Full Moon Insomnia: Does The Moon Affect Your Sleep?

full moonCan 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 a lack of 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 will be blamed for everything from poor sleep patterns to an increase in accident numbers to sudden psychotic episodes.

Serious, professional, highly trained individuals are certain the moon affects us. In 2011, the World Journal of Surgery stated that more than 40% of medical staff believed lunar phases impacted on human behavior. However, a thorough statistical analysis didn’t back this up.

The moon has been linked in the media to a rise in burglaries, changes in voting patterns, volatile stock market prices, more road accidents, less successful surgeries, and even the numbers of children born.

There’s no scientific proof to back up any of these claims, yet many people still believe the moon is somehow involved.

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.

With the constant media repetition of an association between the full moon and human behaviour it is not surprising that such beliefs are widespread in the general public (Kelly et al. 1996)

Ancient Calendars

earliest lunar calenderThe 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 known calendar.

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.

Anecdotal versus strictly scientific

Anecdotal evidence for a lunar effect isn’t hard to find; some people swear they sleep poorly over the nights of the full moon. And moon madness stories from the front line of those who see humanity at its worst are surprisingly common.

We may publicly dismiss them, but privately we consider them because one captivating anecdote will always stick in the mind better than a host of scientific studies.

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, to date, no scientific study that indicates a lunar influence on behavior has stood up under scrutiny.

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

Under highly controlled conditions, a small sample of 33 healthy adults was recorded as having four minutes less REM sleep over the nights of the full moon.

Unfortunately, the results of the experiment have never been replicated, and the statistically small size of the sample casts doubt on the validity of the results.

Founded on misconceptions

red full moonThe belief that the moon can influence the human body is founded on misconceptions then, it seems.

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.

What research does demonstrate, however, is that many people fall prey to a phenomenon that University of Wisconsin–Madison psychologists Loren and Jean Chapman termed “illusory correlation”.

That is, the perception of an association that doesn’t in fact exist. For example, many people who have joint pain insist that their pain increases during rainy weather, although research shows this to be untrue.

Conclusion

There’s no established scientific link between the full moon and sleep patterns. Maybe there was in the past when the bright moonlight made us restless or 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!

On November 14, 2016, the moon was closer to Earth than it had been since January 26, 1948. It was both a full moon and a ‘supermoon’, and the next time it will be that close to the earth is November 25, 2034.

It was the closest and largest supermoon in 86 years, and there were a lot of headlines written about it in the media: helpful articles on what to expect, whether you should be worried, and how to explain poor sleep.

And so the myth lived on.

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.

129 CommentsLeave a comment

  • 06:11am in dubai ….. wide awake googled sleeplessness and the moon and got here….. I believe that there is a correlation between sleep and full moons. Needs more research. Oh and yes my joints ache when it’s raining. ✋

  • I wondered why I had the worst sleep…if you can call it sleep. I barely did. Tossed and turned couldn’t focus on keeping my eyes closed. Currently sitting wide awake at 6.20am feeling fresh as a Daisy.
    I googled full moon, and we had a strawberry full moon last night. Every time a full moon strikes. I don’t sleep. I swear by it

  • I don’t even keep track of full moon anymore because I thought it might be a psychological thing! ”It’s going to be a full moon, so I won’t be to sleep”
    I literally don’t feel like myself two days before full moon. In the past two nights, I was up till 12:50 and not tired at all!!!:(
    Woke up many many times till 3:00.
    Today I’m exhausted and my brain doesn’t function.

  • Yes the full moon does affect my sleep. It was my son who pointed out to me that my sleeplessness was cyclical. I do not follow the phases of the moon so am not aware of a full moon unless I happen to be out and see it. I cannot sleep and take medication to help me I also have skin complaints which become more intense when there is a full moon. I am not superstitious but just feel that the full moon affects me in so many ways. two days after a full moon my system returns to normal

  • Woke at 12.45pm. Then woke wide awake again at 4.30am. Not even the slightest bit tired. Had this problem with a full moon before. Use the time to read, Work, do your tax returns or exercise-jog-yoga. Def got lots of energy. Bizarre but yes 100% the moon!

  • Ukraine, 27.06.18 2:19 and I can’t sleep because of full moon, also have impressive feelings and it’s not first time can’t sleep because of full moon.

  • I’d very well say that this is possible. I’ve looked into this before and have noticed its never ceased to make me lose sleep. Even now that I’m pregnant..I’m usually exhausted by 9. But this full moon tonight has made it increasingly difficult to become. It’s 3 minutes to 12 on this day and I’m still not tired. It’s completely overridden the whole ‘Pregnancy makes you tired,’ concept. So I have no doubt that yes… I believe the full moon very well has some sort of factor to play in on it.

  • 26/6/18 the moon is at 97.4% and there isn’t anyone in our family of 4 getting any sleep. I’m wondering if it has anything to do with hunting and protecting.
    Sleepless mum.
    Brisbane, Australia.

  • It’s 1:06 am. It’s a full moon in two days..I agree with a lot of experiences that people have mentioned in this comment section. I’m 20 years old. I don’t remember being affected by the moon when I was a kid. Could be due to lack of active hormones. It’s difficult to work out or even think clearly.
    The effects are different for every full moon. Some full moons don’t affect me. Most do. Also the period for which I’m affected varies but the common experiences are less/no sleep body aches, disorientation, high frequency of dream/nightmares. Worst part is when I have tests around the full moon.
    Has anybody tried anything to counter these effects?

  • Moon at 94% full moon on the 28th.
    My kids have been awake since 1am they had 6 hours sleep. I can’t be angry though as the moon effects me too. It’ll be like this every night until the 29th or 30th.
    And there will be lots of little arguments. I find that the best way for me to reset is to walk around barefoot on the grass.

    Sleepless mum in Brisbane.

  • Sleepless in South Africa. The time is 00:04 and I am not in the least bit tired.. I am very excited though. I feel like a child that is expecting a birthday gift or surprise 😂

  • Without question, a full moon affects my sleep. Whether it’s raining or a bright starry night from an early as I can remember if it’s a full moon… I ain’t sleeping well.

    If Science that can’t prove it, it’s the wrong scientists trying to. Nonsense. It’s a factual as my eyeballs are open right now, middle of the night and once again awake on a full moon! 😆

  • Just going through end of May 2018 full moon living in Mexico. It’s my 2nd night of very poor sleep. I thought full moons only affected sleep on that one night but it doesn’t appear this way this month.

  • Thanks Full Moon! Couldn’t sleep last night, definitely can’t sleep tonight and no doubt will follow again tomorrow night as well.

    Full Moon finishes in 2 days, thank god!

    A side note though, I don’t notice it effecting me during the day at work, I still have just as much energy, if not more. Actually while I law here at night my mind won’t stop racing, so many ideas to put knot action. Hmmm makes you ponder what’s out there.

  • I think its pretty clear that the full moon effects some people. And the fact that its only some and not all is why they cant get science to prove it. If they did a new test using people on forums like this at stupid oclock in the mornin, it would be a certainty! P.s. i think it only effects highly sensitive people

  • Count me in as one who is kept awake by the moon beams. Just happened again and due to cloud didn’t even realised it was the waxing moon as has sometimes been the case. It usually is in the Not psyching myself into it as it happens if I am aware of the moon cycle. I would love to be able find out how to beat the moon and get some sound sleep on these nights.

  • My sleep problems begin at the waxing half moon and increase as the moon becomes full. It finally starts to get better about 3 days after a full moon. Poor sleep causes more muscle and joint pain as I suffer from FMS/CFS. The moon also causes increased emotional disturbance and irritability as well as disturbing dreams and nightmares. So roughly half of a moon cycle results in a much lower quality of life and functionality. I even have to schedule vacations between cycles so that I will be able to enjoy time off. So don’t pull the no “scientific” evidence argument on me. I have to live with “moon misery” for two weeks out of the month.

  • Does anyone find that exercise is more difficult right before a full moon? For years now I’ve found this to be the case, along with often feeling more achy right before a full moon.

  • It’s 2h05 and I’m wide awake. Tried to check if it’s a full moon and landed on this site. If ever proof is needed of the moon’s effect on humans, just scrawl down here and you have more than enough proof. No scientific anything needed, period.

    Always thought I’m alone in this. Now I know better.

  • Hello there I agree with the others if I am writing this the moon is in a position that is causing me an issue
    I also do not follow the lunar phase but every time it comes around I can’t sleep. Even the next night or two I am usually affected. I have no clue what causes this. Glad to know I am not the only one.

