The belief that the moon influences human health and sickness has been a time-tested one, lasting throughout many ages. There have been numerous accounts of a rise in violent crimes during full moons, in folklore and traditional medicine. In fact, a Mesopotamian tablet from 172 BCE, displayed at The Moon exhibition in 2019, was inscribed with descriptions on how to ward off the evil effects of a lunar eclipse. In ancient Greece and Rome, girls were given crescent-shaped amulets on their birthdays to protect them from evil spirits. Women also wore them to improve fertility and for protection during childbirth. [1]

The influence of the lunar cycle is especially profound in Hindu mythology and practice. A Sanskrit saying ‘Yat Pinde Tat Brahmande’, which translates to ‘Whatever is in this body is in the cosmos too’, holds great significance. Ancient cultures always believed in the inter-connectedness of beings and that everything affects everything else. This created room for reverence for the celestial bodies among many native cultures in the world. A fundamental connection that is drawn is that the moon influences the water element, and the way tides rise and fall. Our bodies are made up of 90% water, so it is not unlikely that the moon should have an influence on our bodies and mind as well. Quantum physics talks about how everything in the universe—stars, planets, galaxies, living beings—operates on a certain frequency. Similarly, the frequency of the moon also interacts with the frequency of our mind to create an impact on us, influencing both the conscious and subconscious mind. [2]

The moon’s impact on human health has been speculated for millennia. In ancient Roman philosophy, Pliny the Elder postulated that the moon could ‘penetrate all things’, influencing tides, marine life, plants, animals, and human activity. While science has since explained some lunar phenomena, like tides and eclipses, much is still shrouded in mystery. Probably the most pervasive of all lunar legends is the moon’s ability to affect night-time behavior. There is no shortage of tales recounting nocturnal mayhem, sleep disturbances, and insomnia driven by the moon’s untold power. Does this hold true? Modern research methods have shed new light on the relationship between moon phases, sleep, mental health, and diseases. [3]

Phases of the moon

The moon undergoes a transformation every month and this is due to the shape of the directly sunlit portion of the moon as viewed from earth. The lunar phases gradually change over a [synodic](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbital_period#Synodic_period “Orbital period”) month (about 29.53 days) as the Moon’s orbital positions around Earth and Earth around the Sun shift. The visible side of the moon is sunlit to different extents, depending on the position of the Moon in its orbit. Thus, this face’s sunlit portion can vary from 0% (at new moon) to 100% (at full moon). There are four main lunar phases: the new moon, first quarter, full moon, and last quarter (also known as a third or final quarter), when the Moon’s ecliptic longitude is at an angle to the Sun (as viewed from the center of the Earth) of 0°, 90°, 180°, and 270°, respectively. Each of these phases appears at slightly different times at different locations on Earth. Intermediate phases appear in the interval between the main phases and include crescent and gibbous. The description of ‘waxing’ is used for the stage when the Moon’s apparent shape is thickening, from new to a full moon, and ‘waning’ when the shape is thinning from full to new moon. [4]

The Lunar cycle effect on sleep

Although the sun is the primary source of light and synchronizer of circadian rhythms for most species, moonlight to modulates nocturnal activities in many species. Moonlight is quite bright to the human eye and in the absence of any other source of light, it may have affected sleep and human nocturnal activity. But the actual effect it has on humans is still shrouded in controversy. Many studies contradict the effect of the lunar cycle on sleep, but more recently, studies conducted in strictly controlled laboratory conditions have proven the effects of the lunar cycle on sleep. [5]

In the natural world, lunar impact on biological rhythms are well documented, for example, variations in tree diameter, reproductive patterns of crabs, spawning events in the Great Barrier Reef, and night-time activity of monkeys. Human studies indicate there’s a disruption of sleep with the full moon. One sleep study analysis used several metrics and found that the full moon was associated with worse sleep. During this lunar phase, participants took five minutes longer to fall asleep, slept for 20 minutes less, took longer to reach REM sleep, experienced a 30% reduction in deep sleep, and reported reduced sleep quality. Another study discovered that sleep time was reduced by 25 minutes while arousals and awakenings increased during a full moon. One analysis reviewed data from 319 people who underwent a one-night sleep study. Those observed during a full moon had lower sleep efficiency, less deep sleep, and delayed time reaching REM sleep. One of the most extensive studies on this topic was conducted on three indigenous Argentinian communities and 464 American college students from major cities. Regardless of their location and amount of artificial light exposure, all groups slept later and for the lesser time in the week preceding the full moon. [5]

