We’ve all heard people complain about being up all night thanks to the full moon. You might have even experienced it in your own life, or at least noticed that you feel wide awake on the night of a full moon. But what’s the truth about the full moon effect? Does a full moon really keep you from being able to get to sleep and can it really have an impact on your mood? The truth may surprise you.
Some Facts About the Full Moon
In ancient times, looking into the sky and seeing a full moon must have been fascinating because we had no idea what caused it. All we knew was that it happened on a very predictable schedule. But today we know scientifically what causes a full moon. In fact, a full moon occurs when one side of the earth is fully illuminated by the moon. It occurs when the sun, moon, and earth are lined up with the earth in the middle. From our perspective, the rays of the sun are fully illuminating the moon, which makes it appear full. As the position of the sun, moon, and earth change, so too does the way we view the moon. Of course, the shape of the moon isn’t changing, just our view of it.
How Does a Full Moon Impact Us Energetically?
If you’ve ever felt more energetic on the night of a full moon, you’re not alone. Or more specifically, you’re not the only member of the animal kingdom to feel this way. A study published in the November 2008 edition of the journal Animal Behavior, found that the “full moon effect” isn’t folklore, at least not when it comes to animals.
The streaked shearwater, a seabird followed in the study, flew for longer periods of time and landed on the water more often on nights when there was a full moon. Since the birds are in the middle of the food chain, it seems that they not only moved more to avoid predators that were also wide awake, they also sought the opportunity to go after their prey, smaller marine animals like squid.
Other research has pointed to the fact that similar to the way the full moon impacts the tides, it could also impact the water in our bodies which could tip the scale toward extreme emotions. While we don’t know this for sure, we do know that many of us feel unsettled on full moon nights. Some police departments, including one in Sussex, England, put more police officers on staff the night of full moons because there seemed to be a correlation between the full moon and violent crime.
Does the Full Impact Sleep?
People have long reported that the full moon impacts their sleep. But is there any truth to this? The short answer is yes.
A team of researchers at the University of Basel, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and the Switzerland Centre for Sleep Medicine, followed 32 participants to look at brainwave activity and levels of melatonin in the brain when participants had fallen asleep. The original intent of the research wasn’t to look at the full moon effect, but years later researchers decided to look back at the data and see how the full moon impacted sleep. The findings are published in the July 2013 edition of Current Biology.
The data showed that during the full moon and on the nights surrounding a full moon participants took three or four minutes longer to fall asleep and on average they slept 20 fewer minutes per night.
The reason why is less clear but scientists do have some ideas. It could be because even though we have curtains and homes to block the light of a bright full moon, our circadian rhythms, which evolved over millions of years, are still somehow attached to the lunar cycle. This might be why it impacts us energetically and why one time or another you might have wished you could howl at the moon. The bottom line, you’re not crazy, the full moon could have a noticeable impact on your sleep and maybe even your mood.
What to Do During a Full Moon
That said, this doesn’t mean you can blame extreme shifts in emotion on the moon. While you may notice differences in the way you feel during a full moon, don’t act on those emotions. These tips can help you manage your full moon effect.
1. Don’t make big decisions
Just because you’re sitting up all night digesting your full moon insomnia doesn’t mean you should use that extra time to make big decisions. Save it for another phase of the lunar cycle.
2. Know the lunar cycle
If you find that the full moon effect has a big impact on your life, why not find out a little more about it? Learn the entire cycle of the moon so you can have an idea of what to expect.
3. Write it down
Instead of acting out, let your emotions spill out onto the page of your journal. Journaling can help with the release of emotions. It’s a good habit to get into anyway, so why not give it a try during the next full moon?
4. Meditate daily
This is true of any day of the week really, but meditation can help you both notice patterns in your emotions and even out some of the highs and lows. Regular meditation can also keep you from being so reactionary when it comes to your emotions.
Does the full moon have an effect on you? Does it make it harder for you to fall asleep? What about your emotions? We want to know! Drop us a line via Twitter @EcoSalon.