Does a full moon affect sleep? We investigate

Anecdotally, plenty of people experience disrupted sleep on nights around a full moon. But why might this be, and is there any science to back it up? October’s full moon falls on the night of Sunday 9 October, and is known as the Hunter’s Moon. If widespread theories are to be trusted, that means your sleep has probably already started to deteriorate. 

Below, we’ll dig into exactly how and why a full moon might affect sleep, and offer some advice on how to avoid a sleepless night on Sunday (or any full moon). For more tips, head to our guide to how to sleep better at night naturally, or check out our best mattress guide if it’s time to upgrade your sleep setup.

Does a full moon affect sleep?

Many people believe that a full moon affects their physical and mental wellbeing, including having a negative impact on their sleep. Claims that the full moon might affect mental health (the word ‘lunatic’ stems from the belief that the lunar cycles caused changes in mental state) or make you physically ill don’t have much by way of scientific backing, but there are multiple studies that suggest they can indeed distrust sleep. 

A large-scale study from 2021 (opens in new tab) focused on the sleep patterns in three indigenous Argentinian communities and 464 American college students in a big city. It found that all groups of participants fell asleep later and slept for less time overall in the week running up to a full moon. 

Person asleep in bed with the light falling across their face

(Image credit: Getty)

This 2013 study (opens in new tab) found that around the full moon, the time it took for participants’ to fall asleep increased by five minutes, and sleep duration decreased by 20 minutes. There was a 30% drop in deep sleep, and participants reported worse sleep quality, too. This research from 2021 (opens in new tab) had similar findings, with participants tending to fall asleep later and sleep for a shorter period overall on the nights leading up to a full moon. 

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