Try "Moon Breathing" For Better Sleep During The Full Moon

Nod off in no time.

A yogic breathing technique called "moon breathing" can help you sleep better during a full moon.
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The full moon is pretty and all, but can sometimes ruin your sleep. With a giant, glowing harvest moon promising to light up your bedroom window on Friday, Sept. 29, it’ll help to have a few sleep tricks in your back pocket, like the aptly named “moon breathing” technique.

Moon breathing, or chandra anga, is the yogic practice of breathing in through your left nostril while closing off your right nostril, says Gemma Nice, a yoga teacher with MattressNextDay. This type of breathwork helps calm your body and mind by regulating your parasympathetic nervous system so that you can de-stress and fall asleep, she explains.

This is helpful anytime you need to snooze, but especially during the full moon, says Emily Ridout, an astrologer and AstroYoga specialist. “Full moons pull what is latent to the surface, so it’s not uncommon to experience insomnia or a release of anxiety or emotion during the lunation,” she tells Bustle.

Getting good sleep is important for your overall well-being, of course, it’ll also help you make the most of the full moon’s energy. According to Rideout, a full lunation is the perfect time to release what no longer serves you, which is why it’ll feel extra nice to rest, relax, and reset with some serious Zzzs... courtesy of some breathwork.

Read on for everything to know about moon breathing, including how to give it a try.

Why The Full Moon Effects Your Sleep

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If you’ve been struggling to fall asleep this week, you’re not alone. According to Nice, a full moon can affect your sleep schedule up to five days before it happens. This is due in part to the appearance of extra light shining off the moon, which can cause you to toss and turn and lose a few hours of sleep. But she says a full moon can also impact how you feel.

The phases of the moon affect the tides in the ocean, and that same energy affects humans. “We can also be a little more irritable during the full moon because the energies are out of sync,” says Nice. This is why you might feel on edge, cranky, or a little too moody to sleep.

Friday’s full moon also has a particularly chaotic energy, which only adds to the overall sense of insomnia. “This full moon is at the final degree in the zodiac before it would have been an eclipse,” Ridout says. “It’s the final moment before eclipse season begins, which is notoriously a time of quick shifts and change.”

What Is Moon Breathing?

According to Nice, moon breathing is a yogic technique that’s been around for ages. “It’s where you breathe only through your left nostril and close off your right nostril, which helps you fall asleep faster than normal and improves your overall sleep quality,” she says, noting that it can help combat the sleep disruption felt by the full moon.

This type of pranayama, or controlled breathing through your left nostril, not only helps you feel more centered and relaxed, but it also stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system so you can “rest and digest,” Nice says. “The more you do this type of breath, the easier it is to stay calm and relaxed.”

If you’ve ever tried the pranayama called alternate nostril breathing, it’s very similar to that. “They slightly differ because, with alternate nostril breathing, you can pause your breath after the exhale and then carry on the pattern of inhaling and exhaling through each nostril,” she says. You also switch and breathe out through your right nostril, whereas moon breathing is all about inhaling and exhaling through the left.

How To Do Moon Breathing

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Here, Ridout breaks down how to do a moon breath. Try it before bed or whenever you need to relax.

- Come to a seated or reclined position and close your eyes.

- Relax your shoulders down and away from your ears.

- Take in a deep breath.

- Fill your lungs and feel your chest expand.

- Use your right thumb to close off your right nostril.

- Rest your other fingers down the palm of your hand or extend the fourth and fifth fingers across your face.

- Repeat for a few minutes or until your mind has settled and you feel calmer and more relaxed.

Studies referenced:

Bhavanani, AB. (2012). Immediate effect of chandra nadi pranayama (left unilateral forced nostril breathing) on cardiovascular parameters in hypertensive patients. Int J Yoga. doi: 10.4103/0973-6131.98221.

Cajochen, C. (2013). Evidence that the lunar cycle influences human sleep. Current Biology. doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2013.06.029.

Malhotra, V. (2022). Immediate autonomic changes during right nostril breathing and left nostril breathing in regular yoga practitioners. J Educ Health Promot. doi: 10.4103/jehp.jehp_343_22.

Ozturk, D. (2018). The effect of unilateral forced nostril breathing on sleep in healthy right-handed men: a preliminary report. Sleep Breath. doi: 10.1007/s11325-018-1648-0.

Pal, G. K. (2014). Slow Yogic Breathing Through Right and Left Nostril Influences Sympathovagal Balance, Heart Rate Variability, and Cardiovascular Risks in Young Adults. North American Journal of Medical Sciences, 6(3), 145-151. https://doi.org/10.4103/1947-2714.128477

Santhanam Kumar, SS. (2020). Effect of Unilateral Left Nostril Breathing (Chandra Anga Pranayama) on Cognitive Function in Healthy Yoga-Naïve Individuals: A Randomized, Controlled, Pilot Study. Complement Med Res. doi: 10.1159/000506972.


Gemma Nice, yoga teacher with MattressNextDay

Emily Ridout, astrologer, AstroYoga specialist