Does mysterious full moon affect your sleep?

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | General Health | Friday, July 11, 2014 - 06:00 AM

get rid of insomniaA full moon might have a link to some strange behaviors and bad luck, but according to a new study, sleep quality isn’t one of them.

Beliefs that the phases of the moon can influence our sleep cycles – and in particular that a full moon makes sleep difficult or causes insomnia has been a popular line of thinking, but new research shows that it is incorrect.

You can stay up late and appreciate its bold beauty, but then go back to bed for a peaceful night’s rest.

Myth busted: Full moon not connected to sleep quality

Research on the moon and sleep has long varied in its methods and findings. As Science Daily has reported, lunar phases had a much greater effect on women’s sleep more than for men, but other research has had the opposite finding. Two recent studies found that sleep duration was shorter during a full moon, but conflicted in other areas of investigation.

Researchers from Munich’s Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry didn’t find any correlation between sleep and lunar phases, however. The team looked at sleep data from 1,265 volunteers that covered 2,097 nights of sleep.

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“Investigating this large cohort of test persons and sleep nights, we were unable to replicate previous findings,” Martin Dresler, a neuroscientist at Max Planck, said to Science Daily. The team didn’t find evidence of effects of lunar phases on sleep problems like insomnia, and also found unpublished findings on sleep that suggested there may be a publication bias leading to the idea that the moon does in fact influence whether or not we get a good night’s rest.

How to treat insomnia

You may not be able to blame your sleep troubles on the moon, but that doesn’t make them any less real. According to the Mayo Clinic, insomnia is a sleep disorder where the person finds it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep or both. One key factor for diagnosing insomnia is that sleep difficulties are persistent and happen despite ample opportunities for proper sleep.

Keep in mind that just because you have had a couple of nights of bad sleep doesn’t mean that you are an insomniac. Sometimes a bad sleep can just be due to a busy week at work, family arguments or stress.

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Dangers of sleep deprivation

In our hectic society, lack of sleep often is not taken seriously and sometimes worn as a badge of honor that shows that you are tough or too successful to sleep much. But a chronic lack of proper rest can have serious health consequences.

Poor sleep is associated with increased stroke risk, weight gain and depression, for example, and driving while tired can make you more susceptible to having a car accident.

There are a variety of ways that insomnia can be treated. Here are some recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation:

  • Relaxation training and meditation can help you learn to fall asleep more easily and reduce some of the effects of stress from poor sleep.
  • Prepare your bedroom for sleep. Make sure to remove televisions and computers and make sure it’s dark and comfortable at night.
  • Cognitive behavior therapy can help you identify habits and routines that may be keeping you from sleeping well, and give you strategies to make changes.
  • For some people, prescription medication is the right choice, but make sure you speak to your doctor before trying any medication, even if it is over-the-counter.

If you can’t remember the last time you woke feeling rested, don’t blame it on the full moon. Take it seriously and see a doctor.

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