News / Health

Study Links Poor Sleep to Full Moon

A full moon is seen in the sky behind New York's Lower Manhattan skyline in this June 23, 2013, file photo.A full moon is seen in the sky behind New York's Lower Manhattan skyline in this June 23, 2013, file photo.
x
A full moon is seen in the sky behind New York's Lower Manhattan skyline in this June 23, 2013, file photo.
A full moon is seen in the sky behind New York's Lower Manhattan skyline in this June 23, 2013, file photo.
Jessica Berman
People have complained about a poor night's sleep during a full moon. Now, a new study has found evidence that Earth's closest galactic neighbor appears to impact the quality of sleep in humans.

Christian Cajochen, a sleep researcher at the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel in Switzerland, led a study analyzing sleep study data measurements, including brain activity, of 33 individuals who had previously been assessed in a sleep clinic.

To their surprise, Cajochen said researchers found the subjects slept more poorly when the moon was full.

“Around [a] full moon, people had less deep sleep, about 30 percent less deep sleep. They slept in general 20 minutes shorter, and it took them five minutes longer to fall asleep,” he said.

Cajochen said little is known about the impact of moon phases on humans, whose sleep is influenced by a 24-hour internal clock called a circadian rhythm, a biological process driven by hormone fluctuations that control the sleep-wake cycle and feeding patterns.
 
This internal clock also is affected by periods of light and dark, according to Cajochen, who said researchers found that levels of the hormone melatonin, which readies the body for sleep, also were lower in subjects during a full moon.

“There is darkness outside and our body has to adapt to darkness behavior, which means in humans, sleep. So it’s a sleep-preparatory hormone. And this was reduced during full moon phase, although they didn’t see the light. And this probably causes or caused this little sleep disturbance,” he said.

Cajochen speculates the sleep disturbance, which is due to what he calls a “circalunar” rhythm, might be a holdover from prehistoric times, influencing human reproduction and other activities as it now does in animals including sea creatures.  

“There is evidence these two clocks talk to each other - the circadian and the circalunar clock in other species. But we don’t have any clue in humans, first of all, whether there is a clock, a circalunar clock, and if yes, where is the clock, you know where in the brain. We know it about the circadian clock, we know exactly about the location, where it is for the circadian clock, but the circalunar clock is still mysterious,” he said.

Cajochen said a lunar clock, if it exists, also may influence cognitive performance in humans and our moods.

An article on the influence of the moon on human sleep is published in the journal Current Biology.

You May Like

Arab League Delays Forming Joint Force

Delay grows out of one of original obstacles facing pan-Arab force, analysts say: 'They may agree on the principle, but they continue to argue about how to implement the project' More

Pakistan Demands Afghanistan Protect Its Kabul Mission, Staff

Officials in Islamabad say Afghan agents are harassing Pakistani embassy personnel, particularly those living outside of mission’s compound More

US Survey: Trump Lead Grows in Republican Presidential Contest

Quinnipiac University poll shows brash billionaire real estate mogul with 28 percent support among Republican voters More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
July 26, 2013 2:10 AM
Circadian rhythum and circalunar clock, interesting story. Gravity working between the earth and the moon might affect the quality of our sleep. I would like to know how sleep of astronauts orbiting around the moon changed.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs