HomeHealthResearchers suggest the lunar cycle has an effect on sleep
Researchers suggest the lunar cycle has an effect on sleep
February 1, 2021
People's sleep cycles oscillate during the 29.5-day lunar cycle – on the nights before a full moon, people go to bed later and sleep for shorter periods.
This is the main conclusion of a study published in the journal Science Advances led by the University of Washington, Yale University (both in the United States) and the National University of Quilmes, in Argentina.
Observations of sleep variations were verified in both urban and rural settings: specifically, in indigenous communities in the north of Argentina and in Seattle university students.
Furthermore, these oscillations were seen regardless of access to electricity of participants, although these were less pronounced in people living in urban settings.
The omnipresence of the pattern may indicate that natural circadian rhythms are "somehow" synchronized with the phases of the lunar cyclesummarize the authors in a statement from the University of Washington.
To reach these conclusions, the researchers used wrist monitors to follow the sleep patterns of 98 people from three indigenous communities in the Argentine province of Formosa.
The communities differed in their access to electricity: one did not have it, another had it limited and a third was located in an urban environment, with full access to electricity (previous studies had found that the availability of electric light influences sleep, which was also found in this study) .
For most participants, data on sleep was collected for one or two complete lunar cycles: all research participants showed sleep oscillations as the moon progressed through its 29.5-day cycle.
Depending on the community, the total amount of sleep varied throughout the lunar cycle by an average of 46 to 58 minutes, and at bedtime it oscillated by about 30 minutes; In all three communities, people went to bed later and slept less on the nights three to five days before the full moon.
When they discovered this pattern, the team analyzed sleep data from 464 college students from Seattle, which had been collected for another work, and found the same variations, according to the authors, who recall that the nights preceding the full moon have more natural light available after sunset.