The fact that the moon phases disturb the sleep sounds like a myth. Does the moon really affect our sleep behavior?
The moon has never left people cold. Ancient cultures worshiped the earth-satellite as a deity. In the Middle Ages, the belief was widespread that werewolves come, in full moon nights, to do their thing. And today? Many people are convinced that the full moon in the night sky robs them of sleep.
Many people actually sleep worse at full moon. So, they really do exist: the full moon nights, when people desperately roll from one side to the other, without coming to rest.
Does the moon affect the body or psyche?
More difficult to answer is the question of what actually costs us sleep. One theory: The full moon disturbs the natural melatonin metabolism. The hormone is secreted more in the dark and promotes falling asleep. In contrast, light inhibits melatonin production in the pineal gland of the human brain. If the spherical moon shines brightly through the bedroom window, this could result in a lower secretion of the sleep hormone.
But perhaps the explanation is much simpler: Belief in the power of the full moon causes people to anticipate sleeping badly during those nights. And that’s why you can’t find peace.
In any case, a full moon in the night sky probably only affects people who tend to sleep disorders. The moon doesn’t interests a healthy sleeper. So, is it just a matter of mind?
Study finds hints
In contrast to the old saga poets, modern sleep research has so far been relatively less concerned with the full moon. But in 2013, a study by Swiss chronobiologist Christoph Cajochen provided scientific evidence that the lunar cycle could actually affect sleep patterns.
In the study, which was relatively small with 33 participants, the subjects slept about 20 minutes less on full moon nights. In addition, they had lower melatonin levels and complained of an overall poorer sleep quality.
Lock out for the moonlight
That’s an indication that there might be something in the phenomenon. But not more. A similarly constructed study with more participants could not confirm the results a year later. Clearly the moon issue is not yet clear.
Whatever answers science may come up with in the future, those who feel that the full moon is preventing them from sleeping can take some action. Against the light, the bedroom darkening. If that does not help either, autogenic training may help distract your thoughts from the moon and helps you relax.
Many causes of disturbed sleep
The full moon is no longer the biggest sleeping robber anyway today. Stress at work, traffic noise and LED light irradiation from televisions or smartphones are likely to be far more common causes of sleep disorders.
All these things are inventions of modern times. Our ancestors did not have to deal with them yet. They were able to direct their gaze still relatively free of distractions on the large, round moon in the night sky.