Do you have trouble sleeping? The moon phase can be to blame, study results | Science & Tech News
Superstition about the moon has inspired mankind for centuries to blame it for our moods, our minds, and even natural disasters – but new research has shown that it actually affects our sleep.
According to a scientific article published in Science Advances, researchers found that human sleep cycles oscillate during the lunar cycle in both urban and rural areas.
In the days before the full moon, people fall asleep later in the evening and sleep for shorter periods of time, say scientists from the University of Washington, Yale and the National University of Quilmes in Argentina.
The vibrations were observed regardless of whether a person had access to electricity, although the magnitude of the variations was less pronounced in people living in urban environments.
According to the researchers, the effect of the moon appears to be ubiquitous throughout humanity, suggesting that the lunar cycle may be somehow synchronized with the phases of the moon.
“We see a clear lunar modulation of sleep, with sleep decreasing and later on in the days before a full moon,” said Professor Horacio de la Iglesia.
“And while the effect is more robust in communities without access to electricity, the effect is present in communities with electricity, including students at the University of Washington.”
The team used wrist monitors to track the sleep patterns of 98 people living in three Toba Qom indigenous communities in Argentina’s Formosa province.
The three municipalities differed in their access to electricity during the study period, with one rural municipality having no access to electricity, a second rural municipality only limited access to electricity – such as a single artificial light source in dwellings – while a third was in an urban environment and had full access to electricity.
The same results were repeated with 464 college students from the Seattle area who participated in a separate study.
“We believe the patterns observed are an innate adaptation that allowed our ancestors to take advantage of this natural source of evening light that occurred at some point during the lunar cycle,” said lead author Dr. Leandro Casiraghi.
“At certain times of the month, the moon is a significant source of light in the evenings, and that would have been evident to our ancestors thousands of years ago,” he added.
“In general, there has been much suspicion of the idea that the phases of the moon might affect behavior such as sleep – although in urban environments with high levels of light pollution you may not know what the phase of the moon is unless you walk outside or look out of it Window.
“Future research should focus on how: Does it work through our innate circadian clock? Or through other signals that affect the timing of sleep? There is a lot to understand about this effect.”
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