Anecdotal reports of sleep problems during a full moon cycle have been confirmed by University of Basel researchers as they discovered lunar cycles and human sleep behavior are connected.
Professor Christian Cajochen, Ph.D., and his team analyzed the sleep of over 30 volunteers in two age groups in the lab.
During the sleep cycle, scientists monitored brain patterns, eye movements and measured their hormone secretions among the participants.
The findings suggest that even today, despite the comforts of modern life, humans still respond to the geophysical rhythms of the moon.
The results have been published in the journal Current Biology.
Researchers say the study data suggests that both the subjective and the objective perception of the quality of sleep changed with the lunar cycles.
Around full moon, brain activity in the areas related to deep sleep dropped by 30 percent. People also took five minutes longer to fall asleep and they overall slept for 20 minutes less.
The volunteers felt as though their sleep had been poorer during full moon and they showed lower levels of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and wake cycles.
“This is the first reliable evidence that lunar rhythm can modulate sleep structure in humans,” said Cajochen.
Researchers believe this circalunar rhythm might be a relic from past times, when the moon was responsible for synchronizing human behavior.
The effect of moon cycles is well documented in other animals, especially marine animals, where moonlight coordinates reproduction behavior.
Today, other influences of modern life, such as electric light, often mask the moon’s influence on us.
However, researchers believe the study shows that in the controlled environment of the laboratory with a strict study protocol, the moon’s hold over us can be made visible and measurable again.
Source: University of Basil