Tossing and turning at night? Believe it or not, the moon could be the culprit: People tend to sleep for 20 minutes less on nights on or around a full moon, according to a new report published in Current Biology.
For the report, researchers from the University of Basel in Switzerland reviewed data from a previous study for which theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d put 33 participants in a laboratory setting for two stints, each of which were three and a half days long. The entire time participants were in the lab, researchers monitored their brain patterns, eye movements, and hormone levels.
Turns out, when the participantsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ time in the sleep lab fell on or close to the full moon, they lost 20 minutes of shuteye, on average. It also took them five minutes longer to fall asleep, they spent 30 percent less time in deep sleep, and they had lower melatonin levels.
Interestingly, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not the full moonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s brightness that wreaks havoc on your Zzzs; participants couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see the moon, and researchers had complete control over the light levels in the sleep lab. So whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going on? While the report authors canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t say for sure because this study didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t investigate the mechanism, they suspect that lunar rhythms affect your health and wellbeing, just as circadian and seasonal rhythms do.
In fact, previous research suggests that some animalsÃ¢â‚¬”particularly marine lifeÃ¢â‚¬”have internal "circalunar clocks" that work in conjunction with their circadian rhythms. But this is the first indication that humans might have something similar, saysÃ‚Â Christian Cajochen, PhD, head of the Centre for Chronobiology at the University of Basel.
So could the moon affect more than just your beauty rest? Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an interesting question,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Cajochen. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We actually collected other data on the people [in our study], like mood changes across the three and a half days, appetite, cognition, and more, but we havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t analyzed it yet. It could be true that the moon also affects other behaviors, but I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t knowÃ¢â‚¬”we havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t looked at that data yet.Ã¢â‚¬Â