Does the moon really have an impact on our sleep?

There are many popular beliefs about the moon and its influence on us. You’ve probably heard that more babies are born during a full moon or that our hair grows faster. Many people also report having trouble sleeping when the moon is full. A team of researchers has focused on this phenomenon in an attempt to determine if the moon really does affect our sleep.

Until recently, studies in this field had only used a small group of approximately ten volunteers, which meant that the findings were difficult to confirm. In this new study, scientists from the Max Planck Institute analyzed the sleep patterns of 1,265 volunteers for over 2,097 nights, making it more likely to yield significant results. The study involved measuring the electrical activity of the brain using electroencephalography (EEG) on sleeping volunteers. The findings were clear, “Investigating this large cohort of test persons and sleep nights, we were unable to replicate previous findings,” declared Martin Dresler, a neuroscientist who took part in the research. “We could not observe a statistically relevant correlation between human sleep and the lunar phases.”

The team of researchers explained that, among studies that showed no correlation between these two factors, their study was one of the few to be published. Indeed, they identified several similar studies that showed no clear connection between sleep patterns and lunar phases, but which had not been published. When combined, these studies analyzed sleep patterns over more than 20,000 nights.

For a definitive response, Dresler concludes, “carefully controlled studies specifically designed for the test of lunar cycle effects on sleep in large samples are required for a definite answer.”
Source: Dresler et al. Lunar cycle effects on sleep and the file drawer problem. Current Biology, 2014 ; 24(12):R549. Doi : 10.1016/j.cub.2014.05.017

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