Full Moon Causes Bad Night’s Sleep, Study Says

September 25, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. peculiarity [pi-kyoo-lee-AR-i-tee, -kyool-YAR-] (n.) – a trait, habit, or occurrence that is odd or unusual
Example: Lisa’s sickness was a peculiarity that even the doctors could not explain.

2. cognitive [KOG-ni-tiv] (adj.) – relating to mental activities (such as learning, remembering, thinking, etc.)
Example: Old age may affect cognitive functions and make one forgetful.

3. pinpoint [PIN-point] (v.) – to find or locate precisely or exactly
ExampleAfter careful observation, the researchers were able to pinpoint the problem in their experiment.

4. abound [uh-BOUND] (v.) – to occur in large numbers or in great quantities
ExampleDisturbances abound whenever Margaret tries to get a good night’s sleep.

5. in tandem [in TAN-duh m] (adv.) – together; alongside each other
Example The two pharmaceutical companies worked in tandem to create a new kind of sleeping pill.


Read the text below.
In a study published in the journal Current Biology, scientists discovered that people sleep less during nights with full moon.

The study, which was conducted by researchers from the University of Basel in Switzerland, analyzed the sleep data and brain activity of 33 participants. Using the results, the researchers found that the subjects had 30% less deep sleep during a full moon. The subjects also slept 20 minutes shorter and fell asleep five minutes later than usual.

According to Christian Cajochen, the lead researcher of the study, this peculiarity could be caused by a "circalunar clock" within the human body. This circalunar clock influences human reproduction, moods, and cognitive performance according to the phases of the moon.

Little is known about the circalunar clock compared with the circadian clock, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle and eating patterns in human beings and animals. The circadian clock is influenced by hormones and periods of light and dark. Scientists have also been able to pinpoint the exact location of the circadian clock in the brain.

On the other hand, Cajochen says questions abound on the mysterious circalunar clock in humans. Researchers have so far been unable to prove its existence. Cajochen adds that if the clock really does exist, scientists have yet to find its exact location in the brain.

In other species, however, evidence suggests that the circadian and circalunar clocks work in tandem with each other.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you believe that a circalunar clock really exists in the human body? Why or why not?
·         In what way can this study be beneficial to people? Why do you say so?

Discussion B

·         What factors do you think contribute to a good night’s sleep? Please explain each factor briefly.
·         Why is sleep important? Please explain your answer.


September 25, 2013