There's a reason why you might not be sleeping well at the moment

Marni Dixit
·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·3-min read

If you've been struggling to get a good night's sleep lately, you're not the only one, and it may have something to do with the full moon.

While many lunar effects have been debunked, there are some that are still currently being studied with a new peer-reviewed study in Science Advances finding a correlation between the lunar cycle and the amount of sleep you're getting.

If you've been struggling to get a good night's sleep lately, you're not the only one, and it may have something to do with the full moon. Photo: Getty
If you've been struggling to get a good night's sleep lately, you're not the only one, and it may have something to do with the full moon. Photo: Getty

The study, which was done by scientists at the University of Washington, the National University of Quilmes in Argentina and Yale University looked into the sleeping patterns in two different areas: the first was the Toba-Qom Indigenous communities of rural Argentina, where there is little to no access to artificial light sources and second, a community of college students living in Seattle, Washington.

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They found that even in areas where the city lights drown out the full moon, people's sleeping patterns were still being influenced as the moon progressed through its 29.5-day cycle.

The researchers found people went to bed later and slept the least three to five days before a full moon.

"Although we had hypothesized that sleep would be inhibited during moonlit nights, we were particularly surprised by two findings," lead researcher and University of Washington professor of biology, Horacio de la Iglesia, PhD, told Healthline.

A new peer-reviewed study in Science Advances has found a correlation between the lunar cycle and the amount of sleep you're getting. Photo: Getty
A new peer-reviewed study in Science Advances has found a correlation between the lunar cycle and the amount of sleep you're getting. Photo: Getty

"First, we did not see a maximal inhibition of sleep exactly during the full moon nights, as we had predicted; instead, nocturnal activity increased and sleep was shortest starting a few nights before the night of full moon."

He explained that he believed this was because more moonlight was available during the first half of the night, which isn't the case in the nights that follow the full moon as the moon rises later every night.

"Second, we were extremely surprised to find that the effect, although smaller, was present regardless of the access to electricity, and in fact, even in university students living in Seattle!" he said.

Despite the fact the researchers found that we do lose sleep around the full moon, they're still not 100 per cent sure why this is the case.

Dr Alex Dimitriu, founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine, told the publication he believed the increase in evening or nighttime light might be the reason for the disruption to sleep because it suppresses melatonin, AKA the sleep hormone.

Will this lack of sleep affect your health?

According to Dr Dimitriu, if you lose around 20 to 30 minutes of sleep and you normally get between seven and eight hours sleep you'll probably be fine.

However, if you sleep for fewer than seven hours or often don't sleep very well, it could become problematic.

"Healthy sleepers will most likely do just fine with a minor decrease in their total sleep time. For people with insomnia, thin, or unrefreshing sleep, a loss of 20 minutes can be adding insult to injury," he said.

Things like phones and other artificial light sources like TVs are likely doing more harm than moon phases, he explained.

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