Full Moon Insomnia: Does The Moon Affect Your Sleep?

full moon

Can you remember how well you slept the last time there was a full moon?

Do you feel that when the moon shines brightest, things just don’t seem quite right?

If so, you’re not alone. Despite very limited scientific evidence, millions of people believe that the moon holds an uncanny power over them.

In this article, I’ll be looking at why people feel the moon has such an influence over them, as well as studies that have been done into this worldwide belief.

Then you can make your own decision as to whether or not you think you’ll sleep differently when the next full moon comes around.

Not just superstitious people

Even casual exposure to the emergency services, law enforcement, teaching or social care will involve contact with firm believers in the adverse effects of a full moon.

From hospitals to police stations, the full moon is sometimes blamed for everything from poor sleep patterns to an increase in accident numbers to sudden psychotic episodes.

Some serious, professional, highly trained individuals are certain the moon affects us. In 2011, researchers published an astonishing figure in the World Journal of Surgery:

More than 40% of medical staff is convinced that lunar phases can affect human behavior

The team then looked into medical data to see if there were any notable changes on typically superstitious days, but found none:

Scientific analysis of our data does not support the belief that moon phases, zodiac signs, or Friday 13th influence surgical blood loss and emergency frequency.

The Transylvania effect

The Transylvania Effect is a term first coined in academic literature in the 1990s. It describes the belief that the lunar cycle can produce both psychologically and physiologically disturbances in people and populations.

The belief that the moon exerts a direct influence on the body and mind can be traced back to pre-Christian times.

Pliny the Elder, Roman author, naturalist, and philosopher believed that because the full moon caused heavy dew it must also make the brain become “unnaturally moist”.

That was how, he claimed, the moon caused both epilepsy and lunacy. Hippocrates noted that “no physician should be entrusted with the treatment of disease who was ignorant of the science of astronomy”.

And in across various languages, the word lunatic has its root in the moon. The old English word for lunatic was monseoc, which literally means ‘moon sick’.

In the 21st century, we perpetuate lunar myths in our entertainment and our media. From books to films, from memes to light-hearted end of the world news stories, we constantly repeat the tropes of the Moon’s effect on behavior.

Ancient Calendars

earliest lunar calender

The very earliest calendars were based on the cycles of the moon, with the sighting of the new moon indicating a new phase in the year.

Marks on the walls of the prehistoric painted caves at Lascaux in France are believed by Dr. Michael Rappenglueck, of the University of Munich, to be the earliest lunar calender.

The series of dots and squares painted among the 15,000 year old drawings of bulls, horses and antelopes represent the 29 day lunar cycle.

Most pre-modern calendars were lunisolar, combining the solar year with the lunar year. The Julian calendar abandoned this in favor of a purely solar reckoning. However, the Islamic calendar opted for a purely lunar one.

It should be noted that lunar calendars have always been particularly popular among agricultural societies. This may well be the foundation for our belief that we sleep less during the full moon.

All full moons rise around the time of sunset. But the so-called “harvest moon” and “hunter’s moon”, which occur during the agriculturally busy late summer and autumn in the northern hemisphere behave in a notable way.

They move across the sky in a way that means there’s no long period of darkness between sunset and moonrise for several days around the full moon.

So our belief in restless sleep on full moon nights may stem from a long-held belief that we should be out working under the full moon.

Is there scientific evidence that the full moon influences behavior?

In nature, we can prove lunar rhythms – for example, the triggering of the spawning of the coral on the Great Barrier Reef around the full moon in December.

But with regard to humans, there is very limited scientific evidence to match the vast amounts of anecdotal stories and superstitious beliefs.

Research offers hope that the full moon really affects sleep

The closest a study came to actual evidence was a research study in 2013, carried out at the University of Basel in Switzerland.

Interestingly, the original purpose of the study had nothing to do with the moon. Instead, the researchers retrospectively analyzed the effect of the full moon on 33 volunteers who had slept in a sleep lab during the original research.

