Full Moon Linked To Sleep Pattern Disturbance

Full Moon Linked To Sleep Pattern DisturbanceA full Moon can disturb a good night’s sleep, scientists believe. Researchers found evidence of a “lunar influence” in a study of 33 volunteers sleeping in tightly controlled laboratory conditions.

‘Poorer quality sleep’

When the Moon was round, the volunteers took longer to nod off and had poorer quality sleep, despite being shut in a darkened room, Current Biology reports. They also had a dip in levels of a hormone called melatonin that is linked to natural-body clock cycles.

When it is dark, the body makes more melatonin. And it produces less when it is light. Being exposed to bright lights in the evening or too little light during the day can disrupt the body’s normal melatonin cycles. But the work in Current Biology, by Prof Christian Cajochen and colleagues from Basel University in Switzerland, suggests the Moon’s effects may be unrelated to its brightness.

‘Lunar effect’

The volunteers were unaware of the purpose of the study and could not see the Moon from their beds in the researchers’ sleep lab. They each spent two separate nights at the lab under close observation. Findings revealed that around the full Moon, brain activity related to deep sleep dropped by nearly a third. Melatonin levels also dipped. The volunteers also took five minutes longer to fall asleep and slept for 20 minutes less when there was a full Moon.

Some people may be exquisitely sensitive to the Moon, say the researchers. Their study did not originally set out to investigate a lunar effect.

Do you experience disturbance in your sleep pattern during Full Moon? What do you think is the reason behind this?

Source: Michelle Roberts | BBC News

Image: An Inspired Life

Elephant Mimics Korean Words

Elephant Mimics Korean WordsAn Asian elephant called Koshik has astounded scientists with his Korean language skills. The study is published in the journal Current Biology.

‘Five Korean words’

The study’s lead author Dr Angela Stoeger, from the University of Vienna in Austria, said she first came across Koshik after videos of the elephant, who belongs to Everland Zoo in South Korea, were posted on YouTube. After making contact with the zoo, she went to South Korea to record the animal so she could study its unusual vocal talent. Dr Stoeger and her colleagues found that Koshik’s calls correlated to five Korean words: “annyeong” (hello); “anja” (sit down); “aniya” (no); “nuwo” (lie down) and “choah” (good).

Usually, elephants produce much deeper sounds, sometimes of such a low frequency that they are outside the range of human hearing, and these calls can boom many miles away. While Koshik was capable of producing these more typical elephant noises, he needed the help of his trunk to morph these into something far more human. The researchers said this was behaviour they had not seen before.

‘Anatomic difference’

“He always puts his trunk tip into his mouth and then modulates the oral chamber,” explained Dr Stoeger. “We don’t have X-rays, so we don’t really know what is going on inside his mouth, but he’s invented a new way way of sound production to match his vocalisations with his human companions.”

She added: “If you consider the huge size of the elephant and the long vocal tract and other anatomic difference – for example he has a trunk instead of lips… and a huge larynx – and he is really matching the voice pitch of his trainers, this is really remarkable.”

But while Koshik sounds convincing, the researchers do not believe that he has any comprehension of the words that he is saying. Instead, they think that the elephant took up talking as a way to bond with his human companions.

Do you think we can train animals to talk like humans in the future? Share your thoughts with us!

Source: BBC News

Image: Daily Mail