On the night before a full moon, people fall asleep later and sleep less, the study suggests

Moon. Credit: University of Washington

For centuries, humans have blamed the moon for our moods, accidents, and even natural disasters. But new research indicates that the celestial companion of our planet completely affects our sleep.

Published in a letter on 27 January Science advanceScientists at the University of Washington, the National University of Quilmes and Yale University in Argentina report that people sleep during a 29.5-day lunar cycle: people fall asleep later in the days leading up to a full moon. Sleep in the evening and for short periods of time. The research team, led by a UW professor of biology Horacio de la Iglesia, observed these variations between sleep onset time and sleep duration in urban and rural settings, from indigenous communities in northern Argentina to college students in Seattle. Over 750,000. They observed oscillations regardless of a person’s access to electricity, although there are fewer variations among individuals living in urban environments.

The ubiquity of the pattern may indicate that our natural circadian rhythm is synchronized in some way – or enters the phases of the lunar cycle.

De La Iglesia said, “We see a clear lunar modulation, in which sleep is reduced and sleep begins in the days before a full moon.” “And although the impact is stronger in communities without access to electricity, the impact exists in communities with electricity, including undergraduates at the University of Washington.”

Using wrist monitors, the team tracked sleep patterns among 98 individuals living in three Toba-Qum indigenous communities in the Argentine province of Formosa. Communities for electricity use varied during the study period: one rural community did not have access to electricity, another rural community had only limited access to electricity – such as a source of artificial light in dwellings – while one The third community was located in an urban setting and had full access to electricity. For about three-quarters of the Toba-Qum participants, researchers collected sleep statistics for one to two full lunar cycles.

Previous studies by de la Iglesia’s team and other research groups have shown that the effects of lightning affect sleep, which researchers have also seen in their study: Toba-Cume later went to bed in an urban community and Villagers slept less than participants, with limited or no access to electricity.

The nights before the full moon, people fall asleep later and sleep less, the study suggests

New research shows that on the night before a full moon, people sleep less and on average go to bed later. The ubiquity of the pattern, which was observed in urban and rural settings, may indicate that our natural circadian rhythm is somehow synchronized with the phases of the lunar cycle. This visualization is interactive: https://tableau.washington.edu/views/LunarCycleandSleep/LunarCycle. Credit: Rebecca Gourley / University of Washington

But study participants in all three communities also showed sleep oscillations as the moon progressed through its 29.5-day cycle. Depending on the community, the total amount of sleep varies from an average of 46 to 58 minutes in the lunar cycle, and is seen in bed for about 30 minutes. For all three communities, on average, people had to go to the latest bed and the lowest amount of sleep on the full moon in three to five days.

When they discovered this pattern among Toba-Qom participants, the team analyzed the sleep-monitor data of 464 Seattle-area college students that were collected for a separate study. They found the same oscillations.

The team confirmed that the evening lasts until the full moon – when participants slept at least and went to bed at the latest – more natural light is available after the evening sets in: the waxing moon rises faster as it moves toward the full moon, And usually rises in the late afternoon or evening, setting it high in the sky in the evening after sunset. The latter of the full moon phase and the latter moons also emit significant light, but in the middle of the night, since the moon rises so late in the evening at those points in the lunar cycle.

“We believe that the patterns we observe are a spontaneous adaptation that allows our ancestors to take advantage of this natural source of evening light, which occurs at a specific time during the lunar cycle,” lead author Leandro Casiraghi , Said the Department of Biology, a UW postdoctoral researcher.

Whether the moon affects our sleep has been a controversial issue among scientists. Some studies only hint at lunar effects that are contradictory by others. De la Iglesia and Cassiragi believe that this study showed a clear pattern in part as the team monitors to collect planned wrist sleep data, as opposed to user-reported sleep diaries or other methods. More importantly, they tracked individuals across the lunar cycle, filtering out some of the “noise” in the data due to individual differences in sleep patterns and large differences in sleeping patterns between people without access to electricity Helped.

These lunar effects may also explain how the use of electricity causes such obvious changes in our sleep patterns, de la Iglesia said.

“In general, artificial light disrupts our innate circadian clocks in specific ways: it makes us go to sleep later in the evening; it makes us sleep less. But usually we go in the morning, at least artificial light Don’t use it. Not voluntarily. Those are the same patterns we saw here with the phases of the moon, “de la Iglesia said.

“At certain times of the month, the moon is an important source of light in the evening, and it must have been clearly evident to our ancestors thousands of years ago,” said Kasiragahi.

The team found a second, “semilunar” oscillation of sleep patterns in the Toba-Qom communities, which seemed to modify the main lunar rhythm with a 15-day cycle around new and full moon phases. This semilunar effect was small and only noticeable in the two rural Toba-Qom communities. Future studies will confirm the effect of this quasi-potential, which may suggest that these lunar rhythms are due to effects other than light, such as the moon’s maximum gravitational “tug” of new and full rays on Earth. According, according to Kasirgi.

Despite the researchers said, the lunar impact team would carry the sleep effects discovered.

“In general, there has been much skepticism over the idea that moon phases can affect sleep-like behavior – even if there is a high amount of light pollution in urban settings, you won’t know what the moon phase is until You go outside or look out of the window, ”said Cassiragi. “Future research should focus on: Is it acting through our innate circadian clock? Or are there other cues that affect sleep timing? There is much to understand about this effect.”

Access to electricity is associated with less sleep

more information:
L. Kasirgahi al al., “Moonstruck Sleep: Synchronization of Human Sleep with the Moon Cycle Under the Field”. Science advance (2021). Advances. sciencemag.org/lookup… .1126 / Sciadv.abe0465

Provided by University of Washington

Quotes: On the night before the full moon, people fall asleep later and sleep less, study shows (2021, 27 January) on 28 January 2021 https://phys.org/news/2021-01-nights-full-moon – reclaimed people-bed from. html

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