The Full Moon Effect

The Full Moon Effect — Fact or Fiction?

This weekend, Friday night in particular, I noticed that for some odd reason I had trouble sleeping. My co-worker later brought to my attention that not only was there a full moon, but there was also a subtle lunar eclipse. Throughout my childhood many of the women in my family have often treated full moons as some sort of unspeakable taboo. They would carry on during a full moon saying things like “all the crazies out.” A neighbor backing over a tin trash can in a Ford F-150 at 11:00 p.m. was all the affirmation they needed to be convinced that the curse was real. So was my recent sleeping setback due to the full moon effect? Were “the crazies” out to get me in my dreams? Sounds a bit ridiculous, which begs the question: Is there any real scientific evidence to prove or puncture this superstition?

The always reliable Jeremy Dean of PsyBlog recently shared the results of a 2013 study published in Current Biology; the study provided evidence on how the lunar cycle influences sleep in humans. Researchers monitored brain patterns, eye moment, and even hormone secretion of 33 volunteers who were not given any information on current time. Remarkably, not only did deep sleep drop by 30% around a full moon, but participants took longer to fall asleep and slept for 20 minutes less a night. As Jeremy points out, researchers believe there may be some sort of “moon clock” in us that effects our hormones. Professor Christian Cajochen, who spearheaded the study, concluded that: “The lunar cycle seems to influence human sleep, even when one does not ‘see’ the moon and is not aware of the actual moon phase.” With that said, I think it’s safe to say I can blame this weekend’s lack of sleep on the full moon effect. The next full moon will be on November 17th, don’t forget to set your moon clocks and stay away from the crazies.

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