The Moon Didn’t Make You Do It

A full moon doesn’t alter sleep or behavior in children, new study found.

People blame the full moon for all sorts of things from insanity to aggression to hectic emergency rooms. Popular opinion seems to suggest that humans are as susceptible to the pull of a full moon as the tide. Now, new research shines fresh light on centuries of moon myths.

According to a press release issued by Frontiers in Pediatrics, a new study suggests that the full moon does not significantly alter sleep or behavior in children.

Many have speculated that the moon’s power to induce insanity stemmed from disturbed sleep. To examine the possible link between modified behavior, sleep and moon phases, a group of international researchers studied the sleeping patters of children.

"We considered that performing this research on children would be particularly more relevant because they are more amenable to behavior changes than adults and their sleep needs are greater than adults," study co-author Dr. Jean-Philippe Chaput said in the press release.

Dr. Chaput is a research scientist at the Eastern Ontario Research Institute.

To conduct the study, Dr. Chaput and his team members studied a total of 5,812 children in 12 countries, including Brazil, US, China, Kenya and Australia. The children, who were all between the ages of nine and 11, came from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds.

According to the press release, the team collected data over 28 months--equal to the same number of lunar cycles. For the purpose of the study, the team categorized the moon into three phases: full moon, half-moon and new moon.

In addition to recording the average nocturnal sleep duration of the children, the team also recorded their physical activity and total sedentary time. This data was monitored over seven consecutive days using a waist-worn accelerometer.

The team found that nocturnal sleep duration around the full moon compared to the new moon reported an average decrease of 5 minutes (or a one percent variant). The team found no differences in physical activity or sedentary time among the children.

"Our study provides compelling evidence that the moon does not seem to influence people's behavior,” Dr. Chaput said in the press release.

"Overall, I think we should not be worried about the full moon," Dr. Chaput said. "Our behaviors are largely influenced by many other factors like genes, education, income and psychosocial aspects rather than by gravitational forces.”

This study was published in Frontiers in Pediatrics.

The authors disclosed no financial conflicts on interest.