Summer Supermoons May Keep You Awake

If you find that you can’t sleep well this summer, you have something new to blame.  Scientists say they’ve proven that we don’t sleep as well on nights with a full moon, and this summer features three full moons that are larger than most.

A supermoon is a full or new moon that occurs at or near its closest approach to the Earth.  It happens four to six times per year, and when it’s a full moon supermoon, our closest celestial neighbor looks noticeably bigger.  There are three full moon supermoons during this summer, with the first one happening last weekend.  It’s those three supermoons that could end up causing some trouble with your sleep.

New research, conducted at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, looked at how well subjects slept during full moons and non-full moons.  The subjects were placed in a windowless room and their sleep was monitored.  It was determined that the subjects slept an average of 25 minutes less during a full moon than on nights with other moon phases.

The scientists who conducted the study said it shows there may be some hidden internal clock related to the phases of the moon.  They said extra light from the full moon couldn’t explain the difference in sleep, since no external light could reach the subjects.

The 25-minute difference in overall time spent asleep is almost identical to the findings made in a similar Swiss study last year. Broken down by gender, the data shows that the men in Smith’s study were most affected by the full moon, sleeping on average 51 minutes less than the women during this part of the lunar cycle.

Brain scans of both the male and the female participants revealed an increased susceptibility to external disturbances when the moon was full, leading the researchers to attribute the changes in sleep pattern to this enhanced responsiveness.

The next two supermoons will be on August 10 and September 9.  We already had one this month, on the 12th. The one occurring in August will be the closest of the three.

Sources: The Independent and EarthSky