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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 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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