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Not Sleeping Well? Maybe It’s Due To The Full Moon

Not Sleeping Well? Maybe It’s Due To The Full Moon

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) annual survey, both children and adults struggle with interrupted or poor-quality sleep. The reasons can be related to any number of things such as room temperature, light, noise, needy pets or the evening activities that preceded your head coming to the pillow.

But maybe you haven’t heard this one yet. The full moon. And this isn’t some crazy werewolf stuff.

The Experiment

A study in the journal Current Biology from 2000 indicates that a full moon can impact your sleep in a negative way, much like it does the mythical werewolf. Minus the fur and fangs, of course. In the study, 33 participants showed up at the sleep lab where they spent their nights for 3 1/2 days.

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Interestingly, neither the participants nor the researchers were informed that one of the factors was the phase of the moon, which was full.

The participants slept in an extra dark room that insured no extra light from the full moon would be a factor, since researchers had already confirmed the affect of light on one’s sleep. They were hooked up to monitors that recorded how quickly they fell asleep, the amount of time they slept and their brain wave patterns during sleep. When the data returned, it showed that participants got 20 minutes less sleep during the full moon and it took them five more minutes to fall asleep.

The Result

The biggest find was that the participants experienced 30 percent less of that deep life-giving sleep on those nights when there was a full moon. Initially, this study was set up to evaluate melatonin levels and how they connected to sleep. It wasn’t until 2010 though when the researchers realized that this data could also be used to evaluate the full moon’s influence on sleep.

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So it turns out that the full moon was just a lucky coincidence. But why does the full moon affect us this way? Is it the shiny disco ball in the sky effect that gets us going? Even if we can’t see it? Seems doubtful. If the moon does, in fact, influence our sleep patterns, the why behind it is still unclear and more studies are required.

There have already been several studies on the full moon’s effect on epilepsy seizure activity, as well as the numbers of psychiatric and emergency room visits.

The results have varied. Many healthcare workers in emergency rooms and psychiatric hospitals are convinced that a full moon brings an increase in activity and will batten down the hatches accordingly. And that may well be. But studies have not supported this observation.

There has also been no research demonstrating that women are in sync with the lunar cycles. Yet, like the aforementioned healthcare workers, more than a handful of women would dispute this; begging the question as to just how much research has been done in this area.

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What has been linked to the lunar cycle is a greater number of injuries to dogs and cats in the three days surrounding a full moon. There is also an increase in hunting activity in nocturnal wild animals on days following a full moon. Again, no one is sure just why.

One result that the study evaluating sleep disturbances bears out is that during a full moon, there is a reduction in melatonin levels.

There does seem to be no arguing that melatonin is a key factor in your ability to sleep soundly, and it’s naturally regulated by your body when you are exposed to light and dark. But again, the participants were in a completely darkened room, so that still doesn’t explain why there would be a decrease in melatonin.

It’s just one of life’s great mysteries. For now.

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To find out more about melatonin, click here.

Featured photo credit: The Moon by Sids1 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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