Researchers have been looking into how the lunar cycle affects sleep quality, and their findings may provide some answers. The phases of the moon were thought to influence human behaviour even in ancient times. A full moon has been blamed for anything from sleepwalking to illicit behaviour in the past. The words “lunatic” and “lunacy” are derived from the name Luna, the Roman goddess of the moon who is thought to ride her silver chariot across the sky every night. The link between insanity and the moon was observed by Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine. Beliefs have stood the test of time. When people on trial in 18th-century England committed crimes during a full moon, they generally obtained lower punishments.
What are science’s take on the moon and our relationship with it?
Modern scholars have done much research on it, particularly on the effect of moon phases on sleep. It could explain why your sleep cycles are disrupted and how the quality of your sleep is compromised. Our inherent circadian rhythms are synced with lunar cycle phases, according to a study published in 2021. (29.5 days long). It was discovered that in the days leading up to a full moon, people go to bed later and sleep less. The largest swings occurred 3-5 days prior.
The overall quantity of sleep varied by 46-58 minutes on average across the lunar cycle, and bedtimes shifted by about 30 minutes. Even while the differences aren’t huge, they’re enough to make some people feel out of sorts. It has been well established how much a one-hour shift for Daylight Savings Time affects people. The changing of the clocks has been related to a 6% increase in motor vehicle accidents caused by a loss of concentration and judgement.
Why does the moon have an impact on our sleep?
One of the researchers has a hypothesis. “We believe the patterns we saw are an innate adaptation that allowed our forefathers to take advantage of this natural source of evening light that occurred at a specific time during the lunar cycle,” said lead author Leandro Casiraghi, a postdoctoral researcher in the biology department at the University of Washington.
A previous sleep study from 2013 indicated that the full moon interfered with sleep. Participants took five minutes longer to fall asleep, slept for 20 minutes less, and took longer to reach REM sleep, according to the findings. The 30 percent drop in deep sleep was perhaps the most important effect. That’s the kind of sleep that’s essential for brain health, including learning and memory formation and storage.
There’s also evidence that when sleep time is shortened by 25 minutes, the frequency of nightly arousals and awakenings increases. It’s tempting to blame artificial light, but researchers contrasted the sleep patterns of indigenous Argentinian villages with those of urban-dwelling American college students. For a week before the full moon, both groups reported the same type of sleep interruptions, falling asleep later and sleeping less.
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