It can seem like weird things tend to happen during a full moon—just ask any labor and delivery nurse, psychiatric hospital worker, or teacher with 25 first-graders testing her patience. Anecdotes abound about the ways that lunar cycles affect everything from births to road rage to crime.
But what does science have to say about the moon’s so-called magical powers? Could it really be responsible for the way we act and feel? We looked at studies and asked the experts and concluded that the answer is a resounding “maybe.”
“The moon undoubtedly has an emotional effect,” says Jean-Luc Margot, PhD, an astronomer at UCLA. “It’s a beautiful celestial object that fills us with a feeling of awe, but that’s about all it does to us.” And yet some studies do suggest a connection between lunar phases and certain health conditions—but not for the reasons you might suspect. Curious? Read on to find out what the night sky could have in store for you. And then read up on the6 things Mercury in retrograde could mean for your health.
You toss and turn all night.
If you find yourself unable to catch a wink whenever there’s a full moon, it may not be a coincidence. Research from Switzerland published in Current Biology found that people slept less, had poorer quality sleep, and took longer to fall asleep when the moon was full. They also had decreased melatonin levels, suggesting that the moon’s brightness (not its magical powers) may have tamped down the body’s sleep signals.
An attempt to replicate this study’s results with a larger data set failed, according to a 2014 review in Current Biology, but a 2014 study published in Sleep Medicine also found that sleep clinic patients suffered poorer sleep during the full moon.