Mechanisms by which the moon affects sleep

· Moonlight

Most theories for sleep disruption during a full moon, pin the amount of sunlight reflected back to earth as a causative agent. The body’s circadian rhythm is controlled by the rise and fall in hormones, which respond to light. Therefore, light levels are one of the most significant influences on sleep onset and quality. However, there are concerns about the moon’s luminance as the primary mechanism for sleep disruption. Moonlight brightness is only 7% the strength of sunlight.[3]

· Electromagnetism

One theory gaining popularity is the moon’s ability to cause electromagnetic fluctuations on Earth. Earth’s electromagnetic field has a long tail or “magnetotail” shaped by solar winds. As the moon orbits Earth each month, it passes through the magnetotail during the full moon phase and becomes negatively charged. The moon’s magnetic charge can then influence Earth’s electromagnetic field through a sophisticated feedback process. Research suggests that humans are sensitive to these geomagnetic variations. Other events such as geomagnetic storms and the aurora borealis have also been connected to a range of health effects, such as headaches, blood pressure fluctuation, and heart rate variability. The exact mechanism of action is not yet known but can be attributed to hormone levels, DNA breaks, and inflammation. [3]

· Gravity

The human body is made of mostly water, and it is natural for research to look at the gravitational pull of the moon to be able to affect human health, just as it affects ocean tides. But this theory hasn’t garnered much proof, mainly since the impact of the gravitational pull of the moon on a person is less than one-millionth of the size of an atom and cannot cause any significant impact. Also, the gravitational pull of the moon is roughly similar on a full moon and new moon days, thus leading to the dismissal of this theory. [3]

Health and Diseases

Some health conditions such as seizures, gout attacks, heart conditions, and gastrointestinal conditions are impacted by the lunar cycle. Polychronopoulos et al analyzed the effects of the lunar phases on seizure occurrence in the emergency unit and found a significant increase in seizure occurrence on full moon days, while the rates were lower on all other days of the lunar cycle. This might be due to the direct effect of the moon on the patient or due to the impact of the patient’s behavior.

Daily occurrence of gout attacks has been found to peak at the new moon and full moon days of the synodic lunar cycle. Maximum attacks have occurred with the peaking of the lunisolar tidal effect. Similar relation of attacks to the synodic moon was seen in bronchial asthma of children, and a reciprocal one in paroxysmal tachyarrhythmia. The attack of atrial fibrillation in male subjects during a 14-year study is lowest in the full moon and a marked increase to peak shortly after the extreme southern position of the moon in the tropic cycle. A very recent study investigated that visual acuity was highest at the full moon and lowest at the new moon. Roman et al, compared the number of admissions of gastrointestinal hemorrhages on a full moon and new moon days, across a 2 year period and found an increase in the admissions on full moon days. [6]

​Mental Health

Circadian rhythms not only affect sleep but are also known to affect mental and physical health. With the increased use of artificial light sources, circadian rhythms are adapting to new sleep-wake cycles and further influence other conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. [7] The belief that the lunar cycle is associated with the onset and severity of psychiatric symptoms has persisted since the Middle Ages. This belief still occurs in some mental health professionals, who report that the agitation of psychiatric symptoms induced by the full moon results in increased admissions, suicides, homicides, and emergency department (ED) visits. Opinion surveys conducted with ED personnel also indicate the belief that the demand for patient services increases during the full moon.

