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Had a Bad Night’s Sleep? Maybe You Could Blame the Moon

jjcaAwNUtMq8c8t8SoMk8sy4mAKGpBpheyIFGt6v3hdKAQAA6wAAAEpQ_260x196A lot of people complain about their poor sleep around the full moon, and recently a report published on Current Biology presents the first convincing scientific evidence to demonstrate that this really is true. This new finding further proves that humans—despite the comforts of the civilized world—still respond to the geophysical rhythms of the moon, driven by a circalunar clock.

Christian Cajochen, the director of the research at the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel, noted that “Even when one does not directly see the moon or is not aware of the actual moon phase, still, the lunar cycle seems to have an influence on human sleep.” In this new study, the researchers studied on 33 volunteers in two age groups while they slept and recorded their brain patterns while sleeping, as well as eye movements and hormone secretions. The data reveal that before and after the full moon, the test subjects’ brain activity related to deep sleep has been dropped by 30 percent. They took five more minutes to fall asleep and the total sleeping time was decreased by 20 minutes.  The test subjects felts that their sleep quality were poorer around the full moon and they showed diminished level of melatonin, which is a hormone to regulate sleep and wake cycles.

“This is the first trustable evidence to support that a lunar rhythm could modulate sleep structure for human when measured under highly controlled conditions of a circadian lab study protocol without time cues,” noted Cajochen.

Cajochen added that this circalunar rhythm may be a relic from the past in which the moon can have synchronized human behaviors for reproductive and other purposes, just like what it does on other animals. Today, the moon’s influence on human life is often taken as the influence of electrical lighting or other aspects of modern life.

The researchers also noted that it would be more interesting to look deeply into the anatomical location of the circalunar clock as well as its molecular and neuronal underpinnings; it could turn out that human’s cognitive performance, moods and other aspects might be also influenced by the moon.

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