The Supermoon May Keep You Awake

Full moons are blamed for a variety of problems, from outbreaks of crime to people turning into wolves.  But, the supermoon this week may actually keep you from sleeping well.

A supermoon is when a full moon is at its perigee — the closest point to Earth along its orbit.  This week’s supermoon occurs at the moon’s closest point to the Earth since 1948, and will look 17% larger than your average everyday full moon.  The actual closest point was this morning, but the show tonight should be spectacular in areas without cloud cover.

This is all interesting science, but what does it have to do with sleep?

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.

So, is sleep worse during a supermoon than a regular full moon?  There’s no research on that, but maybe … just maybe it does.  Either way, be sure you enjoy it because another supermoon this close won’t come for another 18 years.