One study looked at a 3-day, 24-hours, and 12-hours model of ED presentations and found no influence on the 3-day model. But with the 24-hours and 12-hours models, a significant effect of the lunar cycle was observed, resulting in higher psychiatric ED presentations during the full moon. In the 24-hours period, it was also found that patients presenting with personality disorders had a more severe episode during a full moon. [8]

Bipolar disorder is highly prone to the lunar cycle, and this has been established with proof. Specifically, one study examined 17 patients with bipolar disorder, which tended to switch from depression to mania very rapidly, during full moon days. This study found that the circadian pacemaker, which is a small group of nerves, becomes synchronized with the lunar cycle. This triggers changes in sleep which further triggers severe symptoms of bipolar disorder. [7]

Human Behavior

Lunar cycles have been known to influence human behavior with an increase in traffic accidents, crimes, suicides, etc. In one study that compared daily records of traffic accidents over a year, it was observed that the number of traffic accidents in a one-year period, were higher on the two days leading to the full moon and the lowest of full moon days. A computer-evaluated complex study conducted in Dade County, Florida, showed a clustering of homicides and aggravated assaults around the full moon days. This study further looked at sex differences in crime reporting and found an increase in calls from females and a decrease from males during the new-moon period. [9]

Menstruation and Fertility

Women’s average menstrual cycle is 28 days, and the moon follows a 29+ day cycle too. As per some Chinese researchers, this may not be just a coincidence, as they discovered that about 30% of women enrolled in the study, ovulated during a full moon, and menstruated during the new moon. The cultural term for this is White Moon Cycle and is said to mimic the fertility of Earth, the full moon being the most fertile.

Two studies conducted on a group of women with 28-to-29-day menstrual cycles found that most women menstruated around the new moon day and a reduced chance of menstruation was observed around full moon days. A study was conducted by Weigert et al. and they investigated the effect of the lunar cycle on in vitro fertilization. The study covered a period of 7 years and concluded a borderline increase in pregnancy rates during the perigee (closest to earth) cycle of the moon.[6]

Perception of the lunar cycle in Hindu mythology

Our physical body is said to have two types of energies as per Vedic literature — prana and mind or consciousness. In every organ of the body, there are two channels supplying energy. Lunar energy is said to enter the pineal gland and exercises control of all activities from night till the time we wake up. Performing meditative rituals during the full moon help in going inwards; transcends the mind and helps achieve full divinity within. The pineal gland, which is hormone controlled, reacts to the bioelectric signals of light and dark, and meditation activates this bioelectric energy.

How can following your instincts be enhanced through moon rituals?

Moon rituals can enhance following your instincts by providing a structured framework for tuning into your inner guidance. Just as the moon goes through its various phases, so do we experience cycles of intuition and clarity. By aligning your own rituals with the lunar phases, you can create a deeper connection to your instincts. For example, during the new moon, you can set intentions and plant the seeds of your desires, allowing your instincts to guide you towards what truly matters to you. During the full moon, you can reflect on your progress and release any obstacles that may be blocking your intuition. By incorporating moon rituals into your practice, you can create a sacred space for honing your instincts and gaining clarity on your path forward.

What is the significance of manifesting with the moon's cycles?

Manifesting with the moon cycles holds significance as it offers a way for individuals to deepen their connection with themselves. By aligning with the rhythms of the moon, people can incorporate regular rituals and practices into their lives that aid in managing stress and feeling grounded, particularly during times of uncertainty. The different phases of the moon, such as the new moon for beginnings and setting intentions, and the full moon for reflection and celebration, provide a framework for individuals to actively engage in manifesting their desires and acknowledging their achievements. By engaging with the moon cycles through meditation, journaling, and intention setting, individuals can tap into the energy of the moon to enhance their manifestation efforts and promote self-awareness and personal growth. Ultimately, manifesting with the moon cycles offers a holistic approach to connecting with one's intentions, emotions, and accomplishments, fostering a sense of empowerment and alignment with the natural ebb and flow of life.

How can turning inwards and asking questions help in self-discovery and setting intentions?

Turning inwards and asking questions can be crucial in the journey of self-discovery and setting intentions. By taking the time to delve deep into our thoughts and feelings, we allow ourselves the opportunity to understand our true motivations, desires, and values. This introspection helps us gain clarity on why we do certain things, what drives us, and what we truly want in life. Through conscious self-questioning and reflection, we can identify patterns, beliefs, and behaviors that may be holding us back or no longer serving us. This process enables us to set meaningful and authentic intentions that are aligned with our core values and aspirations. So, by turning inwards and asking meaningful questions, we equip ourselves with the necessary insights to foster personal growth, make intentional choices, and lead a more fulfilling and purposeful life.

