when they can't physically see the moon, people really do have a hard time getting a good night's sleep when it is full.

The results of a study on 33 volunteers published in the journal Current Biology showed that people took longer to fall asleep at night and slept for a shorter time during a full moon.

The volunteers were monitored on two nights, and were not aware of the cycle of the moon during their time in the sleep lab. When there was a full moon, people slept an average of 19 minutes less and took five minutes longer to fall asleep than they did when there was a new 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," said Christian Cajochen of the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel.

Study participants also reported feeling less well rested, and showed lower levels of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and wake cycles, during the full moon.

The Swiss researchers are not claiming that the moon controls a person's sleep pattern, but rather that the human body may have an internal clock that tracks the lunar cycle.

The full moon has been cited as a cause of murder, madness and mayhem since ancient times. The word "lunacy" originally referred to a form of insanity linked to the moon's cycle.

Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg