Does the Full Moon Affect Us?


| 3 Comments

We've all heard stories about the full moon. Whether they be about werewolves or a little more set in reality, such as people with psychological problems acting differently during a full moon. It's not such a wild theory, considering almost 75% of our body is water and the moon has been known to affect water in terms of tides. How does the moon really affect us though?

 

It turns out that the full moon doesn't affect us psychologically. One study looked at 771 patients who visited an emergency room in Montreal from 2005 to 2008 that complained of chest pains; but there was no physical problem seen. Many of these patients suffered from anxiety and other mood disorders and suicidal thoughts.  Looking at the time log, however, there was no connection to these visits during the full moon rather than the rest of the month.

 

While this suggests no connection between psychological problems and the lunar cycle, it cannot be sure.  While visiting the hospital complaining of a chest pain that isn't there ma be one symptom of a psychological problem, there are many other ways that a psychological problem can manifest. It's possible that it is manifesting in a way that is unrelated to a chest pain.

 

Another possible way that the moon can affect us is by affecting our sleep. In a study not originally meant to test the lunar effect of sleep, results show that the 33 participants in the three-year study's sleep patterns were affected by the lunar cycle. On average the participants took five minutes longer to fall asleep on the three to four days surrounding the full moon and slept for 20 fewer minutes. Also melatonin rates were decreased by 30% and participants reported feeling more tired the next day.

 

This suggests that there is a connection between the moon and our sleep, but doesn't explain why. Is it because the light of the moon distracts us from sleep? Is it something more primal, such as an instinct to not fall asleep too deeply in case other predators choose to use the moonlight to hunt. Though the moon doesn't affect us in the ways we may originally think of by making us transform into another creature, it certainly has other affects on our sleep.

Full-Moon.jpg

 

3 Comments

From an evolutionary standpoint, it makes perfect sense why people's moods and bodies seem to be affected by the full moon. If we are hardwired to stay awake for the fear of predators, the lack of sleep could cause slight mood and bodily changes. Also, if the excess light is detrimental to our sleep cycles, this could be the cause of bodily function changes as well. I wonder if it goes beyond a change in sleep patterns though, but to me it makes perfect sense that if the full moon affects sleep it could be harmful to our well-being.
This article further explains how the full moon affects sleep:
http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/08/economist-explains-0

This was a cool post to read. The Montreal study definitely furthers the point that humans are bad at inferring and making connections. Do you think it is just an old wives' tale? I've never really understood the whole fascination either.
This article I found dives into the question: are there really more births on full moons?

According to this article by the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, http://castle.eiu.edu/~scienced/3290/science/whatisscience/moonmyth.html , "no consistent relationship between phases of the moon and acts usually described as lunatic". The article also goes on to say that the reason why people believe in such odd occurrences happening is because of the media, non-existent understanding of physics, and psychological basis. Studies are really all over the place under this topic, however there is no hard evidence saying that full moons really do affect us in any way. Therefore, we shouldn't be so inclined to believe such superstitious tales like that of a full moon.

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