Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Beware the Full Moon?

One study indicates the full moon may have an effect on  our sleep cycles.
One study indicates the full moon may have an effect on
our sleep cycles.
Image: Shutterstock
Are you someone who believes in the power of the moon? Can it transform werewolves? Does it mean “big changes” are coming in life? Will it make people act strangely?

Even if those things seem a bit silly to you, there’s one thing that could still be affected by the full moon—whether you believe it or not. Scientists studying the effect of the full moon on our sleep cycles have found evidence that we have a harder time sleeping when the moon is at its brightest.

The researchers studied 33 participants, who slept in a darkened room where the moon was not visible. On the nights when the moon was full, the participants took longer to fall asleep and slept, on average, 20 minutes less than during a new moon.

When there was a full moon, there were lower levels of the Dracula of Hormones, melatonin. As I’ve talked about in previous blog posts, melatonin affects our body’s natural clock and is produced in larger amounts when it is dark. During the full moons of the study, researchers reported lower levels of melatonin in the subjects—despite the fact that the moon wasn’t visible to participants.

Participants had more trouble falling asleep and staying asleep during the full moon.
Participants had more trouble falling asleep and
staying asleep during the full moon.
Image: Shutterstock
As always, studies should be taken with a grain of salt. This one had a very small test group, and at this point the findings are interesting but inconclusive. Does the moon really mess with our sleep cycles? It’s possible, but more research will need to be done with larger test groups and more targeted testing.

“There is such a strong cultural story around the full moo n that it would not be surprising if it has an effect,” said one expert, according to USA Today. “It’s one of these folk things that you would suspect has a germ of truth.”

What do you think?
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