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Wellbeing

Can a full moon affect your sleep and mood?

August 4th 2017 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru / 0 comment

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More science or science fiction? There could be more to a full moon than meets the eye. With one on the horizon, we decided to take a closer look

Are there times of the month where you don’t feel quite yourself, but can’t work out why? If you haven’t changed anything in your diet, hormones aren’t to blame and it isn’t stress-related, it could be worth checking the forecast, because a full moon may be behind disrupted sleep, fluctuations in mood and in some cases, changes in behaviour.

Now, hear us out. It might sound a little far-fetched to look skywards for a reason, but the theory has received a certain degree of attention in recent years - most notably following a Swiss study conducted in 2013 exploring the link between moon cycles and sleep patterns.

Having been intrigued by a potential link between the moon and biological rhythms in certain sea species, researchers set out to see if the same could be said for humans too. Assessing two nights of sleep data from 33 healthy volunteers collected within the confines of a sleep laboratory, they found that on nights around the full moon, participants took longer to fall asleep (around five minutes more on average), spent about 30% less time in a deep sleep, slept for 20 minutes less and also displayed lower levels of the ‘sleep hormone’ melatonin. Reasonably modest changes yes, but the researchers described the experiment as “the first reliable evidence” of the connection between the moon’s cycle and sleeping patterns in humans, with the findings attracting widespread press coverage as a result. From a health perspective, the so-called ‘lunar effect’ seems to have been felt in hospitals too, with spiking admission rates during a full moon having been reported and a 2011 study in the World Journal of Surgery finding that over 40 per cent of medical staff thought that human behaviour was affected by lunar rhythms.

While the area requires greater investigation within the medical community in order to establish a direct causal link, it all appears to be too much of a coincidence to be simply dismissed as cosmic claptrap. In fact, the connection carries a level of credence in the yogic world with full moons often viewed as auspicious times in the calendar. It’s a phenomenon that leading yoga for insomnia expert Lisa Sanfilippo, has seen both first-hand and in her classes. “If I'm not tracking the moon cycle and have a night when I can't sleep and there's no reason in terms of stress, caffeine or something upsetting me, 9 times of 10 there is a full moon,” she says. “I observe how people show up in yoga classes, in the psychotherapy room and socially and people tend on the whole to have a harder time getting to sleep during a full moon.”

Her recommendations for helping fight full moon fatigue? “Do calming and settling yoga specifically designed to prepare the body and mind for deep rest and sleep,” she recommends, such as this free sequence on her site. “If sleep is still elusive, a mid-afternoon restorative yoga pose or meditation will replenish energy without removing the drive to sleep later in the night.”

In astrology, the moon is said to govern our emotional life

The role of the moon on our overall sense of wellbeing has also been highlighted as a point of importance within the astrological and astronomical spheres and goes some way to help explain the connection between moon and mood. “In astrology, the moon is said to govern our emotional life,” explains founder of The Numinous and author of Material Girl Mystical World, Ruby Warrington. “In astronomy, it's known that the moon is connected to the ebb and flow of the tides - and as women, our menstrual cycle also mirrors the waxing and waning of the moon, meaning it takes 28 to 29 days for the moon to go from new to full and back again, completing one full moon cycle.”

This parallel between moon and menstrual cycles is a particularly fascinating point. “This is why some people have made the connection between mood, sleep and health and the moon,” says astrologer and GTG Expert, Jessica Adams, also drawing attention to its influence in other areas too. “The moon describes mothers and mothering,” she explains. “It shows how we need to be needed by other people (or animals) and why that happens.”

Much like yogic interpretations, full moons also carry particular astrological importance. “Full and new moons represent endings and new beginnings, and since each of these moons will occur in a different sign of the zodiac, they each carry different significance in terms of the areas of life that will be impacted,” explains Ruby. With a full moon set to hit our shores on Monday the 7th of August, (also known as the Sturgeon Moon), what potential factors are worth bearing in mind? “The August 7th full moon is also a lunar eclipse, and it will occur in the sign of Aquarius,” says Ruby. “Collectively it points to a sudden and dramatic ending - to allow for the birth of something new. Being in the sign of Aquarius, this could be in the region of group projects, technology, futurism and humanitarian efforts. The overall vibe of this moon is one of revolution.”

Jessica also anticipates further upheavals during both this and the next full moon later on this month. “The full moon on the 7th of August is an eclipse, but the more serious one on 21st August is when America will go dark,” she says, rather ominously. “This particular eclipse is about a cover-up involving the White House.” Considering current world events, it looks like the moon may well have captured the world’s mood rather perfectly in this instance.

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