Professor Christian Cajochen of the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel in Switzerland analyzed the sleep of more than 30 volunteers in two age groups in the laboratory.
As the study participants slept, the scientists monitored their brain patterns and eye movements, and measured their hormone secretions.
The findings, published in the journal Current Biology, suggested even today, despite the comforts of modern life, humans still respond to the geophysical rhythms of the moon.
The data showed both the subjective and the objective perception of the quality of sleep changed with the lunar cycles.
Around full moon, brain activity in the areas related to deep sleep dropped by 30 percent and people took 5 minutes longer to fall asleep. Overall, people slept 20 minutes less.
The volunteers said they felt as though their sleep had been poorer during full moon and they showed lower levels of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and wake cycles.
"This is the first reliable evidence that lunar rhythm can modulate sleep structure in humans," Cajochen said in a statement.