Sleepless Night? Blame the Lunar Cycle, Melatonin Production

A full moon may be gaze-worthy, but don’t let it delay your bedtime. A study from Switzerland claims the lunar cycle can determine how quickly you fall asleep and the quality of your slumber. This cycle in turn slows the body’s production of melatonin, which can affect your health.

The Sleep Study
A group of 33 volunteers spent the night at a sleep lab completely unaware of the topic of the study, reported BBC News. During the participants’ time in the laboratory, they didn’t have access to windows to see the moon phase. The room was darkened so no light fluctuations could interfere with the study. Researchers measured the participant’s quality of sleep, and levels of melatonin and cortisol production over a period of two separate nights in the lab.

According to Current Biology which published the findings, “Evidence that the Lunar Cycle Influences Human Sleep”, brain activity that points to deep sleep decreased by 30 percent, it took the volunteers an average of five minutes longer to doze off than usual, and they awoke 20 minutes earlier than expected on evenings illuminated by a full moon.

A Health Concern
In addition to the volunteers getting a poor night’s sleep, the researchers noted a decrease in endogenous melatonin levels during the full moon evenings. This drop can be a health concern, according to board-certified preventive medicine physician Dr. Arlene Noodleman.

“Melatonin has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may boost immunity. Melatonin has a role in bone growth and osteoporosis and has free-radical scavenging effects which may be beneficial to the skin. It may even have protective effects in some cancers,” Noodleman explained in an interview.

When levels of melatonin drop, conditions such as fibromyalgia, depression, cancer, and possibly PMS may increase, Noodleman explained.

But when a good night’s sleep is mandatory, Noodleman recommends qualified patients take melatonin supplements.

“What we do know is that sustained release forms of melatonin may accurately mimic the normal peak of melatonin levels in the middle of the night. I recommend that my patients take 0.3-3 mg of melatonin for insomnia and to improve the quality of their sleep,” she noted.

Next time it feels like morning arrived too soon, peek at the calendar. The lunar cycle might be to blame–not that late night out with the girls!

More From Contributor Angela Tague:

Didn’t Sleep Well? It Could be Harming Your Relationship
Pet Therapy: How Pets Can Help Change Lives for People of All Abilities
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