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.

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

  1. As always, for so many years, I have insomnia tonight during the full moon. Riddled with increased anxiety, restless leg syndrome, depression, increased physical pain and feeling weighted; symptoms I do not have normally. I tried Advil PM however it is ineffective in solving the problem. Due to repeated experience, I strongly believe the moon cycle effects humans bodies and behavior.

  2. I have been awake all night and at the moment I am not feeling tired? Which I was last night. Their is a full moon tonight and when thinking about it I realized the last few times there has been a full moon icant sleep

  3. This is soooo starting to annoy me … every month without fail I CANT SLEEP leading up to the full moon!!!!! I don’t take note of it but then when I lay awake all night, tossing and turning I realise it . I take sleeping pills and physically try and wear myself out during the day just to find myself super tired the next day!!!! Is there any solution ? And it has gotten worse over the years!!! Can’t take it anymore!!!

  4. I have been awake ALL NIGHT. Full moon in a couple of days. This is normal for me but more annoying than usual as I’m on a lovely three day break in Venice. Today is going to be very tiring

  5. I’m getting very tired of not being able to sleep on the nights leading up and the night of the full moon. It’s happening every single time. I seem to wee more too… up 14 times last night. I mentioned this to my doctor and he just shrugged his shoulders at me! I’ve tried every method under the sun to try to sleep on full moon night but nothing works.. I dread it coming around. I’m relieved to hear I’m not alone… But I long for an answer or help just at this time each month :(

  6. Yep for years now, and it’s has increased in potency over the years, full moon phases affect my sleep, during that week or so every month I wake up uncontrollably. I used to attempt to fight it, thinking it was the light, but found out on stormy weeks that wasn’t the case, I also have forgotten when a phase is about to start and heavy cloud cover hid it.. still I awaken. So now I don’t fight it, I get up, and don’t worry over knowing I’ll be tired on them evenings, at the height of a full moon, 2:30am or so is the worst it is for me, it builds up and then dies down, so for a little over a week each month I have sleep problems. Sadly nothing cures it, a blind, shades, drinking, drugs, nothing, so worry not, you’re not alone

  7. I do not keep track of full moons, but my body does. I had no idea we had a full moon last night, but woke up after only 2 hours of sleep in pain, achy and could not get back to sleep. To kill time I got on the computer and told a friend that I bet we have a full moon because I am having one of those miserable nights again Looked it up and sure enough it is a full moon. My mom and I use to talk on the phone and she would say, “I couldn’t sleep at all last night” and I would say me neither. Then I would look on the internet and sure enough it would say there was a full moon. So scientific or not, there is something to it.

  8. Cannot sleep…I didn’t know this is the time but I looked out of the window and see the moon. Im so restles… my partner sound asleep next to me. I wish I could do that!

  9. My teenage son and I both have awful sleepless nights every full moon (while my husband and daughter sleep peacefully even on full moons). Years of this behavior is proof enough for me that some people are affected by the lunar cycles even unknowingly so bc this occurs routinely and we dont track lunar cycles. Even prescription sleeping pills, otc sleeping remedies and natural sleep aid supplements dont help us on full moons.

  10. this is all starting to make sense… there I was blaming my awful mood and insomnia on my acupuncturist’s summer vacation (I’m seeing him once a fortnight for pre-menopausal symptoms). I just spoke to a colleague who remarked on my fatigued air and she told me that she couldnt sleep either, nor could her friends .. because of the full moon!
    drinking herbal tea and water today! +++
    ps Im a scientist have total respect for Carole’s comments last month!

  11. Very restless sleep tonight and last night, more sensitive to it as I’ve given up alcohol for two weeks, my rising sign is the moon too

  12. Unable to sleep. Took extra melantonin and 1/2 x25mg phenergan to help with no effect. Decided to check and found it was 26/08/18 full moon night. Obviously effect of moon on psychic, as noted previously (which is why I checked to see when full moon was due) weird effect

  13. Me and just about everyone I know sleep poorly on a full moon, as you said emergency rooms are fuller and more hectic on full moons, and crime rates go up. So I think that due to the insufficient sample taken in 2013, there needs to be another sample taken, and this time from a very large span of people stretching among communities.

  14. Goodness, I tossed and turned all night and just could not fall asleep but the funny thing is I could sit through work all day and function like any normal day when I have full 7 hours of sleep. It’s really strange and it usually happened when it’s full moon.

  15. I’m in Texas, the full moon is out and I’m as awake as if it was mid-day. This happens with every full moon. I believe there must be a correlation. It can’t be just happenstance.

  16. Hi,
    I had regular episodes of feeling emotional and anxious with no reason to explain as was not associated/linked to my periods all the time. I also had heightened PMT on some months and not others (as irregular). My cousin, who I hadnt seen for years was talking to me in one of these said episodes, whereby I felt so much emotional pain and was so angry it scared me. She asked me to look up into the sky. Sure enough there was a big full moon. I realised too, that I had nights of very little sleep and seemed ‘wired’ at these times. As a Christian, I knew everyone would think I had lost the plot, as these associative rumours fuelled by testimonies about the moon’s influence were just ‘new agey’ myths.
    Again, as a Christian, I am used to Scientific evidence being one of the ‘God’s of our times’ and have learnt that a lack of evidence means nothing in relation to things we are limited to test or measure. Lots of people know they are ill, yet highly scientific based forms of testing would suggest there is no evidence for this and it is a figment of the imagination. Even today, with all the technology we have, there is so much we don’t understand about quantum physics, the mind body link; the power of our words and thoughts impacting and mapping out situations and our individual experience, whereby we have often believed ourselves to be the victims of fate.
    Over 35 years I have studied theology, psychotherapy/psychology, anatomy and physiology. I control my medical diagnoses of ME (fibromyalgia and Chronic fatigue) with diet, prayer, meditation, exercise and challenging my thinking as and when necessary..but one thing I have yet to harness, so that it’s negative impact doesn’t rob me of a few days each month as it waxes and wanes is the Full moon and this is not a powerful associative placebo linked to myths and werewolves. This phenomenon is real, just like many other important and even essential truths that are bypassed or neglected or simply just beyond our powers to really know. After all, despite popular belief, we are not God and the resulting manifestations of our ‘progressive, science based’ modern world without acknowledgement of a creator is surely evidence of this..just look at the state of our society.

    1. You sound like an amazing person, and your faith and wisdom is encouraging. Thank you for sharing, you beautiful soul.

  17. I didn’t know people had sleep problems during full moons, I was just curious if I was the only person that couldn’t sleep during full moons, turns out I’m not alone. I couldn’t sleep today it was horrible

  18. Last 2 days I haven’t been sleeping at night. There is no change or stress that would keep me up. Usually I sleep like a baby. I strongly believe it’s the moon energy that’s keeping me awake and giving me headaches. I don’t have any other medical issue that can cause this.

  19. 7.20am in Sydney. Ended up reading this as I have been up all night. My Brain was so active all night. Went to the loo around 4am and realised how bright it was outside so googled can a full moon affect sleep.

  20. 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. ✋

    1. Yes build up to full moon is tiring even with blackout curtains. Even when I don’t realize until it’s past. Plus my body is very broken, have to stay fit to keep going but definitely know when it’s going to rain or snow oh hell yes. Ps studies are mostly inconclusive good luck

  21. 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

  22. 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.

  23. 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

  24. 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!

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. Sheree Lee Chin

    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.

  28. 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?

  29. Sheree Lee Chin

    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.

  30. 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 ?

  31. 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! ?

  32. dominique gallotta

    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.

  33. Lucas Meadowcroft

    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.

  34. 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

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

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