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Question Your World: Could the Moon Impact Our Sleep?

Without the moon life on Earth would be vastly different. This celestial neighbor has a significant impact on the tides on our planet, which in turn are linked together with a ton of various functions here. Humans are 75% water, so could the moon have an impact on our lives? Check out the latest Question Your World Radio Report from the Science Museum of Virginia.

A long time ago it was commonly accepted that a full moon made people go insane. This is where the term ‘lunatic’ came from. After much scientific analysis and research it was concluded that humans are totally nuts with or without the presence of a full moon. For example a lunar cycle has no impact on water cooler gossip, people’s fascination with cat photos, or binge watching the entire series of Hee Haw on a sick day. These are all just examples of humans being, well, human. However, despite the evidence that our celestial neighbor has no real impact on our sanity, there are some that believe that the lunar cycle may impact our sleep schedule

Recently Swiss scientists have been spending some time studying the moon’s impact on our natural sleep cycle and the results are pretty amazing. Researchers from the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Baesel conducted a study in a circadian rhythm laboratory to hone in on some measurable impacts that the moon may or may not have on a human's resting stages. In this study they observed that subjects were experiencing 30% less deep-sleep activity on the nights of full moons. In addition to this they noticed that their subjects also were sleeping about five minutes later than they usually would and for about twenty minutes less throughout the night. 

One of the aspects of this research that makes this whole study interesting is that the subjects were all totally unaware of the lunar cycle and were in an environment that did not lend itself to showing the moon's phases. These subjects were reacting as they naturally would with no variables of time of month or lunar phase to impact their participation. The scientists involved in this research have said that this is not a final conclusion, but a first of many tests. Regardless, this is an interesting set of results which could lead to an entirely new field of research on connecting our schedules to the cycle of the natural world. After all there are animals that base their vital life functions around the lunar cycles such as turtles and fish, but do humans fall into that category as well?  Perhaps this research is the first step in trying to answer these types of questions.

Article by Prabir Mehta, Science Museum of Virginia

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