Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Does the moon affect our sleep?


Max Planck scientists find no correlation between moon phases and human sleep

Popular beliefs about the influence of the moon on humans widely exist. Many people report sleeplessness around the time of full moon. In contrast to earlier studies, scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich did not observe any correlation between human sleep and the lunar phases.

Many people report sleeplessness around the time of full moon. The question whether or not there is a scientific measurable lunar influence still remains elusive.

© Thomas Thiele

The researchers analyzed preexisting data of a large cohort of volunteers and their sleep nights. Further identification of mostly unpublished null findings suggests that the conflicting results of previous studies might be due to a publication bias.

For centuries, people have believed that the moon cycle influences human health, behavior and physiology. Folklore mainly links the full moon with sleeplessness. But what about the scientific background?

Several studies searched in re-analyses of pre-existing datasets on human sleep for a lunar effect, although the results were quite varying and the effects on sleep have rarely been assessed with objective measures, such as a sleep EEG. In some studies women appeared more affected by the moon phase, in others men.

Two analyses of datasets from 2013 and 2014, each including between 30 and 50 volunteers, agreed on shorter total sleep duration in the nights around full moon. However, both studies came to conflicting results in other variables. For example, in one analysis the beginning of the REM-sleep phase in which we mainly dream was delayed around new moon, whereas the other study observed the longest delay around full moon.

To overcome the problem of possible chance findings in small study samples, scientists now analyzed the sleep data of overall 1,265 volunteers during 2,097 nights. “Investigating this large cohort of test persons and sleep nights, we were unable to replicate previous findings,” states Martin Dresler, neuroscientist at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany, and the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour in Nijmegen, Netherlands.

“We could not observe a statistical relevant correlation between human sleep and the lunar phases.” Further, his team identified several unpublished null findings including cumulative analyses of more than 20,000 sleep nights, which suggest that the conflicting results might be an example of a publication bias (i.e. the file drawer problem).

The file drawer problem describes the phenomenon, that many studies may be conducted but never reported – they remain in the file drawer. One much-discussed publication bias in science, medicine and pharmacy is the tendency to report experimental results that are positive or show a significant finding and to omit results that are negative or inconclusive.

Up to now, the influence of the lunar cycle on human sleep was investigated in re-analyses of earlier studies which originally followed different purposes. “To overcome the obvious limitations of retrospective data analysis, carefully controlled studies specifically designed for the test of lunar cycle effects on sleep in large samples are required for a definite answer,” comments Dresler.


Anna Niedl

Press and Public Relations

Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, München

Phone: +49 89 30622-263
Fax: +49 89 30622-370


Original publication 

Cordi M, Ackermann S, Bes FW, Hartmann F, Konrad BN, Genzel L, Pawlowski M, Steiger A, Schulz H, Rasch B, Dresler M.
Lunar cycle effects on sleep and the file drawer problem.
Current Biology. Vol 24, Nr. 12 (doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.05.017)

Further information 

Dissemination and publication of reSong F, Parekh S, Hooper L, Loke YK, Ryder J, Sutton AJ, Hing C, Kwok CS, Pang C, Harvey I.
Dissemination and publication of research findings: an updated review of related biases.
Health Technol Assess. 2010 Feb;14(8):iii, ix-xi, 1-193 (doi: 10.3310/hta14080)

Anna Niedl | Max-Planck-Institute

Further reports about: analyses behavior cohort lunar publication sleep sleeplessness

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>