How many times have you uttered the phrase, “It must be a full moon,” to explain the bizarre behavior of friends, family members, strangers, and even your pet? I don’t have to point out that the Greek word “Luna” is, after all, a prefix of the word “lunatic.”
Last night, while taking in the lovely waning gibbous moon (a moon that is one-half, but less than three-fourths along its orbit) I was contemplating the urban legend that claims that the moon can, in fact, influence humans and other animals in crazy ways. Although much of the research is contradictory on this topic, it’s entertaining to look at the scientific studies that point to phases within the lunar cycle and their mysterious powers on the body, mood, and behaviour of mammals…
1. The Lunar Cycle and Sleep Cycle
The cow might have jumped over the moon in the popular nursery rhyme, Hey Diddle Diddle, however, a study published in the Current Biology journal claims that’s probably because the circalunar cycle was keeping him awake at night! The study monitored the sleep habits of 33 individuals, over a period of 30-days that slumbered organically in a sleep lab void of exterior lights or clocks or outside light. Findings showed that 4-days prior and following a full moon, study participants took an average of 5-minutes longer to fall asleep, and slept 30-percent less soundly due to producing decreased levels of melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone).