Will ripple the moon in 2019

Troubled sleep during a full moon

"Super moon?"

First of all: The expression "super moon" is an invention of journalists.

And when it comes to insomnia during the full moon, there is no clear opinion in science either. For some this is all nonsense, for others it seems clear that the full moon - which has been shown to have an impact on the ebb and flow of the tide - can also have an impact on our sleep.

And still others point to more recent studies, according to which supposed insomnia is often only a dream.

Does the full moon cause insomnia?

Originally, the Basel chronobiologist Prof. Christian Cajochen wanted to demystify the myth of the full moon. But in his moon study in 2013, he and his team of 14 from the University Psychiatric Clinic Basel were surprised to find that the melatonin level in the saliva of his test subjects had changed during the full moon phases. At the same time, the subjects slept around 20 minutes less on average.

Unfortunately, Cajochen was only able to access measurements from 33 test subjects in the sleep laboratory. Not enough to set the thesis in stone, said critics. A year later, a new study by the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry with 319 test subjects refuted Cajochen's thesis.

In the meantime there is a more recent study that seems to confirm the lunar theory again. Here, in the sleep laboratory of the Berlin Charité, the test subjects did not know, just like in the Swiss sleep laboratory, whether it was light or dark outside, whether it was a full moon or not. However, the findings are not clear. Especially not whether the full moon effect - if it exists in the general population at all - can only be traced back to the brighter nights or whether something else plays a role.

It is also conceivable that the mere expectation of sleeping poorly on a full moon night can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sleep researchers generally advise sensitive sleepers to also darken their bedrooms at home, maintaining an average temperature of around 18 degrees.

Sleep research out of date

As far as research into the full moon theory is concerned, there is currently not only a lack of money, but also of precise measuring instruments. Sleep researcher Prof. Ingo Fietze from the Berlin Charité looks at the full moon debate rather soberly. Because in the laboratory, sleep is still measured exactly as it was 60 or 70 years ago. With small electrodes on the head, which, however, can only measure very little brain activity on the surface and cannot cover the entire brain.

Stress as the main trigger for sleep disorders

Around a third of all people in Germany now suffer from chronic sleep disorders. The numbers continue to grow and also affect more and more young people. Those who do not get enough rest are less productive during the day and get sick more often. But what are the reasons for this?

The main trigger is stress: the 24-hour society, shift work, as well as family and social problems can cause sleep problems. Then there are drugs and alcohol. It can also be triggered by anesthesia, which later causes sleep problems. Insomnia is no longer a question of age. The insomniacs are getting younger and younger.

Sleep on the keyboard

Chronic fatigue is also a problem in the workplace. The head of the Charité's Sleep Medicine Center pleads for the midday rest, because if we sleep less and less at night, then we have to be able to catch up on sleep during the day. That doesn't mean drinking your tenth coffee or smoking your twentieth cigarette, but rather lying down for five to thirty minutes and falling asleep every now and then. This can be referred to as naps or power naps.

Quite common in Japan, this proposal is less popular in Germany. Here you don't dare to put your head on the keyboard for a moment and sleep for ten minutes, because then the colleague looks funny, or the boss comes over and reprimands or resigns.

The decision-makers, i.e. those responsible for companies, department heads or directors, would have to propagate and allow this differently. It should be part of the culture of the world of work that you would rather lie down for 10 minutes than drink too much coffee, according to the head of the Charité.

In view of the numerous causes of the widespread disease of sleep deprivation, these are only individual pieces of the puzzle. However, sleep specialists remain confident that we will be more aware of the issue of sleep in the future.