How The Moon Affects Your Sleep
If you often struggle to sleep during a full moon, you’re not alone. Human beings throughout the ages have suspected that the moon may be keeping them awake at night, so people have long considered the existence of a phenomenon known as lunar insomnia.
While it may seem strange that something as far away as the moon can affect our nightly rest, it's important to remember that it affects all sorts of things, from the tides to animal behaviour. The moon is a clock, compass, and a source of light to life on earth, and there are even species of animal that only breed during certain moon phases.
So, it makes sense that the moon and its different phases may also affect humans — including our ability to fall asleep. Want to know more? The sleep experts at Dormeo have put together this guide to lunar insomnia, including some tips for how to combat it.
How does the moon affect your sleep?
A 2018 study found actual scientific evidence to support lunar insomnia. Its participants found it harder to fall asleep, had inferior quality sleep, and even slept for a shorter amount of time during a full moon despite sleeping in a controlled environment at the time.
More recently, research in 2021 found that lunar activity caused nocturnal behaviour in humans, with participants from indigenous and rural communities going to sleep later and having a shorter amount of rest on the nights leading up to the full moon.
The cause of your sleep disruption could be as simple as the extra moonlight
According to Sleep Foundation, light during sleeping hours disrupts our circadian rhythm, which is what our bodies use to work out when we need to be alert and when to go to sleep. When the moon is full, it's much brighter and that could be what's keeping you awake.
How to get enough sleep during a full moon
If you're looking for ways to get a good night sleep during full moons or other celestial events, Dormeo have put together some advice.
Eat the right food
You probably already avoid consuming caffeine or sugar too close bedtime, as these stimulants are well known for keeping us awake. But even fatty or greasy foods can impact your sleep as your body works harder to digest them. Some fats, however, may have soporific effects. Many people hail milk and cheese as fail-safe sleep inducers because they contain tryptophan, a natural acid that promotes drowsiness. So, if you like a snack before bed, it may help to stick to dairy and proteins such as turkey, which also contain high amounts of tryptophan.
Whatever you like to eat before bed, make sure you do it in moderation so that you're not kept awake digesting your supper. Try to avoid alcohol in the evening too — it may feel relaxing, but the quality of sleep it causes means you'll wake up feeling even groggier the next day, and it can make your insomnia worse.
Do some gentle exercise
Exercise is a great way to wake up and get your blood pumping, but did you know that being active during the day can make it easier to sleep at night? This is because daytime activity sets your circadian rhythm and helps your body to work out when it's time to go to bed. What's more, light exercise in the evening may even help you fall asleep quicker too. Yoga in particular is a great way to stretch your body, improve your blood flow, and focus on your breathing, all of which will put you in the right state of mind for switching off when you climb into bed. So, in the run up to a full moon, remember to do some stretching before bedtime.
Create a positive sleep environment
Other methods of getting ready for bed are all moot if you aren't sleeping in the right environment. Your bedroom or sleep area should be encouraging a good night's rest, with a comfortable bed and a mattress that supports you properly. If you often wake up feeling stiff or if aches and pains keep you up at night, you might need a different kind of mattress like a memory foam model or, if you sleep on your back, a firmer mattress.
As well as a cosy bed, your bedroom needs to be dark, on the cool side, and free of clutter to keep your mind at ease. Fresh, clean-scented bedding always helps you to relax, and aromatherapy can also do the trick if you're struggling to sleep. So, next time there's a full moon, you could try a new pillow spray or soothing scent in your diffuser and see if that works for you.
"There's no denying that sleep is a strange thing, and for some people, it's much more difficult to fall asleep during a full moon and times of significant lunar activity. Fortunately, like most things in life, this can be easily addressed in many cases by improving your diet, exercise habits, and sleep environment.
"Having a bedroom that facilitates a good night's sleep is crucial at any time, but during a full moon it can have extra benefits. For example, ensuring total darkness by fitting blackout blinds or heavier curtains can keep out moonbeams that may 'trick' your brain into thinking it's time to be awake. Alternatively, you could try wearing a comfy sleep mask to bed.
Having a comfortable bed and mattress is sure to help you drift off easier if you're struggling to sleep. What's more, if you're tossing and turning at night, the right mattress can make sure you're supported and decrease your likelihood of feeling stiff and aching in the morning, even if you can't drop off. So, there are even more reasons to focus on improving your environment if you're affected by the moon."
- Phil Lawlor, Sleep Expert at Dormeo
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