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Leandro Casiraghi quoted in Miami Herald article on moon's role in human sleep

Friday, October 8, 2021 - 07:30

Leandro Casiraghi, a UW Biology postdoctoral researcher in the de la Iglesia lab, was quoted in an article in the Miami Herald on the moon's effects on human sleep.

Aside from ocean tides, the moon is known to influence other earthly objects and beings, including trees’ size, crabs’ reproductive activity and corals’ spawning events. The effect lunar cycles have on people directly is less clear, but new evidence suggests the moon may play a role in how well we sleep, particularly for men. 

At-home sleep recordings from more than 850 people in Sweden found that men experienced lower sleep efficiency and spent more time awake after initially falling asleep during the moon’s waxing phase — when the celestial body is on its way to becoming full, appearing bigger in the sky — compared to its waning phase, when the moon appears to shrink as it approaches the new moon cycle. Women, on the other hand, did not experience changes in sleep quality associated with lunar phases.

The lead author of a January study that found people go to sleep later and sleep for shorter periods of time in the days leading up to a full moon thinks there may be an evolutionary explanation.
“We hypothesize that the patterns we observed are an innate adaptation that allowed our ancestors to take advantage of this natural source of evening light that occurred at a specific time during the lunar cycle,” Leandro Casiraghi, a University of Washington postdoctoral researcher, said in a statement.


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