The full moon has long been suspected to influence sleep cycles, among other human behavioural changes, but until recently this was unproven.
While most previous research discovered some link between sleep and the moon cycles, the most recent and conclusive study, the 2013 Cajochen study, found “full moons were associated with longer times to fall asleep, reduced sleep efficiency, and less overall sleep time.”
Considered the most compelling of the data surrounding the lunar connection, the Cajochen study discovered the link after studying the sleep cycles of 33 adults for three years.
According to the study, sleep disruptions peaked at the full moon, with “melatonin levels dropping during the days surrounding the full moon and subjects reporting feeling less refreshed the next day,” and “overall sleep time dropping to their lowest levels - an average of 20 minutes less sleep - on nights with a full moon.”
But while the findings have proven that there is, in fact, a link between sleep and the moon, why this connection exists - and how, remains shrouded in mystery.
To completely understand the power of the moon on humans and human behaviour, one must consider what a full moon does.
The obvious answer is brighten the night sky - the moon becomes a full moon when its positioning is most fully “illuminated by the sun from the perspective of the observer on Earth,” according to NASA.
And this positioning happens approximately once every 29 days, resulting in a full moon every month.
This night of increased brightness would have understandably affected sleep in the days when humans slept under the night sky, and still could, if you keep windows uncovered, but the Cajochen study was conducted in a dark lab - which suggests “the human physiological response to a full moon may be innate rather than environmental.”
Another hypothesis suggested the effect comes from the earthly relationship between the moon and the tides - as the moon does have a proven gravitational impact on the earth and the oceans.
Or, we may carry “within us an internal biological rhythm that is linked to the moon’s cycle,” as some researchers suggest.
Although humans have not yet discovered exactly how the lunar cycles affect us, the relationship between humans and the moon has always been considered, studied, and celebrated.
And if you happen to believe in astrology, the super blue blood full moon eclipse in Leo currently crossing the sky has energy expected to last for the next three days.
The original article was published in the Independent.