The lab was darkened at the time too, so the direct influence of brighter light, and participant’s knowledge of the full moon, was reduced.

The results were certainly fascinating. On the nights that there was a full moon, it was found that:

  • Volunteers took 5 minutes longer to fall asleep.
  • They had 20 minutes less total sleep.
  • They spent 30% less time in the deep sleep phase.

The study author, Prof Christian Cajochen, proposed that since the participants probably weren’t aware of the full moon, perhaps we are naturally attuned to the lunar cycle, saying:

The lunar cycle seems to influence human sleep, even when one does not see the Moon and is not aware of the actual moon phase.

Whilst intriguing, the research hasn’t been without criticism. Perhaps most importantly, 33 people is a very small sample and subsequent research with more participants has not replicated the results.

Research shows no lunar effect

In 2014, a team of researchers took note of the Basel research and also re-analyzed the data from three large samples in different studies. But their results were completely different:

…in a re-analysis of sleep electroencephalography (EEG) data in three large samples, we were unable to replicate their findings.

In 2015, Swiss researchers recorded the sleep of 2125 individuals using polysomnogram at home. Once again, they found no change in people’s sleep based on the moon:

Our large population-based study provides no evidence of a significant effect of lunar phases on human sleep.

And in 2016, a large international study looked at the sleep of 5812 children aged 9 to 11, in 12 countries.

Although they did find that overall sleep time was 1% less on average during full moon, they question how significant that really is, concluding:

In conclusion, sleep duration was 1% shorter at full moon compared to new moon, while activity behaviors were not significantly associated with the lunar cycle in this global sample of children. Whether this seemingly minimal difference is clinically meaningful is questionable.

Conclusion

red full moon

The belief that the moon can influence the human body may be largely founded on misconceptions then.

Some suggest that because the moon has a profound effect on the tides, it might also have an effect on humans since we are comprised mainly of water.

In actual fact, the moon exerts a very weak tidal force on uncontained water. Astronomer George O. Abell claims that a mosquito would exert more gravitational pull on your arm than the moon would on your body.

There’s no established scientific link between the full moon and sleep patterns. Maybe there was in the past when the bright moonlight allowed us to work later into the night.

But it’s something we left behind when we lit our houses and streets, and set about controlling our environment.

Or perhaps it’s a lingering legend from the days when something as otherworldly as the full moon in the sky just had to mean something!

Your thoughts

Do you feel that the moon influences how well you sleep? Does the full moon appear to affect your or someone you know’s behavior? Let me know in the comments below.

203 thoughts on “Full Moon Insomnia: Does The Moon Affect Your Sleep?”

  1. Took me awhile to realize I would have trouble sleeping on seemingly random nights but started noticing it was always happening near the time of a full moon! To all the other commenters: I feel your pain at least we aren’t alone in this.

  2. I’m in my 70’s and have had moon insomnia all my life. Have gone as many as 72 hours with maybe 2-3 hours total sleep.
    It does not just sleep that is affected. As an R.N. working in a nursing home, this would be the time the old folks would take a hike. You would find them strolling down the street. In the hospital setting, babies were born, old and very ill passed away and others would be aggressive and climbing over the guard rails. We always made sure we had more staff on full moons, cause everyone just went nuts for a few days–including us.

  3. I noticed this as a child. Instead of trying to sleep I utilise the heightened arousal. Trying to sleep is too tiring for me. I’m better off doing something relaxing and mildly engaging, leaving myself an hour and half or three to sleep.
    When I was a kid or when I have no work, I’d go out in the garden just before the sun rises for another boost. Wait for the sun to go down, sleep forever, awaken renewed.
    Be warned you may not recognise yourself as you do now if you wish to try this. If you do and you don’t, don’t worry you’re an elastic band, they mostly snap back.

  4. I am awake all night the 2 days surrounding a full moon.
    It’s 6 am and just now starting to get a little tired.
    Will ruin my day tomorrow.

