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Goodnight Moon: How Lunar Phases Affect Your Sleep

Posted by Alyse Cooke on Feb 18th 2020

Goodnight Moon: How Lunar Phases Affect Your Sleep

Since ancient times, people have suspected that there is a special link between us and the moon. From strange behavior - to werewolves - to fertility miracles - legends and folklore have offered imaginative explanations about our connection with lunar phases.

Surprisingly enough, it turns out that there really is a connection between the moon and our physiology, particularly concerning how we sleep.

In 2013, scientists from Basel University in Switzerland discovered Evidence that the Lunar Cycle Influences Human Sleep. This was a major breakthrough that finally supported a mountain of anecdotes that have pointed out significant connections between our moon and sleep cycles.

In this study on lunar influences, researchers focused on five sleep factors:

  1. Sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep)
  2. Overall sleep time
  3. Time spent in REM and slow-wave sleep
  4. Brain activity during slow-wave sleep
  5. Nighttime melatonin levels

Based on their evidence, there are several ways that our sleep is impacted during a full moon. Do you know what they are? Keep reading to determine if you’ve ever experienced the effects of a full moon.

How Full Moons Impact Sleep

It Takes Longer to Fall Asleep

It takes a bit longer to fall asleep as the lunar cycle approaches a full moon. On average, participants spent about five extra minutes trying to fall asleep during a full moon. Then, as the full moon passed, sleep latency began to decrease again.

Your Melatonin Levels Drop

Melatonin is a hormone that we produce as a way to help regulate sleep. Your body naturally supplies more melatonin at night, then begins to decrease the supply as morning approaches. Interestingly, melatonin levels were found to drop during the days leading up to the full moon and were lowest during a full moon.

You Spend Less Time Asleep

On nights with a full moon, you can expect to sleep about 20 minutes less than usual. The study found this by examining the electrical activity generated by the participant’s brains. Within four days of a full moon, subjects were reported to have weakened delta wave frequencies, which are used to measure the depth of sleep.

Your Quality of Sleep Decreases

Perhaps the most surprising finding of the study showed that, during full moons, participants experienced a noticeable negative impact on their overall sleep quality. This stemmed from a 30% decrease in time spent in slow-wave sleep (the deepest phase of sleep).

How to Sleep Better During Full Moons

Unfortunately, a full moon appears every month, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. But there may be ways to help us sleep better during them.

Get to Bed Earlier

We now know that it takes longer to fall asleep during a full moon. For better sleep, settle into bed a little earlier than usual. This should help offset the sleep you might be missing.

Keep the Lights Out

Although the Basel study did not find any scientific evidence relating to sleep and the amount of light during a full moon, many people claim to be bothered by the extra brightness. Blackout shades or a sleep mask are simple solutions to this problem.

Use Sound to Boost Delta Waves

Since full moons impact our sleep the most by decreasing our brain’s delta wave activity, try listening to music or sounds that help boost it. A quick search for “delta wave sleep sounds” will offer plenty of options to help you sleep deeply on any night.

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