The Full Moon and Lunacy – Myth vs. Science

Have you seen the enormous full moon that set about the wolves, lunatics, and rise in births this week? I started to blame all sorts of problems on it from a lack of sleep to being an ass hole. I even tried to find scientific based evidence to back up this lunacy. Alas, there is none because the facts of science contradict the myths that a full moon brings every 29.5 days of the year and my wolf like attributes are, in fact, not full moon induced. Turns out I’m just a nocturnal ass hole.

If you saw the full moon this week you may have gone to bed thinking “just save me now before I drown in my own bed sweat in fear of all things bad that a full moon brings. The luminous moon is shining brighter than the north star and isn’t leading me to anywhere other than the deep, dark, depths of Elm Street where the man waiting for me in the mirror stands with his chainsaw”.

The full moon is obviously not that scary, but when it’s night time and your partner is away on Coast Guard duties and you’re thinking about the full moon and your blog it was never going to be an easy night’s sleep.

I woke up to a Winston Churchill figure standing by my bed looking at me as he slowly walked towards me and sat down in my bedside chair. He stared at me until eventually he just disappeared. “It must be a full moon”, I thought. I can take the option of believing it was a full moon induced dream, or just a bad dream. I often have bad dreams, especially when I eat a lot of cheese, and I did have a slab of goats cheese in my wrap for dinner.

As Robert Roy Britt at LiveScience.com explains, “Several researchers point out one likely answer: When strange things happen at full moon, people notice the ‘coincidental’ big bright orb in the sky and wonder. When strange things happen during the rest of the month, well, they’re just considered strange, and people don’t tie them to celestial events”.

We always look for the evidence that confirms what we want to believe. When I woke up, I wanted to believe that the full moon had put me slightly off balance mentally and sent Winston Churchill to my bedside. In search of full moon facts I went on selectively reading the articles that backed me up and proved that the full moon was the cause of my scary night. With every mythical theory, though, came a scientific smash in the face.

The Full Moon and Lunacy

I thought this was the answer to my full moon sleeplessness. I could have been falling into a story book where lunacy prevails over the damsel before she transforms into a werewolf and jumps out of the window to join the rest of the pack before scurrying home at sunrise. These lunacy theories from a mythical bygone era can be explained, it would seem.

Because our body is made up of around 75% water there was once the argument that the balance of our brain was put off by the strong tides brought about by a full moon. This imbalance created an element of lunacy in us. However, there is just as much gravitational pull from a new moon as a full moon, and we don’t hear many people say after experiencing some kind of lunacy or oddity, that “it must be a new moon out there tonight”.

More so, the gravitational pull from the moon only affects open bodies of water, of which we as humans are clearly not. As Hal Arkowitz says from The Scientific American, “the gravitational effects of the moon are too minuscule to generate any meaningful effects on brain activity, let alone behaviour”

There is also, historically, the idea of asylums and hospitals being a more dangerous place with a full moon, because the behaviours in patients became more extreme. Researchers found that those more affected by the full moon were patients with bi-polar or epilepsy. These illnesses made people more susceptible to sleep deprivation, too, and because there was no man-made modern lighting during this historical period patients were often kept awake by the brightness of the full moon. This subsequently led to patients experiencing the side effects of sleep deprivation making them behave in more extreme versions of their illness.

Also, “one study showed that psychiatric nurses who believed in the lunar effect wrote more notes about patients’ peculiar behaviour than did nurses who did not believe in this effect,” as Arkowits points out, and he says that we believe in this preconception about the full moon, “because such co-occurrences fit with our preconceptions”. These are often preconceptions set about by Hollywood, fabulous literature, and the media.

Robert Roy Britt concludes saying, that “reliable studies comparing the lunar phases to births, hearth attacks, deaths, suicides, violence, psychiatric hospital admissions and epileptic seizures, among other things, have over and over again found little or no connection”

As it goes, when you actively seek evidence to back up your beliefs you can be selective on what you choose to read. Contrary to the above, I still believe my sleeplessness and hallucinatory night was because of the full moon. I am confident that the high percentage of water in my brain was put off balance by the strong gravitational pull from the full moon and this sent Winston Churchill into my bedroom.

Have a lovely Sunday! x





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s