The lunar cycle is often believed to impact and influence the human body and its emotions. Several individuals associate the moon, especially the full moon to induce several mood swings within them.
LA-based astrologer Athena Perrakis, Ph.D. explains, “The full moon affects our bodies and it affects the oceans. Since our bodies are made up, proportionally, of so much water, it’s easy to understand how the moon would pull us and sway us just like the ocean.”
Well, what might sound like a saga from old school myths, might actually have some science behind it. Two separate studies, that were recently published have given accountability about how the full moon affects sleep and menstrual cycles.
Full moon and sleeping patterns
A study published in the journal Science Advances showed that sleep cycles are likely to change with the lunar cycle. It was conducted by a group of scientists from the University of Washington, the National University of Quilmes in Argentina, and Yale University.
This experiment involved the study of college students across the city of Seattle, Washington. It also involved studying those living in indigenous communities in northern Argentina. This diversity in participants’ living environments was incorporated to see the individual’s access to electricity and how artificial light may be an affecting force on sleep.
Thus, they examined 98 individuals habited in three Toba-Qom indigenous communities in Formosa, Argentina. Additionally, they made use of the previously stored sleep data of 464 college students in the Seattle area.
The study had interesting findings. The association between sleep cycles and lunar cycles is a bit more intense in communities without electricity access. But the impact also seems to exist in developed city areas with electricity. It concluded that people tend to go to sleep late. They also sleep for lesser hours in the times leading up to a full moon.
Study author Leandro Casiraghi from the University of Washington said "We hypothesize that the patterns we observed are an innate adaptation that allowed our ancestors to take advantage of this natural source of evening light that occurred at a specific time during the lunar cycle."
There are several previous pieces of research conducted in the past that are a backup to this study. Psychiatrist David Avery, in 2005 probed that the moon and its gravitational pull on the Earth were severely affecting a patient’s sleep cycle, varying from a situation of borderline insomnia to a case of achieving full 12 hours of sleep at night. A 2013 study also proved that participants took around five minutes to fall asleep. It also said that they slept for around 20 mins less during the days leading up to the full moon.
Lunar cycles and menstrual cycles
There are several myths revolving around how lunar cycles have an influence on the menstrual cycles and fertility of women. Most of these are a facade, but there is certainly some link established between menstrual cycles and moon cycles. This was proven by researchers in a separate study, also published in Science Advances
This experiment studied long-term data on menstrual cycle onset with data averaging a length of 15 years. It incorporated information of women both under and over age 35. Thus, the analysis involved menstrual cycle records of 22 women over a period of 32 years. This data was contrasted with the fluctuations in the lunar cycles to see a comparison.
The findings of women involved in the experiment were highly intriguing. It stated of those whose menstrual cycles lasted longer than 27 days displayed "intermittently synchronized with cycles that affect the intensity of moonlight." The findings also stated that this synchronization slowly diminished with time as the participants aged. The connection was much lesser where the exposure to artificial light was more.
The statement also said, "menstrual cycles also aligned with the tropical month (the 27.32 days it takes the Moon to pass twice through the same equinox point) 13.1% of the time in women 35 years and younger and 17.7% of the time in women over 35, suggesting that menstruation is also affected by shifts in the moon’s gravimetric forces."
Thus, these above studies do draw a fine line between the myths and realities of the impact lunar cycles have on human bodies. They effectively establish the varying influence of the phases of the moon. They also give interesting findings related to our sleeping patterns and the menstrual cycles in women.