    1. My husband and I couldn’t sleep last night. We joked about how it might have been a full moon. We found out that it was actually black moon.

  5. I don’t monitor the phases of the moon, however, it seems that during the week leading up to a full moon I sleep very poorly. The immediate night before the full moon I actually sleep quite well. Weird!

  6. I don’t sleep well in general but for the past 3 months I’ve noticed that on the night of the fuĺl moon it takes me hours longer to fall asleep and I tend to get hours less sleep. Then the following night I don’t seem to sleep at all.

  7. I had to search for a site this morning after an awful nights tossing and turning, then when I did get some shuteye, I had the most vivid dreams. My room is pitch black because I have outdoor roller shutters and I put in super earplugs which block out everything. I currently have mice/rats in my roof space so wear them due to that, but even those critters were more loud than usual. I’m in Perth in Western Australia, glad I’m not alone in this not sleeping. I’ve also realized that my past few nights sleep haven’t been great either.

  8. I struggle with insomnia on a regular basis but have learned to live with it. There ARE certain nights that I ‘sleep’ absolutely horribly and when I look up in the sky, its a full moon 99% of the time. I don’t make a practice of tracking the lunar cycle but my body sure does!! Thank you for sharing this information. I don’t feel so crazy!!

  9. This is not the first time am noticing such a reaction. Am just curious what was really going on. I hardly sleep when the full moon is up. Firstly thought is was Fever but can’t be having fever whenever the full moon stands. I think the moon does have a great connection with our body. Perhaps maybe we that feel this way are from the werewolf family. LOL. Just saying.

    1. Me Elisabeth Trost

      I definitely don’t sleep well the nights leading up to the full moon. I noticed this a few years ago and even if I try to ignore the lunar cycle, I end up knowing when the full moon is coming because of my restless sleep.

  10. Here I am unable to sleep at all, constantly tossing and turning. My body feels like it’s tired and wants to rest but I haven’t been able to attain a second of REM sleep or dream at all. I am 4 months and one week pregnant and perhaps it has more sensitive than ever and I cannot get not even a half hour of rest.

    1. I never check on the calendar to see if it is full moon. However, I notice every month that I cannot sleep, and when I check the calendar I see that the full moon will be out shortly. I find that I sleep less about 3-5 days before the full moon. It certainly affects me.

  11. well I am wide awake in south Australia with the full moon bright. 4:40 am have not slept, cannot sleep, maybe it could be my menopausal hot sweats or the moon or both I don’t know omg.

  12. I live in the Sierra mountains. I should’ve been sleeping well but I woke myself up multiple times with tossing and turning. Finally, around 4 am I got out of bed and saw how bright it was outside with the “super” moon illuminating all the snow. I put on my coat and walked outside to get a better glimpse of its position, and stood out there staring at it momentarily. It occurred to me that when the full moon rises earlier in the evening and passes across the sky above head, my sleep is not so disturbed. However, when it rises later and I don’t catch a glimpse of it before going to bed, it seems as though it will disturb my sleep to some extent in a range of ways. For example, it could be as subtle as a headlift and awareness of a bright moon outside then falling back asleep easily. Or, occasionally it will be the more agitating response of constantly tossing and turning as though I have childhood “growing pains” in my limbs until I must get out of bed and go outside to see exactly where the moon is in the sky.
    It’s now 5:30am, and I’m sure the moon has finally moved further along its path and away from me. My body doesn’t feel as agitated…I may even fall back asleep, finally

    1. So it’s March 19th 2019 @ 1:34 am when I found this site and started my reply with a tear in eye I know I’m not the only one out there. I’m 43 and from Southern Ontario Canada. I went to bed at 10:30 after a long day on the road traveling. But knowing what this evening was going to entail for me. Not by the Almanac but by accidentaly looking up in the sky when I stepped out of my car. Into the sky to see that translucent moon setting up its chess pieces ounce again for me. I know what the rest of the evening is going to entail. It begins with tossing and turning and the crazy abnormal thoughts and feels like a one-sided Punch & Judy show in my head. This is when I opened my laptop pored a Vodka and started my search and found this site. All my friends think I’m crazy when I mention the moon. I read the first post and here is my story about that bright person that don’t sleep until sunset.

