Does a full moon affect our sleep?

This year Halloween falls on a full moon. A full moon occurs when the moon appears fully illuminated from our perspective on Earth. Other than a spectacular sight in the sky, there’s plenty of interesting facts and folklore out there around what happens on nights with a full moon. There’s one question that’s got our attention; does a full moon affect our sleep?

Research by the University of Basel in Switzerland found that a full moon can disturb a good night’s sleep. Sleep data from 33 volunteers over a 3 and a half year period found that on nights around the full moon, volunteers took longer to fall asleep, spent less time in deep sleep, reported having poorer sleep, and had reduced levels of the hormone melatonin. The volunteers also slept for an average of 20 minutes less than normal. That doesn’t seem like much, but add it up over a year and that’s a lot of lost zzzs.

But why exactly would a full moon change how we snooze? There’s not a clear answer. A seemingly obvious explanation would be that the moonlight brightens our bedrooms and makes it more difficult to sleep. However this condition was accounted for in the Switzerland study where volunteers slept in a controlled, darkened room. Psychologists have also attempted to understand how moon cycles impact our sleep cycles. Dr Stephanie Ashraf, sleep medicine specialist in Fishers, Indiana, told Medium.com that myths and folklore surrounding full moons might be a key reason why sleep patterns are disrupted.

“Sleep is highly affected by what we expect to happen. We see this with placebo sleep medications, where a patient will fall asleep if they’re told the placebo will help them,” she says. “If someone expects not to sleep well because they know there is a full moon, they won’t sleep as well.”

Recall bias could also come into play. “The folklore around the moon makes everyone expect sleep changes,” Ashraf says. “We look for those changes and remember them and say ‘it must be a full moon, no wonder everyone is acting out today.’”

Some researchers have attempted to replicate the findings from the University of Basel and have found no correlation between a full moon and poor sleep. Many mysterious things are said to happen around a full moon, and it seems like to what extent our sleep is affected by a full moon, and why, also remains a mystery for now. What we do know for certain are the following tips on how you can sleep soundly every night, full moon or no full moon:

  1. Don’t be afraid of the dark, even on Halloween. Darkness is essential for good quality sleep. Use a sleep mask if you don’t have blackout blinds or curtains to make sure disturbing light, especially moonlight, can’t impact your sleep
  2. Invest in your rest. There are plenty of sleep accessories out there that will help you drift off into a deep sleep night after night. Weighted blankets can do just that, whilst also easing stress and anxiety and helping restless legs. View our weighted blanket
  3. It’s all about your sleep space; specifically, your bed. A good night’s sleep is near impossible on an uncomfortable mattress. Upgrade your mattress and bedding to ensure you’re getting the comfort and support you need for a great night’s sleep. View our range of mattresses

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