Phases of moon dictate our sleep patterns: Study

WION Web Team
Washington, United StatesEdited By: Vyomica BerryUpdated: Jan 28, 2021, 08:52 AM IST
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The moon is seen over Panama City Photograph:(AFP)

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The findings of the study reflect that in the days leading up to the full moon, people go to bed later and sleep less

Our sleep patterns are affected by the pushes and the pulls of moon tides, as per the latest study published in Science Advances.

The findings of the study reflect that in the days leading up to the full moon, people go to bed later and sleep less. A lunar cycle takes 29.5 days to complete.

Changes in each participant’s sleep duration across the lunar cycle ranged from 20 to more than 90 min and did not differ considerably between groups.

The participants of the study live in environments ranging from a rural setting with and without access to electricity in indigenous Toba/Qom communities in Argentina to a highly urbanised postindustrial setting in the United States.

Sun and moon data for the Ingeniero Juárez region through the dates of recording were obtained from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory HORIZONS Web-Interface

It is primarily moonlight available during the first hours of the night that is more likely to drive changes in the onset of sleep. In contrast, moonlight late in the night, when most individuals are typically asleep, should have little influence on sleep onset or duration.

While the sun is the most important source of light and synchronizer of circadian rhythms for almost all species, the moonlight also modulates nocturnal activity in organisms.

Moonlight is so bright to the human eye that it is entirely reasonable to imagine that, in the absence of other sources of light, this source of nocturnal light could have had a role in modulating human nocturnal activity and sleep.

Before the availability of artificial light, the moonlight was the only source of light sufficient to stimulate nighttime activity; still, evidence for the modulation of sleep timing by lunar phases is controversial.

The study shows that sleep starts later and is shorter on the nights before the full moon when moonlight is available during the hours following dusk. 

Both the duration and the time of sleep onset showed a clear modulation throughout the moon cycle that was evident in the whole population, as well as in the individual communities. 

The study predicts that in communities without access to electricity, moonlit nights would be associated with increased nocturnal activity and decreased sleep.

The amplitude of the lunar phase effect on sleep parameters appears to be stronger the more limited the access to electric light is.