What activities are recommended during the new moon phase for rest and rejuvenation?

During the new moon phase, it is recommended to engage in activities that promote rest and rejuvenation. This period is ideal for taking a break, allowing yourself time to recuperate and recharge. Embrace the stillness and silence that the darkness of the new moon brings. Consider indulging in activities such as taking a relaxing bath, applying a face mask, receiving a massage, or attending a healing workshop. Ensure that whatever you choose to do during this time contributes to nourishing your mind, body, and soul, allowing you to replenish your energy and revitalize yourself.

How can moon rituals be beneficial for self-care?

Moon rituals can be beneficial for self-care in various ways. Engaging in moon rituals allows individuals to create a sacred space where they can turn inward, set intentions, show themselves love, and harness empowerment. This practice encourages individuals to reflect on their needs, desires, and goals, providing an opportunity for introspection and self-exploration. By tuning into the phases of the moon, individuals can align their energy with the natural cycles of life, fostering a deeper connection with their intuition and inner wisdom. Through rest, reflection, and manifestation during the new moon, individuals can rejuvenate their spirits and gain clarity, enabling them to make informed decisions, embark on new beginnings, and ensure alignment with their true aspirations. Ultimately, moon rituals serve as a powerful tool for self-care by promoting self-awareness, emotional well-being, and personal growth.

How can one connect with their inner medicine and embrace personal growth during lunar cycles?

Connecting with your inner medicine and embracing personal growth during lunar cycles is a profound journey that involves aligning with the natural rhythms of the moon. By tracking the moon's phases and participating in moon ceremonies, individuals can synchronize themselves with the Earth's cycles and honor their inner wisdom. During the new moon, it is an opportune time to rest, reflect, and set intentions for personal growth. Taking moments to listen inwardly and connect with intuitive insights can help in understanding one's needs and desires more clearly. This phase encourages diving deep into one's inner self and allowing the feminine aspects to emerge, irrespective of gender. By embracing this inward journey, individuals can nurture their inner healing and growth. On the other hand, the full moon presents an opportunity to gather in community, celebrate achievements, and focus on healing. It is a time to amplify the healing journey and deepen the connection to one's intuition and body's wisdom. By honoring the full moon, one can enhance self-care practices and realign with their personal rhythm. In our fast-paced, rational society, embracing lunar cycles offers a chance to pause, re-center, and tap into our emotional and intuitive selves. Through participating in moon ceremonies and aligning with planetary rhythms, individuals can create a harmonious balance between their rational minds and emotional well-being, fostering personal growth and self-connection throughout the lunar cycle.

What specific practices are recommended during the new moon phase for setting intentions?

During the new moon phase, it is recommended to engage in specific practices to set intentions for the upcoming lunar cycle. The new moon, representing the start of a new lunar cycle, symbolizes darkness and introspection. This phase is ideal for planting seeds of intention for the future. To establish intentions during the new moon, begin by setting goals for areas in your life you wish to progress towards. Consider one meaningful objective. Subsequently, express gratitude for being in alignment with this desired outcome by crafting a positive affirmation. Embrace a sense of excitement and positivity envisioning the realization of your intention. Manifest a strong emotional connection to your goal during this visualization process. Additionally, at the outset, you may choose to light a candle and conduct a cleansing ritual using palo santo or white sage to purify the energy around you. Lastly, it is suggested to connect with the new moon's potent energy by subscribing to monthly newsletters that offer new moon energy transmissions. These practices can help enhance your intention-setting process during the new moon phase.

How can individuals navigate the new and full moon phases for emotional well-being?

