Folklore grieves the Moon with major responsibilities: mood, spikes in crime, and even psychosis are blamed on Earth’s only continuous natural satellite. But can the “lunar effect” interrupt sleep?
Scientists have long understood that human activity is facilitated by light, whether it is sunlight, moonlight or artificial light. But one study shows that our sleeping capacity is affected differently by the lunar cycle, even taking into account artificial sources of light.
Using wrist monitors, researchers tracked sleep patterns in 98 individuals living in three indigenous communities in Argentina over the course of one to two months. One rural community had no access to electricity, another rural community had limited access to electricity, while a third community was located in an urban setting and had full access to electricity.
Participants from the three communities showed the same pattern of sleep oscillations as the moon moves through its 29.5-day cycle, with sleep duration varying from 20 to 90 minutes, and bedtime from 30 to 80 minutes. Change.
In each community, the peak of participants sleeping less and staying up later occurs in the three-to-five-day period until the full moon night, and conversely the nights that precede the Amavasya, which the authors found.
The data was somewhat surprising, as the initial expectation was less sleep and more activity on the full moon night, said study author Horacio de la Iglesia, a professor of biology at the University of Washington. “But it turns out that the nights before the full moon are the ones that are most moonlighted during the first part of the night.”
Unexpectedly, the data showed that a “lunar phase effect” appeared on sleep, which was stronger than more limited access to electricity.
In an effort to corroborate their findings, the researchers compared their results to data collected from 464 Seattle-based students studying at the University of Washington. They found similar oscillations in sleep patterns.
“Together, these results strongly suggest that human sleep is synchronized with lunar phases regardless of ethnic and socio-cultural background and level of urbanization,” the researchers wrote in the journal Science Advance.
De la Iglesia said: “We humans believe that we have somehow managed to control nature, and the use of artificial light is a great example of this. But it turns out that there are some forces of nature that We can not be far away.
Dirk-Jan Dijk, a professor of sleep and physiology and director of a sleep research center at the University of Surrey, said the researchers had not addressed intrinsic influences such as circadian clocks that might affect sleep patterns.
Previous research on the Moon’s effects on sleep has been inconsistent: studies have reviewed sleep in the laboratory (where external light is shielded) and most are not specifically designed to see the effects of the Moon, Dr. Said Ciro della Monica, a research fellow at the Surrey Sleep Research Center.
Della Monica stated, “This study is very interesting, but as the authors themselves point out, they cannot establish causation.” “However, the data are robust and novel.”