Insomnia & sleep disorders during full moons 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
- Sleepless on the full moon
- The phases of the moon
- This is how the full moon disrupts sleep
- Falling asleep & sleep rhythm
- Sleep duration
- Sleep quality
- The lunar sensitivity – myth or truth?
1. Sleepless on a full moon
Many people complain about sleep problems, especially in the days around the famous full moon. You find it harder to fall asleep, wake up more often during the night than usual, or you barely feel refreshed the next morning. Under which conditions we really sleep well depends 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 influences human sleep is scientifically controversial. Some studies certainly show that a full moon can affect sleep and reduce the quality of sleep, and the latest findings from sleep research also point to an existing connection between sleep disorders and moon phases. But how could the moon actually influence sleep?
2. The phases of the moon
Month after month, the moon, as we see it in the night sky, goes through different lunar phases. 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 again. As the moon phases, the position and brightness of the moonlight slowly increase, peaking at the full moon and then decreasing again. Some researchers suspect that human sleep is synchronized with these moon phases for evolutionary reasons - because our ancestors could of course be active longer on a brightly lit night than in complete darkness.
3. This is how the full moon disrupts sleep
Late falling asleep & changed sleep-wake rhythm
Difficulty 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 get to sleep. As part of a scientific study, it was observed that in the days before a full moon night, the test subjects only managed to fall asleep at a comparatively late hour and that the time it took to fall asleep was extended by around 30 to 80 minutes. A possible reason for this could be the special lighting conditions, because during a full moon the celestial body reflects a lot of sunlight and shines brighter than on other nights.
Our internal clock, which significantly influences sleep behavior, follows the natural day-night rhythm and is based on daylight. As darkness increases in the evening, our body begins to produce more sleep hormones such as melatonin and slowly prepares us for sleep. This suggests that the particularly bright moonlight inhibits hormone production, the melatonin level in the blood drops and we only get tired and can fall asleep later in the evening. And in fact, further studies showed that there was a lower level of melatonin in the subjects' bodies when a full moon was approaching.
Shorter sleep duration
In addition to falling asleep itself, the nightly sleep duration should also be influenced by the phases of the moon. In various studies, the test group's sleep 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, as this ultimately determines how deeply we sleep and when we wake up again in the morning.
Decreased sleep quality
On the full moon, many people not only complain about problems falling asleep or staying asleep, but also report generally restless sleep, Nightmares and the classic “feeling like a wreck” the next day. By measuring brain activity during sleep, researchers were able to see that the sleep structure changed slightly in the days before the full moon and that 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. Deep sleep is particularly important for the regeneration and energy balance of our body and brain. The fact that the quality of sleep 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. The lunar sensitivity – myth or truth?
The question of whether the lunar cycles are a cause of the widespread sleep disorders and insomnia around the infamous full moon nights cannot be clearly answered based on the current state of research, at least from a scientific perspective. And even though it is a widespread phenomenon and, according to surveys, almost a third of people sleep poorly around the full moon, the study results are not considered clear evidence of the famous “moon sensitivity”.
By the way: Women are known for their sleep being easily disturbed (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 also reduced more than that of the female test subjects.
But if we are honest, in the end it is not that important 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 we can influence. With good sleep hygiene you can 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 restful sleep find.
Some studies show that around the night of the full moon, people fall asleep later, sleep shorter overall and spend less time in deep sleep.
Bright moonlight is considered a possible cause of sleep disorders as it can inhibit melatonin production and affect sleep rhythms.
Greetings and see you soon!