Navigating the new and full moon phases for emotional well-being involves understanding the unique energies present during these lunar cycles and utilizing certain practices to connect with oneself and the world around. During the new moon phase, which symbolizes beginnings and introspection, individuals can harness the dark phase of the moon to reflect internally and set intentions for the future. By setting clear goals and affirmations, one can align their intentions with the energy of the new moon. Lighting a candle, smudging with cleansing herbs, or receiving energy transmissions can enhance this practice and create a sense of excitement and readiness for new possibilities. On the other hand, the full moon phase is a time of culmination and release. It prompts individuals to reflect on their relationships with others, as well as on the progress made since the new moon. Recognizing the support received from others and expressing gratitude for the growth experienced can deepen the connection to one's own nature and the interconnectedness with the world. By acknowledging the blossoming of intentions set during the new moon and being open to receiving continued support, individuals can enhance their emotional well-being during the full moon phase. In summary, navigating the new and full moon phases for emotional well-being involves setting intentions and affirmations during the new moon while reflecting on growth and fostering gratitude during the full moon. These practices can help individuals align with the energies of the lunar cycles and find balance and harmony within themselves and their relationships.

Is there a biological connection between women and the moon, particularly regarding the menstrual cycles?

The question of whether there is a biological connection between women and the moon, specifically in relation to menstrual cycles, has intrigued many throughout history. While definitive scientific proof may be elusive, there are some intriguing parallels that have been observed. One similarity often noted is the approximate 28-day length of both the lunar cycle and the average menstrual cycle. Some cultures have traditions linking women's menstrual cycles with the phases of the moon, suggesting a deeper connection between the two. For example, in some Native American societies, women were believed to naturally bleed with the new moon. They had designated spaces like the "Moon Lodge" where women could retreat and rest during their monthly cycles, without being burdened by other responsibilities. In modern urban settings, factors like stress and artificial lighting can disrupt the alignment of menstrual cycles with lunar phases. However, there is growing recognition of the importance of rest and self-care during menstruation, acknowledging the physical and emotional changes that women experience during this time. Some experts suggest that syncing with one's "moon time" and allowing for rest can help alleviate stress-related imbalances like PMS, supporting the body's natural rhythms and well-being. Dr. Christina Northrup, for example, advocates for honoring the body's wisdom and making space for self-care during menstruation. While the exact nature of the relationship between women and the moon remains open to interpretation, exploring these connections can offer insights into the ways in which cultural beliefs and individual experiences shape our understanding of the menstrual cycle and its significance in women's lives.

Why is it important to honor the moon and stay in sync with natures rhythms?

Honoring the moon and staying in sync with nature's rhythms is important for numerous reasons. By aligning ourselves with the natural cycles of the earth, we can better understand and connect with our own internal rhythms. This alignment allows us to listen to ourselves more attentively, crucial for creating lives that truly resonate with us. Observing the moon's phases is a time-honored method of timekeeping that can help us mentally and emotionally prepare for what lies ahead. Celebrating the changing seasons in harmony with the moon allows us to rest, set goals, gather with community, heal, and celebrate as part of a larger communal experience. Engaging in moon ceremonies and studying the moon's cycles also provides an opportunity to tap into our intuitive selves and access our inner wisdom. This practice encourages us to delve into our own needs and desires, facilitating personal growth and self-discovery. Embracing the moon's energy aids in nurturing and developing our feminine nature, regardless of gender, as we all possess masculine and feminine qualities. In today's predominantly rational and left-brained society, marking the moon's phases presents an opportunity to pause the incessant chatter of the mind and reawaken our emotional senses, which can often be numbed in bustling urban environments. By synchronizing with the rhythmic patterns of the planet, we can establish our own self-care routines and enhance our overall well-being. In essence, honoring the moon and keeping in harmony with nature's rhythms serve as a means of deepening our connection to ourselves, our bodies, and the world around us.

How does the gravitational pull of the moon relate to your emotions?

The gravitational pull of the moon affects both the tides and potentially our emotional bodies. The moon's gravitational force influences the water on Earth, leading to the rise and fall of tides. When the sun, moon, and Earth align during new and full moons, the gravitational pull intensifies, resulting in higher and lower tides. Since humans are mostly made up of water, it raises the question of whether the moon's gravitational pull could also impact us emotionally. Some traditions connect water with the emotional body, suggesting that the moon's influence may extend to our emotional centers. The alignment of celestial bodies during specific lunar phases may amplify this effect, potentially affecting our emotional states in a similar manner to how it affects the tides.

What is the significance of the moon in various traditions and astrological terms?

