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Phases of Moon May Influence Duration of Sleep, Menstrual Cycles, Scientists Say in New Study

A new study suggests that the myth about the Moon influencing menstrual cycles and sleeping patterns may be true after all. According to a study conducted by scientists from the University of Washington, National University of Quilmes, and Yale University, it has been found that moon phases affect our duration of sleep and menstruation patterns in the female reproductive system.

The paper, published in Science Advances on January 27 suggests that sleep cycles in people fluctuates during the 29.5-day lunar cycle. In the days leading up to a full moon, people go to sleep later in the evening and sleep for shorter periods of time, says the study. The research team consisted of seven scientists: Horacio O. de la Iglesia, Leandro Casiraghi, Ignacio Spiousas, Gideon P. Dunster, Kaitlyn McGlothlen, Eduardo Fernández-Duque, and Claudia Valeggia. To draw their results, the research team observed two sets of populations: Toba-Qom Indigenous communities in the northern Argentina region of Formosa, and college students in Seattle, a city in the US of more than 750,000.

One rural community from Argentina had no access to electricity, a second rural community had only limited access to electricity, and a third community was in an urban setting and had full access to electricity. The researchers collected sleep data for one to two whole lunar cycles for nearly three-quarters of the Toba-Qom participants.

Lead author of the study and UW professor of biology Horacio de la Iglesia said in a statement that the team observed a clear lunar modulation of sleep, with sleep decreasing and later onset of sleep in the days preceding a full moon. He said that although the effect is more visible in communities without access to electricity, it is also observed in communities with electricity, including undergraduates at the University of Washington.

The total amount of sleep varied across the lunar cycle by an average of 46 to 58 minutes, found the study and bedtimes oscillated by around 30 minutes. For all three communities, the research found that on average, people had the latest bedtimes and the shortest amount of sleep in three to five nights leading up to a full moon.

The team of researchers also mentioned that the moon in Argentina’s Toba culture is represented as a man who has carnal relations with women and it also symbolises the first menstruation and regulates the timing of the following menstruations. The folk tales told by the elder Toba/Qom community shows moonlit nights as nights of higher sexual activity. These beliefs held by the indigenous community of Argentina also suggested the possibility that ancestrally moonlight encounters could have synchronized reproductive activity of women’s fertility.

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Watch here how the moon affects your sleep.

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