We have seen scary movies of vampires getting power from it. Wolves howl at it. Just how powerful is that iconic full moon emanating light inside your bedroom? There have been a lot of mythical meanings implied to full moons. Some claim they signify impending danger. Others point them out as a time for new beginnings. But as we shove such proclamations aside, there is scientific evidence to prove that the lunar effect on human behavior is real. The full moon can indeed trigger emotional reactions and elicit extreme behavior. (Rotten & Kelly, 1985)
There is credence is these assertions regarding the lunar effect on human behavior. In recent years there have been reports of increase admission in mental hospitals during a full moon. Consider what this report says;
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORTED THAT ITS STAFF STRONGLY BELIEVED THERE WAS A STRONG LINK BETWEEN TIMES OF FULL MOON AND HIGH ADMISSION RATES AT A MENTAL HOSPITAL IN CONNECTICUT. POLICE FORCES HAVE ALSO REPORTED AN INCREASE IN CRIME RATES AT SUCH TIMES. ONE THEORY TO EXPLAIN SUCH CONDUCT IS THAT THE MOVEMENT OF THE MOON IS AFFECTED BY THE WATER IN A HUMAN BODY WHICH TIPS THE BALANCE IN OUR MINDS, TRIGGERING EXTREME EMOTIONS.
The Moon’s Effect on the brain
Dr.Niall Mcrae, a lecturer in a mental health at King’s College London admits that the full moon does have an effect on the human brain. Insomnia is a common occurrence in people during periods of a full moon. This is further proof of the lunar effect on human behavior. Is there a scientific explanation to this? On average people sleep for 20 minutes less when there is a full moon. Such a small deprivation of sleep may sound insignificant but not for somebody with a mental illness like bipolar disorder. This brief disturbance of sleep pattern could mean a huge episode of psychological distress. If a patient or two in a mental hospital cannot sleep because of a full moon, this could cause irritability, anger, and restlessness among the other disturbed patients. (Vijayalakshmi & Ramakrishna, 1992).
A study conducted in relation to the behavior of Alzheimer patients by Alan M. Beck of Purdue University confirmed that there could be a lunar effect on human behavior on these patients. They exhibited these behaviors in greater duration during full moon;
- Physical aggression
- Verbal hostility
A mystery unsolved
The moon has definitely some effect on us. The results of a study conducted by chronobiologists from the University of Basel provides strong evidence. A rigorously collected data from 33 volunteers was carried out in an attempt to study the effects of the lunar effect on human behavior regarding sleep quality, brain activity, hormone secretions and sleep phases. The participants were isolated from fluctuations from natural light. At full moon, the peak in melatonin levels was delayed by almost 50 minutes. The duration it took for the volunteers to be in deep slumber dropped by 30%.
For some, it may be just a drop in sleep. For those with a mental illness this may mean great emotional distress. Yet, we can never fully understand the complete impact of the full moon on the human brain. The primary thing is to know how to take good care of your loved ones who exhibit strange or unusual behavior when there is the full moon. What will you do to calm them down?
- Vijayalakshmi, D. & Ramakrishna, P. (1992)Effect of lunar phases on the incidence of mental
illness. Andhra Pradesh Journal of Psychological Medicine, 5, 48-55.
Research. Psychological Bulletin, 97, 286-306.
- Rotten, J. & Kelly, I.W. (1985) Much a do about the full moon: A meta-analysis of lunar-lunacy