      1. You are not crazy! Ha ha. I live in Winnipeg for the last 5 years, and yes, I feel strong lunar influence, agitation, insomnia. The funny thing is I KNOW it’s the moon, because during the day I can feel perfectly well, and as the night falls around the full moon, I feel agitated, snappy, and then unable to sleep for about 2-3 days, even when I wake up super early and am tired. Moon affects everything, it affects the plants, the sea, the animals– why wouldn’t it affect us? We are all synced with a monthly cycle. There are many things for which there is no scientific evidence, but that means nothing to me. We have intuition, people, that is tuned in directly with the cosmos, while the scientific instruments can only detect measurable things, and are hence extremely limited. It’s just like when people go to the doctor with all these symptoms, and the doc tells them nothing is wrong with them, because their tests read “normal”. Yet, human feel when we are in imbalance, and luckily some of us decide to do something about it despite all the scientific evidence against it:)

        1. I have had this problem for years.
          If I’m having problems sleeping or feel agitated I never allow myself to look out to see if it’s a full moon afraid it will mentally make going
          asleep worse. When I would tell people about it they would roll their eyes at me or just say that is crazy. Now in the last couple of years, it is affecting my daughter in the very same way. I text her it’s morning and ask her she slept last night and she said the moon had kept her awake till early in the morning for
          the last 3 nights, just glad to know I’m not the only one tossing and turning on those nights. I don’t just think the full moon affects me. I know it does, most time I never know it’s a full moon till I see it the next morning.

      2. Due to medications I take known to cause insomnia, I keep a record of their effect on my sleep as I’m also prescribed Ambien for nightly use. Without a doubt, my records show that 1 or 2 days before a full moon, I have difficulty falling asleep. Last night I basically couldn’t fall asleep until 7:30 am. You’re right, other people think we’re crazy, but I’m glad I found this site to know I’m not the only one. Except, I live in Ohio, not Canada.

        1. I am the same way. It’s always the day before, day of and day after and my family knows it makes me severely irritated for no reason. They’re like oh crap a full moon is coming and I also take ambien to sleep but during these 3 nights ita of little use.

          1. So many people having trouble with this! We have got an almost 2 year old shocking sleeper but over the last moon phases I have actually come to realize that it gets way worse about 3 days out from the full moon. He will wake even more, be super restless and hard to get back to sleep. I am continuously tired as it is but starting to dread the full moon. I have always known my sleep has less quality as such when the moon is full, but our little one is taking this to a whole new level. Anybody have any suggestions what could help? Crystals I have read but got no experience with, we do use essential oils but nothing helps with the moon and we all end up so drained and tired! I do love the mystery of the moon but not this not sleeping!

    2. For as long as I can remember, or around the age of 4. I’ve had sleepless spells that would last about 3-7 days. Followed by a 24-48 hr. “Hibernation” of SOLID DEEP SLEEP. I remember once when I was 6 I slept 24+ hrs, while we stayed a weekend with my maternal grandmother. I woke up around 9 p.m. and overheard my grandmother telling my Mom that it “Just wasn’t NORMAL” for ANYONE to sleep for that amount of time. My Mom simply told her that it was “just the way I was”. As a pre-teen, I would experience 1-3 nights straight with NO SLEEP at ALL. I would either stay awake in my room and read books all night, or my FAVORITE thing to do was sneak out my window and prowl around OUTSIDE ALL NIGHT(I HAVE NEVER BEEN AFRAID OF THE DARK). As a teen, my room was detached from the House (a totally different building) giving me even more night prowling freedom. That’s when I first noticed that it ALWAYS occurred around a full moon. In the 3-7 nights leading up to a full moon I AM ALWAYS restless/sleepless. On the night of, and the first night after I NEVER sleep more than 1-3hrs(and always at, or just before sunrise) if I even sleep at all. In my early to mid twenties, I found that if I would go outside with my shirt off and “MOON-BATH” for 30+minutes (between midnight and 4:00 a.m.) It would soothe my “RESTLESSNESS”. I could then fall asleep, or at least lay still and rest comfortably on the nights I don’t SLEEP ALL. A few years back I mentioned this technique to my Praternal GrandMother (she had 50 +years experience in the medical field), and she told me my GrandFather would do the same exact thing with the exact same results. I never have to look at a lunar calendar to tell the moon’s phase. When “super” or “super blood” moons occur it multiplies my hyperactivity tenfold. I’ve done my own extensive research on the subject. There is no “scientific proof” supporting my condition that I call “Lunar Insomnia”, or that “moon-bathing” can have an affect on the Human body. BUT speaking from my own personal experience I feel that there IS. I’m soo glad I found this article. Not so much for what it had to say, but reading other people’s comments is reassuring. It lets me KNOW that I’m not ALONE……Well, it’s just about time to go outside and catch some “moon rays”…. Keep on keeping on Ya’ll

  13. The moon, without a doubt, affects my sleep… Last night, for instance… I may have managed a couple of hours sleep. Tonight I will get even less sleep. It’s the same way every month for me.

    I have one friend who is a police officer and another friend who is an ER nurse. They BOTH have confirmed that the moon cycles affect human behavior. More crazy behavior during a full moon and more people in the ER with injuries due to fighting, stabbing and GSWs.

  14. It sure keeps me from sleep, has for years. Sometimes I’m short tempered and other times I feel more like I’m missing something from the past.

  15. I have always been affected by the full moon. I usually don’t even know till I toss and turn for hours. It never fails. Since a child I was amazed to see the full moon. I’m 59 now and never changed. The thing is I don’t know it’s a full moon till I can’t fall asleep then boom there it is. My heap pounds, it’s beautiful, I feel drawn to it. It kinda made me feel weirdly comforted to know I’m not alone.

    1. I agree with you. If I have a restless night, I always look to see if it is around the full moon and most of the time it is. I don’t get much sleep and if I do it is extremely light sleep. Tonight is a prime example!

      1. Totally agree. Tonight is a prime example. Felt restless and agitated for no reason; did everything I know to settle down, then thought “I bet it’s full moon! “. Got my laptop out as it is cloudy and yes, right on the button. FULL MOON. My body knows it’s full moon even if my conscious mind isn’t. This phenomena is real.

  16. Georgina Livingstone

    This has only been with me the last four years that I’m really aware of. But I’m not a great sleeper and get up to urinate about five times and. never get a great nights sleep.

  17. I have sleep issues the day before the full moon and the day after the full moon. So hopefully tonight I will finally get a full nights rest. Three nights of insomnia and I’m about ready to drop. Every cycle this happens and I’ve had a hysterectomy years ago so this no longer my own cycles tied to the moon.

  18. I am awake and theres a full moon tonight, I usually sleep well. I’ve used to work in a nightclub and on a full moon there would be chaos compared to other nights. More fights and crazy behavior!

  19. Hello
    I sleep well under full moon actually even better. But I have noticed that when moon is 21-22 days old and does not matter what moon sign I find myself awake or restless all night long.
    I have been keeping track on that for 2 years already.
    I sleep only 4-6 hours every night and falling asleep takes usually max 3-5 minutes. No interruptions before alarm wakes. So I am tired no question about that. Have anybody experienced this or can explain better?

  20. I have a sleep monitoring app that pays attention to my breathing and how my body moves in bed. I’ve been tracking my sleep patterns every night for well over one year. I found myself reading this article due to the alarming upset in my sleep patterns due to the lunar cycle. I haven’t noticed it personally – I don’t pay particular attention although i love a gorgeous moon! So it was shocking to see this tracked data over such a long period of time.

  21. I am generally a good sleeper but have noticed this more and more recently. I have tossed and turned for hours and now wide awake, looked out the window and yep it’s a full moon ? I feel edgy and unsettled and unnaturally warm. Thank god it’s a Friday and I don’t have to get up tomorrow !

    1. I feel just saying I usually don’t even know that it’s a full moon. But I try to sleep in it for 3 AM then the next day someone says did you see the full moon.

  22. And so here I am. Not sleeping. Again. No surprises as to why. It’s a normal occurrence for me around a full moon and fed up tossing and turning I found my way here. At least I’m not alone lol

  23. What a relief it is to read the comments above. For as long as I can remember I have dreaded the full moon each month. At this time I am awake all night and at the most will sleep for an hour at 5:00 or 6:00 A.M. During those long nights I feel anxious and upset and wonder what on earth is wrong with me! Sleeping pills are of no help nor is exercising to the point that on any other night I would feel tired and fall asleep easily. I sometimes function fairly well the next day but there are also times when I am a complete wreck.

    1. Same here, it starts a couple of days before full moon and my sleep because very interrupted but still find some sleep, I don’t even think about the full moon , then out of the blue I simply fail to fall asleep and this get quite bad tossing and turning until I check the moon calender . 99.9% when check I find it’s either full moon night or a night or two before full moon . Last night 20th December was such a night and full moon is on the 22 December. No amount of exercise helps . A night following full moon my sleep gradually returns. It’s such a nuisance I have come to accommodate in my life

  24. I often notice in hindsight that my sleep always suffers around full moons. But I also happen to be about a week away from my monthly cycle when the full moon is out, so I ultimately believe my insomnia to be linked to premenstrual symptoms rather than a phenomenon in nature.

    I just didn’t know until recently that insomnia was a possible premenstrual symptom, so the most plausible explanation had been the full moon influencing me.

  25. Coming up to a full moon I get agitated but more aware less tired ever since I can remember I don’t need to look at the lunar cycle I just know and when it’s a full moon I don’t sleep until it’s over

  26. I’ve had general insomnia for many years. I learned to accept it and say to myself “When I’m tired enough I’ll sleep.” However, my fatigue effected my ability to function at my best and I worried about the long term effect on my health. I searched high and low for a healthy remedy that worked for me. After many years, finally found something healthy that works consistently for me, except during the full moon. 2 nights ago I was dead tired and expected to fall asleep fast. 3 hours later at 2 AM, still wide awake, and frustrated, I pulled back my dark curtains to check outside, discovering it was a full moon. I thought “Of course!” Gave up and got up. My natural remedy has worked for me consistently for a year now, except, also consistently, during a full moon.

    1. May I ask what is something healthy that works consistently for your insomnia because I have the same problem for the past 6 months.

  27. Well I am definitely suffering from this phenomenon, but I’m a physicist so I’ll leave the astrology nonsense at the door. I think that there is something to be said for the brain recognizing the specific photon frequencies from the sun, I believe this activates the brain like a header signal in electronics. So for most people I would say the reflected rays from the moon are just waking you up like the sun and certain people are definitely more sensitive to that.

    Something else that occurred to me, and is the reason I am posting, is that I have had a case of parasites living in my liver, pancreas, and GI track. Modern medicine eventually found and solved the problem however these parasites where regulated by the phases of the moon and would lay eggs during the full moon so I, in turn, would be sick all night on full moons. I wonder if there are more common bacteria / parasitic organisms in the human body that could be excreting toxins on full moons which in turn effect neuro-chemical responses and whatnot.

  28. I never usually have a problem sleeping but here I am reading this at 3am (UK Time) on a night when there’s a full moon. I slept for just over an hour and woke up thinking it was around 6am but it was 11:30pm.
    I’m still wide awake 3.5 hours later and as I said, I never usually have trouble sleeping!

    I’m convinced that the moon has an effect on us based on the amount of water in our bodies, although I have nothing to prove it.

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