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 Further identification of mostly unpublished null findings suggests that the conflicting results of previous studies might be due to a publication bias.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 Further, his team identified several unpublished null findings including cumulative analyses of more than 20,000 sleep nights, which suggest that the conflicting results might be an example of a publication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 | Max-Planck-Institute
R&D - Fit for future
28.04.2015 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO
Emotion recognition ability pays off
27.04.2015 | WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management
KAIST researchers published an article on the development of a novel technique to precisely track the 3-D positions of optically-trapped particles having complicated geometry in high speed in the April 2015 issue of Optica.
Daejeon, Republic of Korea, April 23, 2015--Optical tweezers have been used as an invaluable tool for exerting micro-scale force on microscopic particles and...
A very small and rare species of shark is swimming its way through scientific literature. But don't worry, the chances of this inches-long vertebrate biting...
Ever since computers have been small enough to be fixtures on desks and laps, their central processing has functioned something like an atomic Etch A Sketch, with electromagnetic fields pushing data bits into place to encode data.
Unfortunately, the same drawbacks and perils of the mechanical sketch board have been just as pervasive in computing: making a change often requires starting...
How is lightning initiated in thunderclouds? This is difficult to answer - how do you measure electric fields inside large, dangerously charged clouds? It was discovered, more or less by coincidence, that cosmic rays provide suitable probes to measure electric fields within thunderclouds. This surprising finding is published in Physical Review Letters on April 24th. The measurements were performed with the LOFAR radio telescope located in the Netherlands.
How is lightning initiated in thunderclouds? This is difficult to answer - how do you measure electric fields inside large, dangerously charged clouds? It was...
Max Planck researcher Buhalqem Mamtimin determines how much nitrogen oxide is released into the atmosphere from agriculturally used oases.
In order to make statements about current and future air pollution, scientists use models which simulate the Earth’s atmosphere. A lot of information such as...
23.04.2015 | Event News
23.04.2015 | Event News
13.04.2015 | Event News
28.04.2015 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2015 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
28.04.2015 | Earth Sciences