Since the dawn of human culture, we have been obsessed with the moon. We created eerie stories about fantastic beasts that come out only when the moon is full, or when there is no moon at all. In most of the mythologies from ancient civilizations, the moon plays a prominent role. Do yourself a favour and do a Google search for lunar deities (or just click on this link). You will see there are a whole lot of them, and they are found on all of the continents. Clearly, humans have some weird fascination with our most prominent nocturnal space body. And rightly so! It governs some major cycles on planet earth. The tide is coupled to the moon cycle, apparently, the female menstrual cycle is also coupled to it…
I mean, in the previous century superpowers spent billions of dollars on trying to put people up there! So I think it is safe to say that the human race has an interest in that big old white light in the night sky.
So, what is my point? What does the celestial body that drives werewolves and vampires our of their dens have to do with sleep? Read on to find out.
Full moon insomnia
Worldwide there seems to be a phenomenon where people struggle to sleep when there is a full moon. Logically, if we didn’t have something like curtains and blinds, it would make sense. Less light usually means more sleep or better sleep. However, with blackout blinds and thick curtains, the light shining down from old Luna shouldn’t have a big effect on how well you sleep. So why are there so many people that complain about being unable to sleep when the moon is full?
There is certainly a lot of speculation out there! Some astrologers say that because the tides are influenced by the lunar cycle, our bodies will be influenced too. If you think about that for a while, it kinda starts making sense. Tides are related to the ocean and rivers, and the ocean is mostly made up of water. So is the human body! A healthy adult’s body contains between 45% and 65% water. Maybe the moon can have an effect on the water in our bodies? Maybe when it is spring tide outside, our bodies react in the same way as the sea?
Some traditional healers and spiritual leaders claim that the energy levels radiated by a full moon influence the human body. According to psychics this spike in energy can leave the body feeling restless at night. They suggest that people bothered by the full moon must take extra measures to prepare for bedtime. Stretch out your sore muscles and breathe slowly before you climb in bed. Instead of putting the lights on, burn some candles.
Is there any scientific evidence for being unable to sleep during the full moon?
So far there is not a lot of scientific literature about the subject. We were, however, able to find one study that supports the fact that the full moon has a negative influence on sleep. In the study, published in the 23rd volume of Current Biology, researchers show that humans seem to sleep less when the moon shines at its brightest.
How did they test for this phenomenon? The scientists found 33 volunteers to undergo the study, but the volunteers were not told what they were being tested for. In other words, the test subjects had no idea what the study was about so that they could not overthink the matter and maybe bias the results. They were stuck in dark rooms and asked to go to sleep. Sounds simple enough, right?
However, the fun began once the volunteers got in bed. The research team used an electroencephalogram (EEG) to monitor the brainwaves of test subjects over a period of time as the test subjects went to bed. Using this technique, they were able to determine that subjects took five minutes longer to fall asleep during the full moon than during the rest of the lunar cycle. Interestingly the research also showed that subjects lost out on 30% of their deep sleep during this lunar phase and on average they slept 20 minutes less than usual. 20 minutes doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you only sleep for seven hours per night, the loss of 20 minutes of restorative sleep can make a big difference to your following day work.
What can we do to ease the pain?
Whether it is scientifically correct or just some form of a placebo effect, the full moon keeps us awake past our bedtime. So what can we do to counteract this problem? Some mystics claim that putting crystals around your bed will absorb the lunar energy and make you sleep better. And who knows, maybe it works? I have never tried it out, so I can’t judge the method! With the next full moon, I’ll take out my array of crystals and put them around my bed to see if it helps me to fall asleep faster. I’ll let you know if it worked for me.
But what if crystals aren’t your thing? Is there anything else that you can do to counteract full moon insomnia? Certainly! You can settle into a proper pre-sleep routine to help you calm down, relax and get in the mood for some serious sleep. How do you go about that, and if you get a bedtime routine and the moon really affects sleep, how will a routine help? Well first off, if the lunar cycle affects our sleep in a negative way, then no amount of preparing will help you to sleep better during a full moon. However, if the effect is just in our heads, there is some light at the end of the tunnel (okay, perhaps not the best idiom to use here).
Here are some simple, yet effective tips on how to get ready for bed:
1. Don’t drink caffeinated drinks for at least five hours before you go to bed.
2. Don’t drink alcohol before you hit the hay.
3. Don’t spend all night nailed to a TV or computer screen. Rest your eyes and read a book by candlelight.
4. Listen to soothing music with a slow tempo to prepare you for dreamland.
I hope this post shed some light on the mysterious phenomenon of full moon insomnia and that you will be able to sleep well the next time that werewolves prowl the night…