Friday, July 26, 2013

Sleep research: All mondfühlig or what? - Times Online

full moon clouds to sleep, many people believe. All rubbish, it was previously. Now, researchers report the first evidence of lunar disturbance.

framed by the earthly lights, the moon orbits in space. The photo took pictures of astronauts on the International Space Station.

framed by the earthly lights, circling the Moon in space. The photo took pictures of astronauts on the International Space Station.

Aaaaahhhoouuu! We already know, the wolf howling at the full moon to the sky. But is clearly a myth. Canis lupus starts at the Earth’s satellite as often as he wants, because the moon phase plays no role. There are many animals in which actually a cyclical lunar clock is ticking. Most are the marine species or even Galapagos iguanas. Their biological rhythm has adapted to the ocean tides, which are known to significantly affect the moon. This brings them as more food because they know when the water soaked and returns.

the animals with such a rhythm man has not one himself. Although many specimens of this species are stubbornly convinced of it. “About 40 percent complain that they sleep worse during certain phases of the moon,” says the Christian Chronobiologist Cajochen, a researcher at the Psychiatric University Hospital in Basel.


brought him a colleague and a full moon night near the banks of the Rhine Basel in a bar with alcoholic beverages on an idea. Together with students evaluated Cajochen a ten-years previous sleep laboratory study new. The 33 subjects had at that time issued an average of 3.5 days in the hands of science. Was explored at the time of the daily sleep-wake rhythm, over which man has no doubt. The old data Cajochen now compared with the dominant phases of the moon, to which the “very healthy”, not smoking and no drugs accepting participants had once gathered for controlled night’s rest in the hospital.

“No one has then asked if they were moonstruck” says Cajochen. Good prerequisites to track down lunar influences. “We did not expect to find anything.”

thought wrong. The data showed the lunar comparison: During full moon phases, the electrodes recorded brain activity of the participants fell into a deep sleep periods by 30 percent. In addition, the observed sleeper took five minutes longer to nod off. The total length of their sleep also decreased at full moon by 20 minutes. The magazine Current Biology published the results now.

study without practical relevance

Does Luna

So actually even away from the superstition our sleep? The sleep researcher Jürgen Zulley is skeptical. Previous studies had found no influence of the moon on our sleep cycles. In the current evaluation, it’m also rather long-term monthly rhythms and not to the question: If we sleep poorly at full moon? Except there is nothing esoteric clues there. Those who believe in it, he may sleep poorly, experience and self-fulfilling prophecies.

Sven Stockrahm

Sven Stockrahm


Sven Stockrahm editor is in the department of knowledge in ZEIT ONLINE. His profile page click here.

“I can only assume that most subjects were rather less esoteric,” says study leader Cajochen. Among the 17 young people who participated in the study a decade ago were mainly students. “Their main motive is usually the money.” An obvious speculation, because a few nights in the laboratory are properly compensated. On average, the participants reported already to have mostly slept well. With good will you can assume that most observed sleepers were not particularly religious moon.

Ultimately, the evaluation of their sleep quality was nevertheless “not impressive”, says sleep researcher Zulley. “Whether you need extra five minutes to fall asleep, you do not notice.” Even 20 minutes less sleep lie within the normal range, which can not be separated from the accident. The study was well conducted, observing statistically significant. “The practical relevance but you can totally forget.”

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