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Aug 6, 2013 | Natural News | Ethan A. Huff
So-called "science-based skeptics" have long mocked the idea that human sleeping patterns are in any way affected by lunar cycles -- it all sounds just a little too wacky for their status quo level of cognitive ability. But a new study published in the journal Current Biology supports what the more progressive vein of scientific inquiry has been learning for years, mainly that the human body responds to the changing geophysical rhythms of lunar cycles as a result of its own internal circalunar clock.
To come to this conclusion, researchers from the University of Basel (UB) in Switzerland studied the sleeping patterns of 33 volunteers who were divided into two separate age groups. All the participants slept in a specially designed sleeping laboratory, and while they slept, scientists analyzed their brain patterns, eye movements, and hormone secretion levels during varying stages of the regular lunar cycle.
In the end, the research team observed that, overall, the participants experienced a lower quality of sleep during full moon cycles, even when the moon was not necessarily visible to them. On average, it also took the participants about five minutes longer to fall asleep during a full moon, not to mention the fact that these same participants slept about 20 minutes less on a given night around times when the moon was at its fullest phase compared to other times.
"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," says Christian Cajochen from UB's Psychiatric Hospital, who helped lead the study. "This is the first reliable evidence that a lunar rhythm can modulate sleep structure in humans when measured under the highly controlled conditions of a circadian laboratory study protocol without time cues."
The human body even produces fewer sleep hormones during full moons, according to data
Specifically, the amount of so-called delta wave activity during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep -- delta wave activity is an indicator of deep and restful sleep -- was decreased by about 30 percent during full moon cycles. Both subjective and objective sleep quality was found to suffer during full moon cycles, which could help explain why some people experience seemingly random bouts of poor sleep.
"The only explanation we could come up with is that maybe there is a lunar clock in the brain, as found in other species like fish and other marine animals," adds Cajochen, as quoted by The New York Times (NYT), about the discovery. "But we don't have direct evidence for that."
However, included as part of the study is a graph that shows clear variances in sleep quality depending on the current lunar phase. REM sleep latency, deep slow wave sleep, sleep EEG-Delta activity, and even melatonin production all change during full moons, which suggests that humans do, indeed, possess a unique and inherent lunar sensitivity that modern science is only just now beginning to understand.
You can view that graph here:
You can also view a free abstract of the study here:
Sources for this article include: