Fact or Myth: Does a Full Moon Affect Sleep?

This is FACT.

It appears that the full moon has an effect on the number of hours you sleep, as well as your sleep quality. A study published in Current Biology suggests that we sleep an average of 20 minutes less when there is a full moon than when there is a new moon.

What the Science Shows 

Full moon with alder trees.

University of Basel researchers shut 33 healthy volunteers into a windowless (so they weren’t exposed to moonlight), temperature- and humidity-controlled laboratory for 3 ½ days to test melatonin levels, how long it took participants to fall asleep, quality of sleep, and how rested they felt. It wasn’t until 10 years later that researchers analyzed the results of the study in terms of the lunar patterns of the moon. They specifically compared sleep patterns during the new moon to sleep patterns during the full moon.

Results showed that during the full moon it took participants 5 minutes longer to fall asleep than it did during the new moon. Deep sleep decreased by 30% during the full moon, and subjects had lower levels of melatonin, the hormone that triggers sleepiness, the fuller the moon.

Researchers have yet to determine why or how the full moon affects sleep. Perhaps it’s due to increased exposure to moonlight with the approaching full moon, or perhaps our bodies run according to a lunar clock, much like the circadian clock that governs our sleep/wake homeostasis.

The Importance of Sleep

Your body needs rest. Lots of it. When you don’t get enough sleep your immune system begins to falter, your heart health deteriorates, your blood pressure skyrockets, your chronic conditions get worse, and your risk for neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease increases.

Be diligent with your sleep habits. Create a welcoming environment for sleep. No digital stimulation two hours before bedtime and go easy on the artificial light. Some light reading, meditation, a warm bath…find out what sleepy-time tricks work best to calm your body and mind.