Changing the way you sleep might be one of the simplest changes you can make, affecting everything from your mental health to your physical health. When you have impaired or lack of sleep, it may impact your immune system, increase your risk of heart disease, raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Serious or chronic underlying health conditions may also be affected by poor quality sleep. The National Sleep Foundation’s annual survey revealed that both children and parents experience interrupted or poor quality sleep related to a variety of factors from room temperature, noise, light, and pets to evening activities. It is also revealed by sleep studies that your body reacts differently on nights of a full moon.
The lunar effect, or effect of the moon on your body, has for a long time intrigued the scientists. The journal Current Biology suggests that the moon may have a detrimental effect on your quality and patterns of sleep. There were 33 participants that were included in a sleep study lab, where several changes in sleep patterns were demonstrated. The participants all slept in a completely dark room that had no windows. This way the effect of extra light from a full moon would not be a factor. They used monitors on the patients who slept the night at the lab and the researchers were allowed to record how quickly they fell asleep, how long they slept and their brain wave patterns during sleep.
They spent 3 ½ days at the lab and neither the patients nor the researchers were told a factor in this study was the phase of the moon. Originally the study did not even include the effect of the phase of the moon on sleep. This study was completed in 2000 and evaluated melatonin levels, time to fall asleep, time asleep and subjective reports on how well rested the participants felt. A decade later the researchers realized their data could be used for evaluating the effect of the phase of the moon on sleep. During a full moon the participants got 20 minutes less sleep and took 5 minutes more to fall asleep. About 30 percent less deep sleep was experienced, than they did on the nights when there was no full moon.
Studies have been done evaluating the effect of the moon on epilepsy, psychiatric visits, emergency room visits, surgery outcomes and sleep deprivation. The intriguing fact is that studies have not supported this, but healthcare workers in emergency rooms and psychiatric hospitals equate a full moon with greater activity.
There are other lunar influences on the body. The production of melatonin affects more than your sleep. This hormone is related to the female reproductive system, controlling the timing and release of female reproductive hormones. The research indicates a link between abnormal levels of melatonin during pregnancy and the onset of preeclampsia. It also helps to protect against cancers of the reproductive tract. Your body when exposed to light and dark, regulates melatonin production naturally. Things to increase this melatonin production are: sunshine during the morning, sleeping in the dark, turning off your computer, reducing your caffeine, lowering your stress level and increasing foods high in magnesium.
Ways to improve your sleep quality are turning your bedroom into an oasis for sleep, establishing a soothing pre-bedtime routine, keeping a consistent schedule, napping early or not at all, drinking earlier rather than later, checking your bedroom for electromagnetic fields, exercising daily, keeping your room cool, evaluating your mattress and pillow and downshifting your mental gymnastics before bed. Get that necessary sleep at night to improve your mental and physical health.
Mahatma Gandi once said, “ When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.”
-Dr Fredda Branyon