  • I’ve been trying to sleep since 3 hours and still no luck. It’s 11;49 pm rn and i cant sleep. Its just now that i’ve realized its a full moon and i always have difficulties falling asleep during a full moon.

  • Whenever i have poor sleep I check the moon, approximately 90 percent of the time it’s a full moon. I found this page by checking if it was a full moon last night :)

    • I am the same if I’m up thru the night I check to see if it’s a full moon, both my daughter and myself were up at 2.45am, I usually sleep well but not time if full moon and takes ages to get back to slee

  • I dont care what anyone thinks i dont follow lunar phases but know for a fact when ever me and my children r up all nite it is always a full moon

  • Every time there’s a full moon I either feel more anxious than usual, or my sleep is interrupted. I woke up in the middle of the night just now from a terrible nightmare and now I’m wide awake. I didn’t think anything of it, until I saw online that there was a full moon tonight

  • 29th April couldn’t get to sleep, tossing and turning. I fell asleep 5 am woke at 6.30. It happens every Full Moon.

  • I didnt even know it was full moon until now…..i usually sleep very well and fall asleep in a second but now i have been having huge trouble falling asleep and staying asleep last night and tonight, and just now it occured to me it was fullmoon. And this was not the first time.

  • Starting a few nights before a full moon I sleep badly if at all like last night and I dread sleeping tomorrow night when it is full and my birthday. Even if I sleep with an airline sleep mask I toss and turn. I don’t think it is the light of the full moon–my windows face north and the moon rises over the Atlantic ocean to the east, I think it is some scientifically unexplained energy or “pull” because the mask makes everything pitch black and I still can’t drift off into deep sleep, just very shallow sleep with strange dreams.

    Linda B

    • Its 02:03 and l been wide awake since around 22:30. Tried to ignore it first and its been happening a couple of nights. I landed up on this site.it is full moon and this cant be a coincidence especially that i got nothing particular bothering me.

  • I am convinced that a full moon has an effect on my sleep and it is due to the gravitational pull. Not only that most of my girlfriends attest the same. My boyfriend laughs at the notion. I find that I am not paying attention to the cycle of the moon and will experience sleeping issues for a few days, then I will look to see if there is a full moon and lo and behold, it is either waxing or full!

  • I thought I was allone.. The Moon gutes neues straight um anxiety. Even though it makes no sense at all i feel like the moon is getting larger (actually larger) every night. It only Looks like that because I‘m looking at it from my window, which screws the perspective. But holy crap I can barely look directly at it, it freaks me out so mich.

  • I haven’t been able to get to sleep for like the last three days. I toss and turn and wake a lot during the night, especially around the peak of the moon. Also, when you do get to sleep, does anyone have more excitable or vivid dreams around the full moon? My dreams are always of the wall around this time

  • Inspite of no scientific evidence, I also have issues for 3-4 days before the full moon which continues until the full moon has passed. Light or dark, I awaken after ~2 hours of deep sleep and am restless throughout most of the early hours and will finally sleep heavily around 5am. Clockwork. I also worked in OB/GYN and whoever had call during the full moon was prepared for busy nights of deliveries. My husband is an MD and tells me that there is no scientific truth to this, but I disagree each morning of every full moon as my response to sleep quality is “couldn’t sleep. Got up and another full moon is near”. I follow my personal scientific study! Off to bed for the last blue moon! Sleep well!🙄

  • March 30, 2018. On a trip to London England my wife and I were still awake between 1:00 and 2:00 A.M last night, I never even thought of the moon until 2;00 A.M. When I checked in the morning, I found it would be full moon tonight, the 31st.

    No, it was not jet lag. We flew from Canada on Monday and have slept like logs until last night.

    I am heading back to bed for a nap!!

    Allan & Helen.

  • Hi. Obviously its 2.30 a.m and I can’t sleep. Always 1-2 nights prior to full moon and the full moon night. I feel restless and also more irascible. Now I learned to control my moon mood but before realising it’s one of those days of the month, I was feeling a bit aggressive (verbally) and I could start a fight with my partner out of nowhere. Overall I have a good vibe about this full moon thing and we the one who are being “blessed” with this strange feeling, should learn more about and see if we can use this in a positive way.

  • Absolutely! I literally crawl out of my skin in the days prior to the full moon and the full. I can’t sleep. I can’t even just lie still. I am positive it’s full moon energy. I’m hyperactive and have been since childhood I was born with ADD, but, when the moon is full or 2 or 3 days before, I have a lot of anxiety and can’t seem to relax. Pot helps.

  • Everytime the moon full shines, I can’t really sleep, until 4 or 5AM or no sleep at all, unless when the weather is cloudy or raining. I am not sure why, every time, ever since as I observes. I guess I am not the only person experiencing it. Today the is soo bright and I can’t sleep again and here I am commenting.

  • I am reading other’s comments but not one seems to have a problem 5-7 days in advance of a full moon like I do? Full moons yes often up – but 5-7 days prior to is the same. If I find myself tossing and turning I go look at the calendar. It is a week prior to a full moon…

    • I Have that problem, starting before and even after the full moon, with interrupted sleep or no sleep…I wonder why ??? If Gravity has nothing to do with this then what does? Is the conditioning that severe, or is it that as children we are often made to fear things to do with the moon, or is it something else altogether???

    • I’m affected for about a week leading up to a full moon and during. Can’t sleep. I believe it’s to do with circadian rhythm. Perhaps instinct to hunt from past generations who had no electricity? Perhaps we need to look into that more. What other things affect our rhythms like televison or led lights. Energy fields? Wi-Fi? But for sure there is some corealation in my life. God Bless.

  • Came here to make sure it just wasn’t me. Around 11.30pm ready for dreamland but sleep was illusive until nearly dawn. Dug around and found a Sleeptime herbal essence to apply (this is usually quite effective) but still no joy. It was a cloudy night therefore wasn’t sure so checked this morning Yep the full moon strikes again…and we have two this month! A definite thing in my house. Being ‘the last man standing’ at 3 a.m. so bad but oddly the day doesn’t feel as exhausting as I would have imagined.

  • I have a 2 year old son who was sleeping very restlessly for 3 nights leading up to our latest super blue blood moon. As is the case with every full moon – he struggles to fall asleep, fusses a lot during the night and is practically wide awake from 3am.. His daytime nap is also completely out of the norm. The lunar effect is defnitely a thing in our house!

  • Hi.Its passed 3am and im sleepless.Obviously its full moon again.Im one of those people who is sleepless with a full moon in the sky.

  • My son is autistic, n every full moon, super moon, new moon, you name it, he gets into a manic state, and stays up all night, with last night’s super blood moon, eclipse being no exception, he just recently fell asleep at 11am, after talking pretty much non stop since 2am, n before that, he did something strange, out of the norm behavior, he sat quietly in front of the tv set, watching a music cd with a background, but he sat there for like 2 to 3 hours, just sitting n staring. Don’t know if I can take many more sleepless full moon nights.

  • It’s 3:37 a.m. Jan 3rd, 2008. It’s the night of the supermoon, fullmoon and some other kind of moon. I’m just now reading messages sent in Dec. 2017. I haven’t slept for 4 maybe 5 days now. I have been having severe back pain. I took 2 pain pills and it’s like I took nothing at all. Normally 1 pain pill would knock me out and/or at least relieved some or all of the back pain. I can always tell without looking at the moon whether it is full or close to full. I have a really hard time sleeping. It’s like the moon is pulling my eyelids open.

  • Started to realise the impact of super moons keeping me awake all night as generally I don’t struggle to fall asleep, now any time I check if I am staying awake all night if there was a super moon that night. Two instances in two months. It is not scientific, but I am now paying attention to the issue.

  • Full moon was Monday night, a super moon. Last night and every full moon night and about a few days after I wake at 330 and cant sleep until just about dawn.
    I had read it has to do with barometric pressure due to the gravitational pull. I’m a social worker and can tell you like clockwork when clients with bipolar or other psychotic disorders will have episodes of mania. Someone please give me grant money and I’ll prove it.

  • I am a good sleeper as a rule but have trouble sleeping during a full moon. Often dont know there is a full moon but sleeplessness gets me wandering out of bed at night and see the moon and realise that is the issue. fortunately when I go wandering I dont grow facial hair.

  • I have the lunar effect I geuss I can not sleep when theirs a full moon and today it’s not a regular full moon it’s the supermoon it is 10 pm and I have school tomorrow and I can not SLEEP at all

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