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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, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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