The significance of the moon in various traditions and astrological terms is multifaceted. Across many cultures and belief systems, the moon holds a special significance associated with the feminine, intuition, and the deep inner psyche. In astrological terms, the moon is deeply connected with our emotional body, reflecting how we perceive ourselves and navigate our relationships and responses to circumstances. In numerous traditions, including Native beliefs, the moon – often referred to as Grandmother Moon – is regarded as ruling the rhythms of the tides and the waters, which are considered the lifeblood of the Earth. This celestial body serves as a teacher of intuition and introspection, and is intimately tied to the cycles of life. Through this lens, the moon symbolizes not only emotional fulfillment but also a deeper understanding of our inner selves and our connection to the natural world. Its influence extends beyond the mere mechanics of celestial bodies, embodying spiritual and emotional significance that resonates across various cultural and astrological contexts.

How does the moon effect emotions and what can be done to flow with lunar rhythms?

The moon exerts a significant influence on our emotions, affecting our moods and behaviors. To align with the lunar rhythms and flow harmoniously with them, it is beneficial to remain aware of the moon's phases and their impact on our internal state. By paying attention to the changes that occur during the new and full moons, we can embrace a healing process that facilitates personal growth and transformation. Understanding why the moon triggers intense emotions can empower us to navigate these feelings skillfully, fostering a deeper connection with ourselves and the natural world around us. By embracing the ebb and flow of lunar cycles, we can develop practices that enable us to effectively respond to the emotional tides that arise, leading to a more balanced and fulfilling existence.

Summary

Surprisingly the human body maintains a 28-day cycle of hormonal and physiological characteristics. The female menstrual cycle is a notable example. Our behavior, health, and physiology run on the 28-day cycle of some kind. It is not coincidental that we have a particular relationship between various phases of the moon and human biology. Certainly, there is a mystic connection between fertility, birth rate, reproductive factor, sexual behavior, and the lunar cycle.

References

[1] “Can the Moon affect our health and behavior? | Royal Museums Greenwich.” https://www.rmg.co.uk/stories/topics/can-moon-affect-our-health-behaviour (accessed Jul. 29, 2021).

[2] “The Connection Between the Moon, Body, and Mind | Ayurveda at AOLRC.” https://artoflivingretreatcenter.org/blog/ayurveda-and-the-full-moon/ (accessed Jul. 30, 2021).

[3] “How Lunar Phases Can Have an Effect on Your Sleep | Sleep Foundation.” https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/do-moon-phases-affect-sleep (accessed Jul. 29, 2021).

[4] “Lunar phase – Wikipedia.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar\_phase (accessed Jul. 29, 2021).

[5] L. Casiraghi et al., “Moonstruck sleep: Synchronization of human sleep with the moon cycle under field conditions,” Sci. Adv., vol. 7, no. 5, p. eabe0465, Jan. 2021, doi: 10.1126/SCIADV.ABE0465.

[6] U. Chakraborty, “Effects of different phases of the lunar month on humans,” Biol. Rhythm Res., vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 383–396, May 2014, doi: 10.1080/09291016.2013.830508.

[7] “Full Moon Effects: What Research Has Discovered.” https://www.healthline.com/health/full-moon-effects#full-moon-and-mental-health (accessed Jul. 30, 2021).

[8] V. S. Parmar, E. Talikowska-Szymczak, E. Downs, P. Szymczak, E. Meiklejohn, and D. Groll, “Effects of Full-Moon Definition on Psychiatric Emergency Department Presentations,” ISRN Emerg. Med., vol. 2014, pp. 1–6, Jan. 2014, doi: 10.1155/2014/398791.

[9] “The lunar cycle: effects on human and animal behavior and physiology | Post.” https://phmd.pl/resources/html/article/details?id=6632&language=en (accessed Jul. 30, 2021).

About the author Brian Rose: 

As a Biohacker, I completely submerged myself in neural enhancement, receiving training in a Neuro Performance Program with Vitanya Brain Performance, and completing Vipassana, a 10-day Silent Meditation Retreat. These experiences trained my brain to change its frequency from Alpha to Beta and taught me how to move energy within my body to benefit my mind.